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Cardio Vs. Weight Lifting: Which Is Best for Weight Loss?

If you're looking to tone up your body, lose fat, and maintain a healthy body, this article is for you. It focuses on the best way to lose weight effectively and sustain it in the long term.

Nicole Taylor
Cardio Vs. Weight Lifting: Which Is Best for Weight Loss?
Table Of Contents

It's so easy to picture yourself thin. You can finally wear those cute clothes you've been eyeing for years. You don't have to waddle when you walk. You save money on groceries because you're not eating as much. Your health improves, and your doctor is thrilled.

But, sadly, weight loss isn't always that easy. Sometimes it's hard work with little payoff. You might feel deprived and frustrated. The number on the scale might not budge, despite how disciplined you are.

No matter how you slice it, weight loss is hard work. You have to watch what you eat, cut back on calories, and make time for exercise. But more than anything, you have to maintain consistency and dedication.

It's easy to think of weight loss as an all-or-nothing proposition. You either lose weight, or you don't. However, the reality is often much more nuanced than that. In fact, even the smallest amount of weight loss can significantly impact your health.

Just consider what would happen if you lost five percent of your body weight. For someone who weighs 200 pounds, that would be just 10 pounds. But those 10 pounds could make a big difference in your health.

Studies have shown that even a modest amount of weight loss can reduce your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. So if you're looking to improve your health, don't give up if you don't see immediate results. Every little bit counts.

Understanding the Difference Between Fat Loss and Weight Loss

When it comes to weight loss, there is a lot of misinformation out there. One of the biggest myths is that weight loss and fat loss are the same things. In reality, they are two very different things.

Weight loss can be achieved by losing muscle, water, or fat. Fat loss, on the other hand, is specifically about losing body fat. So why does this matter? Well, for one thing, muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue.

This means that someone who has a higher percentage of muscle mass will burn more calories at rest than someone with a higher percentage of fat mass. In addition, muscle is denser than fat, so someone who loses weight but doesn't focus on fat loss may end up looking "flabby."

On the other hand, someone who loses fat but doesn't lose weight may actually end up looking leaner and more toned. So, if you're trying to lose weight, it's important to focus on losing fat, not just weight in general. Otherwise, you may end up sacrificing muscle mass and not getting the results you want.

So, how do you know if you're losing fat or muscle? There are a few different ways to measure it, but one of the simplest is to use a body fat caliper. This device measures the thickness of a fold of skin and subcutaneous fat, which gives you an accurate estimate of your body fat percentage. Alternatively, you could also get a DEXA scan, which uses X-rays to measure your bone density, lean mass, and body fat percentage.

Cardio Vs. Weight Lifting

While we are on the topic of weight loss, there are two primary schools of thought: cardio and weight lifting. The two groups are often seen on opposite sides of the gym, each working up a sweat and feeling smug about their workout routine. The old-age debate on which of the two is the best way to lose weight continues.

Cardio is why so many of us hit the gym daily. We want to slim down, we want to tone up, and we want to get our heart rate going. But what is cardio, really? Simply put, cardio is any type of exercise that gets your heart pumping. That could mean a light jog on the treadmill, an intense game of tennis, or even a vigorous game of tag with your kids. The key is moving your body and getting your heart rate up.

On the other hand, we have weight lifting, which is often associated with bulging muscles and competitive athletes. However, this popular form of exercise has many benefits that extend far beyond its reputation. For example, weight lifting can help to improve bone density, increase stamina and endurance, and boost energy levels.

For those who love a good workout, cardio can provide cardiovascular benefits like increased endurance and better blood flow (which can prevent heart disease) at no cost in personal time. Weight training, on the other hand, is an excellent way of burning calories and shedding pounds in more efficient ways- like increasing muscle mass which burns more calories than fat tissue does.

Cardio has long been touted as the best way to burn calories and lose weight. But is it really superior to weight training when it comes to weight loss? Well, the simple answer would be yes. You'll burn more calories per session of cardio than weight training for about the same amount of effort.

This is because cardio exercises raise your heart rate and move your whole body, while weightlifting focuses on isolated muscle groups. But don't worry - there's no need to ditch the weights altogether. A combination of both cardio and weight training is ideal for overall fitness and health.

Let's have a detailed look at the benefits offered by cardio and weight lifting:

Cardio & Caloric Expenditure

When it comes to burning calories, cardio is king. Whether you're running, swimming, or biking, aerobic exercise is one of the most effective ways to expend energy and torch calories. In fact, research has shown that aerobic activity can be up to four times more effective than resistance training at burning calories.

And the more intensity you put into your cardio workout, the more calories you'll burn. So, if you're looking to make a serious dent in your calorie balance, make sure to include plenty of cardio in your workout routine.

Cardio & Heart Health

Whether you're huffing and puffing your way up a hill or slogging through a long run, it's easy to get discouraged when your lungs are burning, and your legs feel like lead. But even though it may not be pleasant at the moment, cardio is essential for heart health.

Cardio exercise strengthens the heart muscle and improves the circulatory system's efficiency, leading to better blood flow and oxygenation of the blood. In addition, cardio exercise helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which are risk factors for heart disease. In other words, when it comes to heart health, cardio is worth the sweat.

Cardio & Immunity

A strong immune system is a key to staying healthy and feeling your best. And while there are many things you can do to support your immune system, one of the most important is to get regular exercise.

When you exercise, your body temperature rises. This low-grade fever helps to kill off viruses and bacteria that would otherwise make you sick. In addition, exercise increases the production of white blood cells, which are essential for fighting infection.

