Cardio vs weight training for fat loss

This is such a big subject, everyone has their own view and opinions, and yet we are still all the more confused. I have read so many articles, even found myself confused. So here is my personal uptake on what the benefits are for both, and why we should use them in our training.

We all know deep down fat loss requires commitment, a healthy diet, time and us! But why should we slog hours in the gym only not to see any progress, feel deflated and give up. Don't worry I have been there, done every exercise in the sun even spent 45 mins on the dreaded cross trainer, yet the outcome…. ‘skinny fat’ NOT MY GOAL!

With my clients I don't focus on weight, this is through knowledge and lots of experience. What we want is to lose fat, by losing fat we shift those clothes sizes, drop weight and look more toned.

How do we generally burn fat?

Basal metabolic rate is our metabolic rate of burning fat at rest. This is subjected to our age, gender, weight and current levels of body fat. This also determines how many calories you need just to keep your body functioning.

Thermic digestion effect comprises how much energy it takes to burn types of food. For example protein has the highest thermic rate at 20-30%, needing more energy than carbohydrates at 5-10%, and fats at 0-5%.

Exercise is basically how much effort you are putting in and what types of exercise you are doing (we we learn about this later)

Daily activities, what we are burning without exercise. Such as house chores, walking up and down stairs, and what type of job you have.

Now we understand the basics let's talk training

Strength training

We all know that strength training is great for building muscle, but often I find the knowledge on this is limited and underused.

A stronger muscle gives us a greater potential to do everything better, providing power, stamina and better overall performance in cardio training. It helps us release pressure from joints and connective tissues, resulting in increased joint mobility, and lowered risk of injury.

Want to keep looking and feeling younger? Strength training is your goal. With the anti aging effects of prevention in lost muscle mass, and increased bone density you can look younger, stop accumulation of fat, and stop that dreaded weight gain as you get older.

Muscle is your metabolism, so basically the more muscle you have the higher your metabolism is, and the more calories you burn. Research has shown that including strength training in your routine allows the ‘afterburn’ effect, enabling us to burn more calories for around 38 hours after a session. That's around and extra 50 calories for women and 140 calories for men, that's driven me in itself!

So by strength training we can not only burn more calories at rest, but help stop us getting older (effectively), keep fat off and reshape or tone our bodys to look leaner!!

Cardio training

I'm not going to lie. I love cardio training, it relieves my stress while strength training makes me feel strong and powerful, but is it good for fat loss?

Cardio training allows you to see that shift in weight, but what you have lost is both muscle and fat, and your metabolic rate remains the same.

Endurance training will help you burn those calories during the 20 minutes on the treadmill, but what burns after is minimal or nothing, and the stress on your joints will show over time.

So what is good cardio? HIIT (high intensity interval training), this can be done in tabata, intervals, machines or outside. It's a great form of exercise that needs minimal equipment, time and can be done anywhere. You can burn up to 25-30% extra calories in 30 minutes than any other cardio training, retaining that existing muscle, whilst stimulating fat torching enzymes. The other benefits to HIIT training are increased fitness levels from using all aerobic and anaerobic systems, decreased appetite from increased blood flow and better lung and heart function.

So are you more confused?

Basically put both types of training together and you will have a powerful combination for fat loss, Your body composition (fat to muscle ratio) will improve, and you will feel and look better.

Our 5 aims in training for fat loss

  • Aim for HIIT over endurance training around 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes.

  • 2-3 days of strength training to increase muscle mass, and spike your metabolic rate.

  • If your having a strength day heavier weights is ideal making your workout vigorous (but remember safe form is everything).

  • Combine weights with a cardio circuit to create that powerful combination.

  • DIET! A healthy diet is key to success with proteins, unsaturated fats, veggies and unrefined carbs.

Good luck



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