This question is on everyone’s lips when they first want to lose weight “Should I start with cardio or weight training?” Hearing the words that cardio will burn more calories than weight training in a shorter amount of time, is all that most people need to jump on the treadmill and disregard the weights rack altogether. Although this is true, weight training has added benefits for your body that you simply can’t achieve with doing cardio alone.
Generally speaking, our bodies need to burn more calories (energy output) than we eat (energy input) in order to lose weight. Cardio is just one form of exercise that can help contribute to this “energy output”. There are many different types of cardio - the most popular being walking, jogging and sprinting. Depending on what your fitness goals are, there are certain types of cardio that are better suited than others. For example, if you want to focus on fat and weight loss, then LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) is perfect. This is because walking burns the most fat per calorie compared to jogging and sprinting. Without going into too much detail, fat requires oxygen in order to be metabolised (broken down) for energy. The lower the intensity, the more oxygen is available to be used by the body to break down fat. When you are jogging or sprinting, less oxygen is available meaning that your body will use other energy sources, such as carbohydrates, for energy. Regardless of the intensity, cardio is great for increasing fitness levels and building stamina.
Resistance (Weight) Training
Soooo many women get scared of lifting weights because they are afraid it will make them appear ‘bulky’. This is not true, and is honestly one fitness myth which I wish would go away! Although doing steady state cardio (walking or running at the same pace) may burn more calories per minute, resistance training will continue to burn calories even AFTER you have completed your workout! Yep that’s right, if you lie on your couch after and watch a movie - your body is still working and burning off calories. This is known as EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption). Another great thing about resistance training is that you lose mainly fat, compared to cardio where you can lose a variety of different body masses. Although losing muscle mass will mean your weight on the scale is lower, it probably won’t give you the body you are after. This is because ‘tone’ comes from well shaped muscles, and resistance training protects, shapes and maintains those muscles.
As you can see, cardio and resistance training have their advantages, but my answer to what is best for weight loss? BOTH! If you have a lot of weight to lose, cardio is a great stepping stone for increasing your fitness levels and burning calories quickly. However in order to have that toned, sculpted body that most women want, you will need to add in some resistance workouts.
I want to take it a step further and talk about HIIT. This stands for High Intensity Interval Training and this is a GREAT way to boost your body’s fat burning ability. Not everyone has time to go for an hour walk multiple times a week, which is optimal for weight loss. Performing a 15 minute HIIT session can actually burn more fat than going for an hour walk. How? HIIT produces an ‘after-burn’ effect, similar to what your body experiences after resistance training PLUS you save yourself some time! An example of a HIIT workout is sprinting as fast as you can for 30 seconds, followed by a 30 second rest, and repeating for 10-15 minutes. This type of training gets your heart rate up fast and it burns more fat in less time than any other workout.
In order to lose weight successfully, I recommended implementing a training program (such as my Bikini Body Guides) that use both cardio (HIIT & LISS) as well as resistance training. This is the best way to achieve weight loss and strengthen your muscles, which together, create definition and tone. It also gives you variety and means you won’t get bored with your exercise regime, which is one of the main reasons most people quit exercising.