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By Marjorie Cliff Picard

Using cardio and strength training to help weight loss

There has been some debate about which type of exercise, cardio or strength training, is more effective in burning calories, losing pounds and producing a fit physique. The best bet is to have them complement each other.

The role of cardio in weight loss

  • People who engage in aerobic exercise regularly burn more calories than those who do just strength training. They lose pounds more quickly, according to a Duke University study.
  • In a Penn State study, however, dieters lost the same amount of weight (21 pounds) no matter which type of exercise they did, but the cardio group lost six pounds of muscle tissue while the weight lifters lost just fat tissue.
  • Cardio is great for fitness and heart and lung health. To be effective, the heart rate must rise to get more oxygen flowing through the blood vessels. Getting sweaty is another sign that the exertion is effective. This is crucial to your health whether you are trying to lose weight or not.
  • Beginning exercisers benefit from cardio because it builds tendons and ligaments in the joints, which prepares them for more strenuous activity.
  • The more aerobic exercise is done, the better it is for energy, stress reduction and improved sleep. This creates the ability and desire for more exercise and more weight loss.

The role of strength training

  • For every three pounds of muscle someone adds through strength training, he or she will burn an additional 120 calories per day without lifting a finger. When the strength training session is over, the body continues to burn calories.
  • Muscle fiber burns far more calories than fat tissue.

According to trainer Victoria Jones on WebMD, “I would always prioritize weight training first and foremost, leaving cardio for recovery days when my muscles need to be stretched and I want an energy boost. In my experience, weight training is more effective for fat loss than cardio. You are likely to see the best results if you increase your metabolic rate. This is what strength training does.”

“The more muscle you have, the more fuel you are constantly burning,” fitness author Alwyn Cosgrove said on Livestrong. “This is the advantage strength training offers if your goal is to lean out. A treadmill or elliptical trainer is often seen as the quick fix to shed body fat, and they are certainly useful if your goal is to improve cardiovascular health, endurance or simply to burn some extra calories, but strength training is a powerful ally.”

Females and weight training

Some women are afraid that strength training may lead to physiques that are too muscular. This is not the case. Men have 10 times the testosterone that women have, and this hormone is what is needed to build up bulky muscles. But for a woman to appear toned and fit, strength training is crucial. By building up the muscles under the fat layer, the silhouette appears more toned.

The right combination

A person can actually do both at the same time. This training is called metabolic conditioning. The exercises are very intense and not for beginners. The body is trained to do very high-intensity cardio for a short time before a rest period. It also can involve equipment such as kettle balls and medicine balls, and performing rope slams, for example.

For the average exerciser looking to shape up, both can achieve positive effects. Both burn calories and both increase fitness. Cardio keeps your heart, lungs, bones and stress levels in good shape, as well. Strength training and running burns more calories and makes men look more muscular and women more svelte.

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