Oh yes, the age old question. Cardio or weight training? Which will help me lose weight faster, running on the treadmill for hours or getting on the smith machine and doing a million squats?
You know cardio is supposed to help you drop your weight, but isn’t strength training supposed to help you build lean muscle? (Think bubble butt).
The answer is, there is no simple answer unfortunately! You have to find what works best for you.
Cardio is a surefire way to lose weight.
When you want to see the number on the dreaded scale go down, cardio is the way to do it.
It all has to do with achieving a calorie deficit which is necessary for weight loss. Cardio helps out in that area since it can burn more calories than strength training (you can thank a high heart rate, heavy breathing, and sweat for that).
As for the type of cardio, I’ve found that short intense sessions burn calories and fat more efficiently. Steady-state cardio on the other hand (walking or running a few miles at an easy pace) also burns fat, but fewer calories than a HIIT session.
Strength training builds lean muscle which will help you slim down in a totally different way.
There are two common ways to track your weight loss…what your scale says and how your clothes fit. Strength training helps improve the latter. It helps build muscle which takes up less space in the body than fat. This means there will be fewer inches on your body.
You will still burn some calories while you’re lifting, and sometimes if you’re lifting heavy it can feel like cardio, but a big payoff is the calorie burn that happens afterwards, called the after-burn.
With the muscles being constantly broken down and recreated, the body needs and uses energy to do this, meaning you’ll still be burning calories after you’ve finished your session.
In my experience the best types of strength training exercises incorporate multiple muscles, these are called compound exercises. This includes exercises like squats and dumbbell rows, instead of single joint ones like biceps curls or shoulder raises. The compound moves use a bigger range of muscles which leads to more calories burned after exercise.
Should I do both then?
Absolutely yes 🙂 HIIT workouts and strength training work perfectly hand-in-hand. Next time you train, why not try a quick steady walking warm-up on the treadmill for 10 minutes, followed by resistance or strength-training, which creates an intense workout that will burn more calories while still helping you build muscle. Then finish with a quick 10-15 minute HIIT workout! Trust me when I say, you’ll burn some serious calories and feel awesome afterwards.
If you’re struggling for time though, just getting to the gym, smashing a quick HIIT session for 15-20 minutes and doing 10 minutes of compound lifts such as barbell squats, deadlifts or overhead lifts can still burn a good amount of calories and still leave you feeling tired and sweaty!
Whichever way you want to lose weight, it’s is all about simply moving more, no matter what form you of exercise choose. So just get up, wack on your most comfortable gym kit and get out!