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Lean Up: Cardio vs Weights!

When it comes to weight loss, which is best, Low Intensity Steady State Cardio (LISS) or Resistance training (weight lifting)?

When people think weight loss they usually think long and slow paced distance training, which keeps the heart rate up for a longer period of time and therefore burns calories. They also usually think muscle growth means lifting heavy weights. It is not that simple, lifting weights WILL help you lose body fat. Read on to find out why.........

How do we burn fat?

For the human body to burn fat it is very simple, it must be running on a calorific deficit. This means that it must burn more calories than it takes in on a regular basis.

So, how does resistance training help with this?

Weight training increases short term calorie burn

After a moderate to hard weight training session your metabolism will experience a boost lasting up to 38 hours!! This means that the number of calories burned will be increased for that period of time. Imagine yourself watching TV for an hour after going for a 60 minute run, you may burn around 60 calories*, if you watch TV for an hour after 60 minutes of weight training you would burn closer to 70 calories*, times this by 38 and your body will have burned 380 more calories than if you had gone for a run.

Weight training increases long term calorie burn

When you train your muscles using weights over a longer period of time they will become leaner and more toned. Leaner and more toned muscles require more energy to perform tasks than un-worked muscles. To get more energy, the muscles require a greater calorie burn which in turn increases the body’s metabolism. This means that the body will burn more calories to perform every task it is put through. Even just keeping the body alive will burn more calories. This will mean that more fat is burned and help you on your way to a leaner you. To sum up, the more muscle you have on your body, the more calories your body will burn day to day which (as long as your eating habits are reasonable) means a leaner you.

Your body shape after transformation

If you are looking to get leaner then you are looking to lose body fat. When you lose body fat you strip the layers of fat that cover your muscles. What do your muscles look like underneath? If you just do cardio (jogging, cycling rowing etc) for your weight loss, the chances are they don’t look as good as they could. When you just do cardio training, your body will burn muscle for energy in almost equal amounts to body fat. This means that cardio exercise will actually reduce your muscle mass. As we learned earlier this will reduce the amount of calories you burn a day but will also make you look less toned when you do lose the body fat you want to.

The effects of weight training on muscles

Men – Men have higher levels of testosterone than women so will build muscles easier and more quickly than women.

Women – Lifting weights will not create the same results in women as men. Women have lower levels of testosterone than men so will find it much much harder to build muscle. Women can tone their muscles and create learner muscles but they will not look like the incredible hulk!

Cardio 100% has a place

I know what you are thinking, “how many calories will I burn in my weights session compared to a cardio session?” You will burn more calories doing 60 minutes of LISS than you will doing the same amount of time weight training.

Cardio and health

Doing LISS has major benefits for the cardiovascular system. Your lungs will get bigger and more powerful, your heart will get stronger and your body will become better at using oxygen. This will reduce your risk of lung problems, Chronic Heart Disease and Cardiac Arrest. Weight training has health benefits too such as improving joint health and oxygen uptake in the muscles.

In conclusion

If you are looking to get leaner (lose body fat) then please mix LISS and weight training. The two can work in unison and will get you the best results possible and fitness is all about getting the best results possible. Don’t be scared of the weights. Ask your trainer or staff at your gym to show you how to lift your way to a leaner you.

Try adding this resistance programme to your weight loss routine:

  • Deadlift 4 sets of 12 reps

  • Back squat 4 sets of 12 reps

  • Bench press 4 sets of 12 reps

  • Bent over barbell row 4 sets of 12 reps

All the best,


*these are rough estimates and are not calculated scientifically. Everybody is different. Get in contact today for information on calorie counting.

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