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Is cardio or weights better for fat loss?

By October 21, 2010January 13th, 20175 Comments

There’s currently a lot of hype in the media right now concerning which is better, cardio or weight training

I read a LOT of fitness related press and blogs. They all seem to offer the same inane point of view which is masked in a layer of fluff accompanied with a steaming pile of bullsh*t.

I could punch you in the face and tell you its a good strengthening mechanism for the cartilage in your nose. I’ll argue that your nose will ‘adapt’, becoming stronger and won’t spill all over your face the next time it has a date with a knuckle sandwich.

See what I did there?

That was FLUFF. A random bunch of garbage to keep you reading, but without answering the question posed in that huge headline up there.

Asking a question such as ‘Which is better, cardio or resistance training?’ is about as useful as asking ‘What’s better, water or air?’.

It all depends on one thing. That one thing being ‘purpose’.

So, is cardio training or weights better for fat loss?

Here’s a few scenarios and categories which you may fall into. Keep in mind, I’m strictly talking exercise here.

Diet is a whole other matter which you SHOULD be taking care of anyway in order to make positive adjustments to your physique.

Which is better, cardio or resistance training?

Cardio and resistance training are equally important

#1 I’m looking to lose fat and tone up

Although this is an area which is as broad as I am receded, I would argue that cardio COMBINED with resistance training will help you reach your goals a lot faster, but you can of course pick one or the other. The body is a smart beast (as I’ve mentioned numerous times) and will burn it’s fat-stores a lot more effectively if you attack them from multiple angles at once.

One of those angles is DIET which is about 80% of the fat-loss equation.

Keep eating like a fatty, and you’ll remain one no matter what your freakin ‘angle’ is.

#2 I’m looking to put on muscle or increase strength

The hardcore weight lifting community out there will probably disagree with me on this one, but here again, i’d abdicate you don’t ditch your cardio altogether. Whilst you need to be concentrating on your weight training most of the time, don’t be afraid to incorporate a day of HIIT training or steady state low-intensity cardio.

I promise you, that you won’t lose all of your hard earned muscle. It’s about keeping those extra kilos at bay whilst you add mass.

Not only that, the upkeep of your cardio-vascular system will allow you to lift weight more efficiently and help you maintain your ‘focus’ in the bedroom (if you get what I mean). Oh you don’t? I’m talking about better SEX.

Note: Don’t go nuts on the cardio in this situation. You’re trying to add mass/gain strength after all, so don’t be burning off calories willy-nilly.
You need those bad-boys to make GAINS!

#3 I’m just starting out, and want to look good naked

When you’re brand new to the game, you want to be careful not to destroy yourself in the gym in the first month. It’s all about baby steps.

If you go balls-out in the gym from day 1, you’ll more than likely be sore 100% of the time, complain about it to your spouse, then quit the gym completely before popping a bag of Oreos on the sofa whilst crying yourself to sleep.

Where was I. Oh, that’s right. You need to take it slow. Start out with 3 days a week training total. 2 days of weights then a day of cardio.

Note: Once you’re finding it too easy, add another day to your regime until you find a sweet spot where you’re working out hard, but not feeling fatigued in and out of the gym all of the time.
Editor’s note: My sweet spot is 4 days. Any more and I feel exhausted. Any less, and I feel like I haven’t exercised enough.

Which is better, cardio or resistance training?

Aspiring to become a long-distance runner has its downside

#4 I’m looking to become a long-distance runner

No weights required here. Just run for hours and hours until you pass out from boredom. Repeat.

I’m obese

Put down that donut you’re holding. Slowly add BOTH resistance training and cardio.

To wrap it up…

You shouldn’t limit yourself to either cardio OR resistance training. A combination of both with see you getting closer to your goals a lot quicker.

At the end of the day, what really matters is that you’re getting your ass to the gym, and making positive changes to your lifestyle.

Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

More posts by Clint Nielsen

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Reinaldo says:

    But, but… cardio will destroy my bicepz! Me wantz anabowlizm!!
    Kidding, obviously.
    I don’t know why people is always trying to make this thing more and more complicated – as in “don’t do cardio on bulkin'”, “buy a stopwatch and closely monitor your resting time between reps to the seconds” and the like. I’ll say do both, they’re both good for you.
    I like your writing and your no-non sense approach. Take care.

  • A very funny but true article … Yes I agree define what you really want (and that can change along the way) then determine (or get someone to do it for you) the tools needed to get the job done … Cardio and weights are only tools they all have their value at some stage I mean if you begin overweight by the time you are lean your workout and diet should be entirely different

  • Well done article. Diet is always a focus but I vary the amount of cardio I do. When I want to lose fat, I ramp up and do a few HIIT workouts per week. When I’m in more of maintenance mode, I ease up. I like to keep a stable resistance training program going throughout.

  • Bryan says:

    Agreed. I would Just to tack on to your post Clint. When I was beginning my fat loss for the first time I went, of course, balls to the walls cardio with light full body weights. That runner high is something, but it goes beyond that ( for me ). I felt better all around. My judgment was more sound and I felt a cloud was lifted from my eyes. Since then, I wanted to go for gains and cut cardio out completely. I have had some gains, but I don’t feel the same so I am currently adding light cardio into my workout to get my blood circulation back to where it should be. Not just clogged muscleman arteries. And for what is better cardio or resistance training… I think that sentence is missing a few more words. As in, “for weight loss” or “for strength gains”. Pretty broad statement, especially for a fitness article(s). Thanks for the good laugh Clint.

  • HAHAH… its so true.. all the fluff thats out there.. I find that whats most important is not whether cardio or strength training is better, but in fact what you like best. whatever you like best, you will continue to do so keep doing that.

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