Weight Training Vs. Steady State Cardio For Fat Loss
If someone asked you “what burns more calories, lifting weights of cardio”, you would probably, without hesitation, tell them that cardio burns more calories. Don’t worry, because this is the answer that most people would give as well.
However, if you look a little closer, this might not be as clear cut as you think. Both of these training methods burn calories and reduce body fat, but they use different methods and have different effects on your body.
During The Workout
When you are actually performing the workout (lifting weight or steady state cardio), how much fat are you really burning? In this case, steady state cardio may have weight training beat. You will burn quite a few more calories during a cardio session than a typical weight lifting session (1 body part per day). What you are NOT told is how long steady state cardio sessions can also break down muscle tissue which reduces your calorie burning ability. * A game changer here would be a FULL BODY weight training session like we have discussed in previous blogs.
We determined that cardio burns more fat when you’re doing the workout. After the workout is over; now that’s a different story. Once you have stepped off the treadmill, the calorie burning has stopped by the time you get home.
After a session of high-repetition weight training, you will experience a phenomenon known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This is your body’s way of using calories to repair damaged muscle tissue. EPOC can provide your body with 38 more hours of fat burning.
Keeping It Off
Ever notice that those with the most muscle, lose fat the fastest when they choose and are in general leaner than those with less muscle? Once you get the weight off, which training method is better at keeping it off? Here, weight lifting may have its biggest advantage. Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is how many calories that your body needs to burn just to exist.
Muscle requires 3 times the amount of calories than fat. This means all that lean muscle you built from weight training will continue to burn fat every day; even when you don’t exercise.
Your body composition can be described as “what you’re made of”. It takes into account your fat mass (your total amount of body fat) as well as fat-free mass (FFM) (everything in your body that’s not fat).
Lifting weights and performing steady state cardio will affect your bodyweight and your body composition. Since strength training not only burns fat, but builds muscle, it can give you the appearance that it’s not helping you lose fat if you only use a scale to measure progress.
Likewise, steady state cardio will also give you a skewed reading on the scale. As I mentioned previously, cardio only burns fat and builds little (if any) muscle. This can make the scale give you a more pleasing number, but you may not have a healthy body composition.
Measuring your body composition is a much better idea than only using a scale as a guide for fat loss. Consider that muscle tissue is much denser that fat. This means that you could lose 5 pounds of fat mass and gain 7 pounds of muscle (FFM) and be 2 pounds heavier on the scale.
Now, you may think that you are gaining fat mass, when in reality, you’re gaining FFM and making positive changes in your body composition. Having a health professional determine your body composition will help keep you on the right track.
Weight training and steady state cardio will both help you burn calories and lose fat. Since lifting weights burns more calories in the long run and cardio burns more calories while exercising, using weight training as the foundation of your plan and cardio as an additional tool may have the biggest effect on fat loss.
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