And if that's not enough, cardio also helps to improve circulation, delivering more oxygen and nutrients to cells throughout your body, including those in your immune system. So, the next time you feel under the weather, lace up your sneakers and hit the gym.

Weights & Muscle Building

Weight lifting is often associated with bulking up and getting bigger muscles. However, it can also help you tone your body and build lean muscle mass. When you lift weights, your muscles are forced to work against the resistance of the weights. This helps to build strength and endurance and improve the appearance of your muscles.

In order to see proper results, you need to focus on compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups and ensure you're eating a healthy diet that provides your body with the nutrients it needs to build muscle. Try adding a whey protein powder to your diet, and you will see better and more efficient results.

Weights & Metabolism

When you think of ways to improve your metabolism, weightlifting might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But it turns out that pumping iron can be one of the best things you can do for your metabolism. Regular weight lifting helps to increase muscle mass, and muscle tissue is more metabolically active than other types of tissue.

This means that it requires more calories to maintain, even at rest. As a result, weight lifting can help to boost your resting metabolic rate, making it easier to lose weight and keep it off in the long run. So, if you're looking for a way to give your metabolism a little extra oomph, don't forget about weightlifting. It just might be the key to success.

Weights & Sleep Quality

There's nothing quite like a good night's sleep. But for those of us who struggle with insomnia, falling asleep can feel like an impossible task. According to recent research, however, weightlifting may be the key to finally getting some shut-eye. In a study of adults with insomnia, participants who completed a moderate-intensity weightlifting program reported significant improvements in sleep quality.

The researchers believe that the increase in deep sleep may be due to the release of hormones like testosterone and growth hormone during exercise. In addition, weightlifting helps reduce stress levels and improve mood, which can contribute to a better night's sleep. Therefore, if you're looking for a way to get better rest, hit the weights and see if it makes a difference.


1. Can I lose weight by lifting weights only?

You can absolutely lose weight by lifting weights only! In fact, weightlifting is one of the most effective exercises for weight loss. When you lift weights, you burn calories and build muscle. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so it helps to boost your metabolism and increase the amount of calories you burn at rest. What's more, lifting weights can help you to retain your muscle mass as you lose weight, which is essential for keeping your metabolism high. So, when it comes to cardio vs. weight training for weight loss, you can lose weight just by lifting weights.

2. How much cardio vs weights should I do per week?

The answer, of course, depends on a variety of factors, including your goals and your current fitness level. If you're just starting out, it's important to ease into things gradually and focus on building up your strength and endurance.

That means doing a mix of cardio and weights, with the emphasis on cardio. Once you've been working out for a while and have built up some muscle, you can start to focus more on weight training. But even then, cardio is still important for maintaining a healthy heart and burning calories.

3. Is cardio better for losing belly fat or lifting weights?

When it comes to cardio vs. weight training for belly fat, it all depends on your goals. If you're looking to lose weight, then a combination of both cardio and weight training is ideal. If you're specifically looking to lose belly fat, then cardio is going to be your best friend.

When you do cardio, you're burning calories - and we all know that in order to lose weight, we need to be in a caloric deficit. But weight training can also help with belly fat loss, by helping to build lean muscle mass. And the more lean muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be - meaning you'll be burning more calories even when you're at rest. So really, it's a matter of finding what works best for you and your goals.

4. Is cardio better for longevity of weight training?

Cardio does have some well-established benefits for longevity, including reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, weight training also has its advantages, including helping to build strong bones and muscles and preventing injuries. Ultimately, the best exercise regimen for longevity is likely one that includes both cardio and weight training. So, when it comes to cardio vs. longevity for weight training, there is no definitive answer.

Bottom Line

So, what's the verdict? Is cardio or weightlifting better for weight loss? The answer, as with most things in life, is that it depends. If your goal is to burn the most calories in the shortest amount of time, then cardio is the way to go.

However, if you're looking to build muscle and burn fat, then weightlifting is the better option. And if you want to do both, guessed it, a combination of both cardio and weightlifting is ideal. No matter which path you choose, remember that consistency and effort are key. So, get out there and start moving - your ideal body awaits!

Article Sources

  • Wing, Rena R., et al. "Benefits of Modest Weight Loss in Improving Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes." Diabetes Care, vol. 34, no. 7, July 2011, pp. 1481–86. PubMed Central,
  • Wang, ZiMian, et al. "Specific Metabolic Rates of Major Organs and Tissues across Adulthood: Evaluation by Mechanistic Model of Resting Energy Expenditure1234." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 92, no. 6, Dec. 2010, pp. 1369–77. PubMed Central,
  • Willis, Leslie H., et al. "Effects of Aerobic and/or Resistance Training on Body Mass and Fat Mass in Overweight or Obese Adults." Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 113, no. 12, Dec. 2012, pp. 1831–37. PubMed Central,
  • Simpson, Richard J., et al. "Exercise and the Regulation of Immune Functions." Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science, vol. 135, 2015, pp. 355–80. PubMed,
  • Lemmer, J. T., et al. "Effect of Strength Training on Resting Metabolic Rate and Physical Activity: Age and Gender Comparisons." Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, vol. 33, no. 4, Apr. 2001, pp. 532–41. PubMed,
  • Bennie, Jason A., and Susanne Tittlbach. "Muscle-Strengthening Exercise and Sleep Quality among a Nationally Representative Sample of 23,635 German Adults." Preventive Medicine Reports, vol. 20, Nov. 2020, p. 101250. PubMed Central,

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Nicole Taylor

Nicole is a professional freelance writer specialized in sports nutrition and home based exercises. She publishes a website dedicated to home exercise and has contributed articles to magazines as well.

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