The long-running debate around cardio versus strength training has made headlines over the years, confusing gym-goers looking to trim their waistlines. Although they both have many benefits for the body, the suggestion of why one should be used in place of the other, especially when it comes to fat loss, is a conversation that doesn’t really matter. will not turn off completely.
While both forms of exercise have their time and place in a goal-oriented fitness program, to take advantage of this dynamic duo, they must both be used consistently.
So why the debate? Simply put, cardio enthusiasts often have different fitness goals than avid lifters and vice versa. This popular debate is often brought up when people discuss the most effective form of training for fat loss.
That said, let’s go into detail about why these training methods complement each other (and your physique) and when it might be necessary to separate the two.
Cardio and strength training burn fat, just differently
This is where the heart of this debate lies: which training method burns the most fat. Although you’re more likely to burn more calories during a cardio session, your metabolism will likely stay elevated longer after a strength workout; create a steady stream of opinions on why you should choose one exercise method over another.
Jeff Cervero, Registered Dietitian and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with over 26 years of experience, explains it this way: “In general, low-intensity, long-duration aerobic workouts burn more calories than weight training for the actual training. On the other hand, high-intensity anaerobic training, such as weight training, can elevate your metabolism long after due to an “afterburn effect” called EPOC or excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption. .
“EPOC translates to the number of calories expended to recover after an exercise session ends,” Cervero explains. “The impact of EPOC depends more on the intensity of an exercise than on its duration.”
Low-intensity aerobic workouts, such as jogging, don’t elicit much EPOC. “Once the training is over, the caloric expenditure ends; Whereas, when a high-intensity anaerobic workout is over, calorie expenditure continues,” Cervero explains. This process is very useful for burning fat at rest.
That said, if your primary fitness goal is sustained fat loss, Cervero recommends including a combination of strength training and cardio. The combination of the two (done on the same day or not) will help your body burn more calories after strength training and burn more calories during the session on your cardio days.
This perfect pair brings more than fat loss to the table
Better together, cardio and strength training provide both medicinal and physical benefits to the body that go beyond fat loss. “Cardio is great for heart health and helps lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer,” Cervero says.
Strength training, especially when done consistently, helps build muscle mass (and strong bones) which declines with age. “Strength training can slow this process down and help improve your overall quality of life,” he adds. Add mental health benefits such as reduced anxiety and depression to the many benefits offered by cardio training and strength training and you have an impressive combo.
When cardio and strength training don’t mix
The benefits of both training methods are unmatched, but there are times when one can take priority over the other. It depends on individual goals. For example, “A competitive weightlifter should prioritize strength training to build muscle; doing an excessive amount of cardio, especially right before a heavy weight workout, would be detrimental to a competitive weightlifter whose goal is to increase strength and power,” Cervero says.
In this case, Cervero recommends having a separate cardio day dedicated to active recovery and incorporating light movement into a non-weight training day.
Even when you need to separate cardio from strength, you’ll still reap the benefits of both by alternating between them depending on your goals.
The Power of Muscle Mass for Long-Term Fat Loss
The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn. “Muscle is metabolically active, meaning it burns more calories at rest than body fat.” said Cervero. He continues, “Your body burns six calories per hour per pound of muscle and 2 calories per hour per pound of fat – On average, 1 pound of muscle will burn in 24 hours, or 96 more calories than fat tissue.” If your routine is cardio-dominant and you still haven’t reached your fat loss goal, building lean muscle through strength training is essential.
keep in mind
According to Cervero, the most important thing when it comes to exercising is making time for it. “The best type of exercise is highly individualized, and the best time to exercise is always when you can stick with it the most so it becomes a habit for life,” he says. Take-out? Find a training method that meets your personalized goals; one you enjoy to ensure a lifetime commitment to exercise.