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The Fitties Blog

Why Weight Training is Better Than Cardio for Losing Weight

April 15, 2023 | Fitness and Training

So you want to get into shape in the fastest way possible. But do you know whether you should lift weights for hours in the weightroom or run a few miles on the treadmill? When it comes to losing body fat, are bench presses and squats better than elliptical machines and stationary bikes? You probably already have a favorite exercise in mind, but is it the best routine for your particular weight loss goals? If you’re not sure, don’t worry. I’ll help answer similar questions you may have about weight training vs. cardio when it comes to the battle for your waistline.

Let’s start with a quick overview of popular aerobic and anaerobic exercises.


Just about any low intensity activity that elevates your heart rate for an extended period of time would fall within the definition of a “cardio” exercise. Many of the low intensity workouts that you can perform either at home or outside, such as running, jogging and bike riding, with little or no additional equipment, could be considered cardio. Since cardio workouts are relatively low impact, you should be able to perform them for 20 minutes or longer without needing to rest.

If burning calories is your goal, cardio is one of the most basic things you can do accelerate your body’s ability to use calories for energy. You’ll being to lose weight when the number of calories that you burn in a day exceeds the number of calories you consume. You only need your legs and a nice pair of shoes to perform cardio. You don’t need special weights or extensive knowledge of exercises. Cardio is pretty natural for most, meaning that it’s nearly impossible to mess up.

On the downside, cardio can be pretty boring. Running outside can be a joyous experience for many, but spending hours on the treadmill can be pretty mundane. Also, cardio isn’t the most efficient type of exercise for losing weight and getting in shape. Cardio improves your heart health because it keeps your heart rate high while exercising. However, cardio does not prepare your heart for handling extreme stress.

So why is cardio an inefficient exercise for burning calories? With cardio, the EPOC (Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption) is negligible. That means you will burn calories when you are running, but nothing much happens after that.

Cardio still has many good things about it. It is suitable for almost everyone. Also, it is low impact. You can perform cardio for hours on end and you will not get exhausted. So if you possess the willpower, you can perform cardio all day long and burn calories.

Weight Training

Lifting weights or performing bodyweight exercises in a cyclical manner would be considered “weight training.”

Numerous studies have shown the benefits of weight training, however, is weight training better than cardio when it comes to fat loss? Before answering that question, I would like to make one thing clear. Nothing is more important than eating right. If you adjust your diet, you will have no difficulty getting in shape. Up to 80 – 90% of the success of your weight loss plan depends on your diet. Every week, you might be spending 10 hours exercising, but you still have 168 hours to jeopardize things. If losing weight is your ultimate goal, the fastest way to achieve it is to adopt a kick-ass diet. So keep your calorie intake under control, limit the consumption of junk food, and give up soda. Instead, start eating fruits, veggies, and lean meats.

Now that you have started eating right, losing weight should be easier for you, but you should still do some exercise to burn those excess calories. Here is a comparative analysis of the most popular workouts.

High intensity weight training is way ahead of cardio in its ability to burn calories. That is because high intensity training results in EPOC. When you perform high intensity interval training (HIIT), you will continue to burn calories for several hours after the workout.

Weight training involves exercises that engage the highest number of muscles in the body. These include squats, kettlebell swings, lunges, pull ups, pushups, squat thrusts, burpees, and inverted rows. Do them in a circuit without any break and keep your reps in the 8 to 12 range to give your body a super workout. This will help you build muscle and burn calories for about 38 hours after the workout.

To put it in a nutshell, HIIT burns far more calories than cardio, but metabolic resistance training (another term for weight training) is even better than HIIT. However, HIIT and weight training are quite stressful and because of that, you can’t perform these activities for more than 30-45 minutes at a time. After a workout, you will also need a couple of days to recover. Since cardio does not have such a stressful impact on the body, you will be able to perform cardio for hours on end. You can’t do much weight training or HIIT before exhausting your body so there is a limit to the amount of calories you can burn. So, if time is not an issue and you do not mind spending hours in the gym, you will be able to burn more calories when you perform steady cardio than when you do 30 minutes of weight training or HIIT 3 days a week.


How you should burn calories and lose weight depends upon your fitness levels and the amount of time you can spend in the gym. Keep in mind that your diet is more important than anything else.

Here’s my advice:

Do cardio if you enjoy running on the treadmill and don’t mind spending hours in the gym. Cardio is also ideal for people who are just starting out.

Do circuit weight training if you don’t have much time, but still want to build muscle and burn calories simultaneously. Weight training will help you burn calories even when you are sitting idle.

What I have explained above is the science behind weight loss. It is up to you to find the best combination of these exercises to stay healthy. There is no perfect way to lose weight. If you are happy with your current workout, stick to it. But if you are not happy with it, you should find some advice in this article.

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