If I asked 10 people on the street: “What is better for beginner weight loss: Weight Training or Cardio?”
Most people would say cardio.
However, over the long-term, excessive conventional cardio can actually make you gain fat.
But before I get into that, the reason most people think conventional cardio is better for fat loss versus weight training is simple.
Conventional advice says for a beginner, 60 minutes of slow and steady cardio typically burns more calories in 60 minutes, than 60 minutes of weight training.
However, the reason why is because slow and steady cardio is continuous.
This means your heart rate remains elevated for longer periods of time compared to weight training, since weight training incorporates rest periods.
This conventional advice is based on the core goal of weight loss, which comes down to being in a calorie deficit.
This simply means you burn more calories than you consume via food.
However, here’s the tricky part.
These calorie burning numbers are only taking into consideration the amount of calories being burned DURING that 60 minute workout.
What we really need to look at is how cardio vs. weight training affects how the body burns calories for the 24 hours THROUGHOUT the day.
So lets get into it.
This is the amount of calories your body burns when you’re at rest. For example, the number of calories you burn while you’re sleeping.
This is the amount of calories burned during physical exercise. For example, your workouts.
This is the amount of calories you burn during the day when you are not sleeping and not working out. For example, when you’re at the office.
So when you take into account all 3 ways your body burns calories, weight training far exceeds the TOTAL amount of calories burned at the end of the day compared to conventional cardio.
Weight training drastically increases your BMR and your non-exercise energy expenditure, when compared to steady state cardio.
This means your total amount of calories burned at the end of the day are higher, when you lift weights.
Lets take a closer look at the…
I’m sure you know that lifting weights can help build lean muscle.
In other words, lean muscle helps dramatically increase your basal metabolic rate.
Also, weight training helps maintain lean muscle when you are in a calorie deficit.
Not good as this means your body will burn less calories, and body fat, when at rest.
This is why it’s so important for beginners, who are in a calorie deficit, to lift weights.
The goal of healthy and sustainable beginner weight loss is specifically losing weight from stored body fat, not lean muscle.
Lifting weights can help protect muscle while still losing body fat.
Weight training has been shown to increase the baseline levels of the important fat burning hormones in the body, including growth hormone.
These hormones help burn more body fat, and once again, improve your basal metabolic rate.
Also weight training also improves insulin resistance, which is a huge benefit.
This leads to more inflammation in the body, increased aging, and a greater risk for disease.
Weight training can help improve insulin resistance by increasing the sensitivity of your cells to insulin, thus allowing your body to burn sugar for energy, rather than storing it as fat.
This simply means the body needs more oxygen to recover after a weight training workout versus conventional cardio.
This recovery then requires the body to burn more calories, sometimes up to 24% more, for approximately 24 hours after the weight training workout.
Similar to the previous point, when the body’s energy stores are recovering after a weight training workout, more stored body fat, versus sugar, is being burned for short-term energy.
The fat loss results are hard to argue with.
And yes, if you have 100 pounds to lose, conventional cardio, or any type of movement, can help in the beginning of your fitness journey.
But if you only have 10-30 pounds of body fat to lose, weight training is the best style of fat loss workout.
Compared to conventional cardio, weight training is optimal for improving your metabolism, burning stored body fat, and building lean muscle.
This is all key to having a lean, youthful, and healthy body composition.
So for long-term health and overall fat loss, focus the majority of your workouts on weight training.
And if you’re new to weight training, I’ve got you covered.
I just created a brand new 6 week beginner weight training program for gym newbies.
It’s a step-by-step program that you’ll have on your mobile device.
That way, when you walk into the gym, you’ll know exactly what to do.
Each workout includes beginner exercises that come with an exercise demonstration video so you can perform each exercise safely.
The program comes with a 6 week workout schedule, with 18 different, and unique workouts that all can be completed in less than 60 minutes.
Each workout gives you the specific order of exercises, the rep counts, the sets, and rest periods, as well as indicating how much you should be lifting, and how fast you should be moving the weight.
It also includes short, beginner HIIT interval cardio workouts, that show the proper way to get more results out of your cardio workouts, in less time.
You’ll also get a nutrition plan to ensure you’re eating the right foods in the correct amounts, as well as access to our private Facebook accountability group.
This is the place where you’ll join hundreds of other beginners, just like you, for accountability, support, and a place to ask me any questions you have.
Get our beginner weight loss program, Live Lean Newbie here.
Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.