Many people who have decided to losing weight find themselves stuck with a tricky question: should they do cardio or strength training?
These are the two most popular types of workouts, but it can be difficult to know which is the best option for weight loss.
This article tells you everything you need to know about cardio and strength training for weight loss .
Cardio burns more calories per session
Many scientists have studied the number of calories people burn during various activities.
Based on this research, you can use your body weight to estimate how many calories you'll burn during different types of exercise, including cardio and strength training.
For most activities, the more you weigh, the more calories you will burn .
If you weigh 73 kg, you will burn about 250 calories per 30 minutes of jogging at a moderate pace .
If you were to run at a faster pace of 6 miles per hour, you would burn about 365 calories in 30 minutes .
On the other hand, if you strength train for the same amount of time, you might only burn about 130-220 calories.
In general, you'll burn more calories per cardio session than strength training for roughly the same effort.
Strength training helps you burn more calories every day
Although strength training generally doesn't burn as many calories as cardio training, it does have other very important benefits .
For example, weight training is more effective than cardio at building muscle, and muscle burns more calories at rest than some other tissues, including fat .
For this reason, it is commonly said that building muscle is the key to increase your resting metabolism , which is the number of calories you burn at rest.
One study measured participants' resting metabolisms over 24 weeks of strength training.
In men, weight training resulted in a 9% increase in resting metabolism. The effects in women were smaller, with an increase of almost 4% .
Although this may seem optimal, it is important to think about the number of calories this represents.
For men, resting metabolism increased by about 140 calories per day. In women, it was only about 50 calories a day.
So, weight training and building a little muscle won't skyrocket your metabolism, but it may increase it slightly.
However, strength training also has other important calorie-burning benefits.
Specifically, research has shown that you burn more calories in the hours following a weight training session , compared to a cardio workout .
In fact, there are reports that resting metabolism remains elevated for up to 38 hours after weight training, whereas no such increase has been reported with cardio .
This means that the calorie-burning benefits of strength training are not limited to exercise. You will burn calories for hours or days after your session.
For most types of exercise, a more intense workout will increase the number of calories you burn afterward .
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) provides similar benefits to cardio in a shorter amount of time
Although cardio and strength training are two of the most popular workouts, there are other options.
One of them is high-intensity interval training (HIIT ) , which involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise alternated with low-intensity recovery periods.
Typically, a HIIT workout lasts around 10-30 minutes.
You can use HIIT with a variety of different exercises, including sprinting, cycling, skipping, or other bodyweight exercises.
HIIT can burn more calories
Some research has directly compared the effects of cardio, strength training, and HIIT.
One study compared the calories burned during 30 minutes of HIIT, strength training, running and cycling.
Researchers have found that HIIT burns 25-30% more calories than other forms of exercise .
However, that doesn't necessarily mean that other types of exercise aren't good for weight loss.
HIIT and traditional cardio can have similar effects on weight loss
Research in over 400 overweight and obese adults found that HIIT and traditional cardio reduced body fat and waist circumference by similar amounts .
Additionally, other research has shown that HIIT-style workouts can burn about the same number of calories as traditional cardio and in shorter periods of time, although this depends on the intensity of the exercise.
Some research estimates that you can burn about 300 calories in 30 minutes of cardio or HIIT if you weigh around 150 pounds .
One of the potential benefits of HIIT is that you can spend less time exercising because rest periods are in between periods of intense activity.
Using multiple types of exercises may be preferable
ACSM is one of the largest and most respected organizations that gives exercise recommendations.
This organization has published evidence-based recommendations for weight loss .
How much should you exercise per week?
Overall, the ACSM states that less than 150 minutes per week of moderate or vigorous physical activity like cardio is probably not enough for weight loss .
However, he says that more than 150 minutes per week of this type of physical activity is enough to help produce weight loss in most people.
Additionally, research shows that people tend to lose more weight when they engage in higher levels of physical activity .
What types of exercise should you do to lose weight?
It is important to remember that even if your weight does not change, your body composition may improve.
For example, weight training can lead to an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in fat.
If your muscle and fat change by the same amount, the scale may stay the same, even if you're healthier.
A large study of 119 overweight or obese adults helps put everything into perspective when it comes to exercise and weight loss. Participants were divided into three exercise groups: "cardio", "strength training" and "cardio plus strength training" .
After eight months, the "cardio" and "cardio plus strength" groups lost the most weight and fat.
Meanwhile, the "strength training" and "cardio plus strength training" groups gained the most muscle.
Overall, the "cardio plus strength" group had the best changes in body composition. The group members lost weight and fat, while gaining muscle.
This means that a program that combines cardio and strength training may be best for improve your body composition .
Both nutrition and exercise are essential for long-term success
Most people know that exercise and an Healthy eating are essential for optimal health.
All major health organizations recommend changing both your diet and your exercise routine to promote weight loss .
Commitment to the best exercise program is not enough, because you must always pay attention to your diet if you want to optimize your progress.
Research has shown that the ideal program for long-term weight loss includes a moderate reduction in calorie intake and a good exercise program .
While many people know that healthy eating is essential for weight loss , some go overboard and say diet is the only thing that matters.
However, it is important to realize that exercise also helps.
A scientific review of over 400 people looked at the weight loss effects of diet and exercise and compared them to the effects of dietary changes alone.
Researchers found that the combination of dietary changes and exercise resulted in 20% greater weight loss than dietary changes alone after 10 weeks to a year .
Additionally, programs that included diet and exercise were also more effective than diet alone for maintain weight loss after another year.
Cardio and strength training can help you become healthier and fitter.
A cardio workout burns more calories than a weight workout .
However, your metabolism can stay elevated longer after weights than cardio, and weightlifting is better for building muscle.
Thus, the ideal exercise program to improve body composition and health includes cardio and muscle building . Better to do both.