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Cardio vs. Resistance for Weight Loss

The age old fitness question: which is better for weight loss, cardio or resistance training? Like many answers in the fitness world, it depends. While both burn calories, they burn calories differently. Consider how each system works:


Each pound of fat in your body is roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories. So, if you’re trying to lose a pound of fat, say in a week, you would have to burn 3,500 calories, or about 500 calories per day.

Cardio burns those calories through sustained work. Running or jogging for thirty minutes can burn 300+ calories. Your body draws on its reserves (your stored fat) and converts it to fuel that helps you during the run. Everyone can see that this is great because the work done translates to an immediate caloric deficit. If you are going for that golden 500 calorie a day burn, you can run for an hour and there you go!

Resistance Training

During an hour-long session of strength training, you might burn somewhere between 150 and 300 calories. It’s easy to say that cardio gives you more burn for your buck, but resistance training works differently. It’s better than cardio for building muscle, and muscle burns fat. Building muscle can boost
your resting metabolic rate (RMR), or, how many calories you burn at rest. According to a study (1), in a 24-week training block, participants had their RMR boosted by up to 9%. For someone who burns 2,000 calories a day just with natural processes like breathing, heart rate, and digestion, this is an extra 200 calories burned while at rest!

There are advantages to both types of workouts. Cardio is better during the workout at burning calories, but resistance training builds muscle, which translates to a higher resting metabolic rate. I highly recommend a combination of both for sustained weight loss. Plus, doing both as you slim down will translate to building a more toned, athletic body.

About Tyler Lamoreaux

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