Effective Fat Loss Training! Which is better, Cardio or Weight Training?

This is a discussion which is often had on the gym floor between gym members and trainers and i’m asked this question at least once a week. There are valid points for both sides of the argument and I hope this short blog will give you a better understanding on how either route will help you achieve fat loss.
Cardio for Fat Loss

Have you often heard the phrase, “slow and steady burns fat”?. A slow and steady approach to cardio vascular training will require you to maintain an intensity of roughly 60% of your maximum heart rate for 30 minutes plus. At that point you will be in the fat burning zone and your body will actively use fat as an energy source, as the intensity is low enough for your body not to require your fast energy(glycogen) as a fuel. The longer you maintain this intensity the more calories you will burn, creating a larger calorie deficit for your day. This approach suits people who arent that keen to beast themselves with high intensity training, plus steady state cardio will allow you to recover faster post workout.

H.I.T Training or High Intensity Training

This approach to cardio vascular training tends to have more post workout benefits for fat loss. For example i put a client through a high intense interval based session whereby they had to perform 10 sets of 1 minute of pedalling as fast as they could on the bike with a 1 minute recovery. After this period my client was visibly very fatigued, sweating, out of breath and heart rate elevation of over 80% during the intense periods. According to the bike, the calories burned was just 200. Research has shown the benefits to this approach is that the increased calorie burn continues after the workout and can actually increase your daily metabolic rate (speed at which you burn calories). This approach suits those who are have time constraints, as shorter time is required to achieve the same fat loss training target for that day compared to steady state cardio.

Weight Training

From experience weight training is often overlooked as a option for fat loss training and many people associate weight training with “bulking up” or that’s only for “body builders” mindset.

Think about this, by increasing your lean muscle mass through weight training, this in turn can potentially increase your fat burning rate. An increase in lean muscle mass will require your body to work harder in order to maintain this.

Circuit training or high rep strength training is also an extremely effective way to acheive fat loss. Like high intensity cardio training this approach can achieve EPOC, defined as “Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption” (Source Wikipedia). Essentially this means the body’s fuel consumption increases and fat stores are broken down. (Source Wikipedia) “EPOC is accompanied by an elevated consumption of fuel. In response to exercise, fat stores are broken down and free fatty acids (FFA) are released into the blood stream.”

An additonal benefit of weight training is that it can help you achieve that “toned” physique.

In conclusion, work out the best approach for you with a combination of cardio or weight training or both. As with any form of exercise, if you are new to it, always seek advice from a medical professional before starting. If you are then free to choose any other options then here are a few tips.

– If you have time constraints then the high intensity approach may work better for you. 

– If you are recent gym starter and new to cardio then initially the low intensity training style may ease you in better.

– With either low or high intensity cardio approach, weight training alongside this, will be beneficial for assisting  your muscle tissue health.

My final word on this week’s blog is that to achieve fat loss, not only is it important to choose the suitable training approach for you, ensure you have an appropriate food and lifestyle program to go with this.


Sources: Wikipedia, Bodybuilding.com(Obi Obadike)

Featured picture source:Sean Weekly Photography

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