It is one of the biggest debates and battles of the fitness world. One that might never end because people have such different opinions, and one that may never have a winner in the end. Yup, we’re talking about the infamous argument of “weightlifting vs cardio”. If you’ve been anywhere near the fitness community, you’ve heard this debate. What is the science behind it though? And can an intense weightlifting regimen make up for the lack of heart pounding treadmill sessions? Glad you asked, let’s figure it out once and for all!
Everything you do with your fitness is going to be dependent on one thing; Your Goals! (Yes, I really just capitalized that. They are that important.) Do not automatically assume however, that wanting to lose fat means you need to hop on the treadmill, and wanting to gain muscle means you should lift weights. This very common misconception is the very one that leaves a lot of people not looking how they want to look, and holds a good amount of people back from their fitness goals.
Many people underestimate the power of weightlifting when it comes to fat loss. Don’t be so quick to discredit it though. Why? Many reasons, but one of the most important being because weightlifting workouts actually burn MORE calories after the workout is finished. No, seriously…your body burns calories well after a workout is done. Study after study has shown that a relatively intense weightlifting session can boost metabolism for up to 36 hours after you are finished, and metabolism controls how many calories you are burning when sitting still! It is only at about 10 more calories per hour than average, but when you add this up over that 36 hour period, and over a course of a whole month or so, you can see how this little difference isn’t really a little difference at all.
How do cardio sessions compare? You can burn anywhere from 20-80 calories post workout from an intense cardio session compared to 10 an hour for 36 hours with weightlifting. To burn that amount of calories post workout from a cardio session is possible, but it would take a very, very long session. People who can do such long duration’s of cardio, fat loss isn’t exactly a goal they are trying to achieve in the first place (these are long distance cyclists, marathon runners, etc.)
Another big reason? Weightlifting equals lean muscle, lean muscle equals a better LBM (lean body mass). Lean body mass scientifically is the overall mass of muscle, bones, and organs. It has a direct impact on your metabolism! In other words, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories your body burns while doing nothing!
So, where does cardio win the battle? Cardio wins in the amount of calories burned during the workout! A good cardio session can burn anywhere from 200 – 800 calories! That’s pretty extreme. However, remember that it takes about 3500 calories to burn a single lb of body fat, so you have to stay very consistent with these intense sessions. This is hard for some people.
Also, nothing compares to cardio when it comes to cardiovascular health itself. The heart is obviously a very important part of the body and needs its exercise too.
So, what does all this mean?
Simplified, it all means that weightlifting is going to burn more calories overtime, contribute to higher metabolism, and shape your body more. Cardio, as long as you can stay consistent, is a better immediate burner, but burns muscle as well. Our advice? Find out what works best for your body, because everyone can be different. For simple cardiovascular health though, mild 20-30 minute cardio sessions would prove beneficial once or twice a week without putting your muscle at too much risk. So why are you still reading? Go out and do it!
Article by fitness expert Zack Simpson