Q&A Tuesday:
What is Better for Fat Loss –
Cardio or Weight Training?

Welcome back to our “Q&A Tuesday” series, where each week we take a question that we get asked all the time and share our expertise.  In case you missed it, last week we covered, “What Should I Eat for My Body Type” In case you missed it, you can catch it HERE.

This week we are switching gears to focus on a common exercise question that we get asked all the time, “What is better for fat loss – cardio or weight training?”  Ooohhhh, this a good one and one we’re excited to jump into today.

Jump on the internet to explore this topic and you’ll find a ton of articles, with a lot of conflicting information.  If you’ve been here before, after reading a few articles, I’m sure your head was spinning in multiple different directions – cardio only, weights only, fasted-cardio, high intensity cardio, nutrition, etc.  Today we are going to clear up all the confusion for you and break it down nice and simple.

what is better for fat loss cardio or weight training

Going out on a general limb here, when people think of fat loss, they are quick to jump to cardio.  Specifically – more cardio, more of the time. Sounds fun, right? 😉 While cardio is part of the equation, it certainly isn’t the whole equation.

As the human body ages, it tends to slow down a bit.  People’s lives become busier and as a result, they sit more and move less.  Sound familiar?  However, another overlooked factor to this equation is muscle mass.  Without intervention (weight training), the body loses muscle mass as it ages. In fact, once you hit your 30s, it’s common to see a 3-5% dip in muscle mass every 10 years.  The more active you are, the less you will lose (although some loss is inevitable) and the less active you are, the more muscle you will lose.

Why is this important?  Gosh, for so many reasons.  However, related to body fat, muscle uses a ton of energy to exist and function in the human body.  The more muscle your body has, the more energy it uses on a daily basis.  The more energy your body burns, the more fat you’ll burn, which is super important if you’re trying to lose body fat.  Pretty cool, right?

what is better for fat loss cardio or weights
So is weight training more important than cardio for fat loss?  Not so fast. Cardio is significant to the human body for a plethora of reasons – bone density, cardiovascular health, disease prevention and management, weight management and of course, fat loss.

To give you the most bang for your buck and to optimize fat loss for your body, a combination of cardio and weight training is important.  Dependent on your current exercise habits and interests, this combination can look a little different for everyone.

You can separate out your resistance training and cardio days or you could combine them into one session. However, if you’re looking to for the ultimate fat burn, metabolic resistance training (MRT) can be highly efficient.

Essentially, MRT is combining a bunch of large weight training movements (think – squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench press and row, kettlebell work, etc.) with short rest periods.  Ultimately, you’re moving more weight and volume in a shorter amount of time.

what is better for fat loss cardio or weight lifting

Now this doesn’t mean that every workout has to focus on MRT.  If you’re new to this style of working out, you can start to sprinkle a little into your current workouts.  Pick 3 big movements and shuffle through them 3-4 times with little rest. Then carry on with the rest of your workout.  

Since MRT is more intense and requires more energy, you can expect to be a little more tired and depleted from it. Thus, it’s not necessary to do an entire 60 min workout solely focusing on MRT. That would be super tough. 20-25 mins can oftentimes feel like plenty of time.

Conclusion: Going back to “What is better for fat loss – cardio or weight training?”, our answer is BOTH.  If you’re doing all cardio and frustrated with your fat loss efforts, it’s time to pick up some weights.  On the flip side, if you’re doing all weights, it’s time to incorporate some cardio. For the most bang for your buck, try adding a little MRT into your workouts.

Hopefully by now, we’ve been able to clear up some confusion surrounding if cardio or weight training is better for fat loss.  If you’ve come this far and are thinking, “what about nutrition?, what about the scale?, what about bulking up?”, stay tuned as we will cover all these topics and MORE over the next coming months.
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Do you have more questions about cardio and weight training? If so, drop us a line and let us know! And make sure to tune in next week as we will be answering our next question…

Written by Sophie DeHenzel
What is Better for Fat Loss – Cardio or Weight Training?

Photos courtesy of (top to bottom): Bigstock (g_peshkova), Bigstock (JacobLund), Bigstock (Vertolet)

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Hi, I’m Sophie. I’m Co-Owner of DeHenzel Training Systems, Precision Nutrition Level 1 ProCoach, Certified Personal Trainer and Pre/Post Natal Specialist. I’m also a wife, mom, tennis beginner and ice cream lover.

Most importantly, I love helping people just like you gain control of their health for good. If you’re tired, frustrated and still struggling to rein in your diet and get moving, check out our nutrition and personal training services and take the first step today.

About DeHenzel Training Systems: DeHenzel Training Systems offers In Home Personal Training services throughout Northern Virginia and Washington DC.  Aside from in home, personal training is also available at the office gym or outdoors at a local park. We also offer Nutrition Coaching and Online Personal Training services worldwide.

Within Northern Virginia, we service Arlington, Loudoun, Fairfax and Prince William Counties including: Alexandria, Annandale, Arlington, Ashburn, Burke, Centreville, Chantilly, Fairfax, Falls Church, Gainesville, Great Falls, Haymarket, Herndon, Lansdowne, Leesburg, Lorton, McLean, Oakton, Reston, Springfield, Sterling, Tyson’s Corner, Vienna and Woodbridge. Don’t see your city listed? Contact us today to find out if we service your area!

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