The long-standing debate surrounding cardio and strength training has made headlines over the years and created confusion among gym-goers looking to slim their waists. While both offer many benefits to the body, the suggestion as to why one should be used in place of the other, especially when it comes to fat loss, is a conversation that won't die down entirely.
While both forms of exercise have their time and place within a goal-oriented fitness program, both must be used consistently to reap the benefits of this dynamic duo.
So why the debate? Simply put, cardio enthusiasts often have different fitness goals than avid weightlifters, and vice versa. This popular debate is often raised when people debate which form of exercise is more effective for fat loss.
With that said, let's iron out the details of why these training methods complement each other (and your physique) and when it may be necessary to separate the two.
Cardio and strength training both burn fat, just differently
Here's the crux of the debate: which exercise method burns more fat? While you're likely to burn more calories during a cardio session, your metabolism is likely to stay elevated longer after a weight training session; Create a steady stream of opinions about why you should choose one exercise method over the other.
Jeff Cervero, a Registered Dietitian and Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist with over 26 years of experience, puts it this way: "In general, low-intensity, long-duration aerobic exercise burns more calories than strength training during the actual workout." On the other hand Can high-intensity anaerobic exercise, such as For example, weight training can keep your metabolism boosting long after your workout due to an "afterburn effect" called EPOC, or excessive oxygen consumption after your workout.
"EPOC means the number of calories expended to recover from a training session," says Cervero. "The effect of EPOC depends more on the intensity of an exercise than on its duration."
Lower-intensity aerobic-based workouts, such as B. jogging, do not trigger much EPOC. “Once the workout is over, the calorie burn stops; On the other hand, when a high-intensity anaerobic exercise session is over, calorie burning continues,” says Cervero. This process is very helpful for resting fat burning.
If your primary fitness goal is sustained fat loss, Cervero recommends a combination of strength training and cardio. Combining the two (done on the same day or not) will help your body burn more calories post-strength training and burn more in-session calories on your cardio days.
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This perfect pair brings more than fat loss to the table
Better together, cardio and strength training provide the body with both medical and physical benefits that go beyond fat loss. "Cardio is great for heart health and helps lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer," says Cervero.
Strength training, especially when done consistently, helps build muscle mass (and strong bones), which declines with age. "Strength training can slow this process down and improve overall quality of life," he adds. Add mental health benefits like reduced anxiety and depression to the many benefits that both cardio and strength training offer, and you have an impressive combination.
When cardio and strength training don't go well together
The benefits of both training methods are unmatched, but there are times when one can be preferred over the other. This depends on individual goals. For example: “A competitive weightlifter should prioritize strength training over building muscle; Excessive cardio, especially immediately prior to a heavy weight training session, would be detrimental to a competitive weightlifter whose goal is to increase strength and power," says Cervero.
In this case, Cervero recommends a separate cardio day for active recovery and light exercise on a non-weight-training day.
Even if you need to separate cardio from strength, you'll still experience the benefits of both if you rotate them according to your goals.
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The power of muscle mass for long-term fat loss
The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn. "Muscle is metabolically active, which means it burns more calories than body fat at rest," says Cervero. He continues, "Your body burns six calories an hour per pound of muscle and 2 calories an hour per pound of fat — On average, 1 pound of muscle burns 96 additional calories over 24 hours compared to fat tissue." If your routine is cardio-dominant and you still haven't reached your fat loss goal, building lean muscle mass through strength training is key.
Keep in mind
The most important thing when it comes to exercise, says Cervero, is to make time for it. "The best way to exercise is very individual, and the best time to exercise is always one that you can best stick to so that it becomes a lifelong habit," he says. take that away? Find a training method that meets your personal goals; one that you enjoy to ensure a lifetime commitment to exercise.