Roger Bannister broke the mythical 4-minute mile barrier in 1954. (Source: Guardian UK)
Q: Should I do cardio or weight training to lose weight? Vicki P.
A: For years we have been told that the calories we burn while doing cardio or weight training are equal, but as fitness coaches we have seen faster fat loss with people that are doing weight training.
Why are we seeing fat loss faster with weight training if the number of calories being burned are the same for cardio and weight training?
First off the number of calories you burn doing weight training activities is generally estimated versus with cardio training where it is standardized. We are just starting to see research techniques being created for true measurements of caloric burn in weight training. These new studies are projecting that weight training may burn more calories than was once estimated.
Outside of the possible increase in numbers of calories burned with weight training there are a number of other benefits that include increases in lean muscle mass. Every pound of muscle on your body burns 50 calories a day. The more lean muscle mass you have on your body the more calories you burn every day. Raising the number of calories you burn by gaining lean muscle mass should create a calorie deficiency if you are eating correctly. Now add the calories you are burning while you workout and the additional calories you burn for up to 36 Hours after the workout. Now that is some serious movement towards decreasing body fat.
Steady state (long bouts of cardio at the same intensity) cardio has the ability to burn calories, but doesn’t do a good job of promoting maintenance or an increase in lean muscle mass. If you lose lean muscle mass metabolism goes down. Your body also quickly becomes more efficient at doing long cardio workouts and burns less calories unless you increase the intensity or time. Weight training and interval cardio are much more effective and productive than spending an hour and half on a cardio machine or jogging around the neighborhood. And yes you may lose weight doing long bouts of cardio but you will also be decreasing your lean muscle mass in the process.
Now if you were going to being doing interval cardio training that would be a whole different story because you would be getting the benefit of cardio with lean muscle maintenance or growth.