The Strength Training / Cardio Debate

Which is better: Cardio or Weight Training?

Although experts will argue that cardio training is better for weight loss than strength training, the real truth is that both can be effective.

Cardiovascular exercise burns calories. Creating that calorie burn deficit is crucial to losing weight. One pound is equal to 3,500 calories. You have a daily need for a specific amount of calories to maintain your weight called “Basal Metabolic Rate = BMR.” Typically an easy way to figure out your BMR is take your body weight in pounds and multiply by 10. A 130 lb. women will need approximately 1300 calories a day to maintain her weight. So in order for her to lose weight, she will need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories to lose a pound.

Although strength training burns calories and can increase more lean muscle mass, one pound of muscle will only burn 5-10 more calories a day. So for the short term, cardio will help you peel off the pounds faster.

Recent workouts including HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) are a cardio and strength format that can be very effective.

Think of high intensity strength intervals followed by recovery cardio levels. The Tabata format of 20 seconds of strength followed by a 10 second rest for eight sets is one effective HIIT workout.

However, cardio workouts can be in the HIIT format as well. As long as you are working in a 1:2 ratio of high to lower intensity, you will find successful results. For example, try 1 minute of high intensity (i.e. sprinting or jumping rope ) followed by 2 minutes of lower intensity or “active recovery” exercise like jogging or walking. You’ll hit higher calorie burn rates than by just doing steady-state cardio or a constant pace of walking or jogging.