LISS Cardio vs Strength Training For Weight Loss

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Best Way To Burn Fat For Men and Women

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m sharing the best way to burn fat for men and women, by comparing low intensity steady state (LIIS) cardio vs strength training for weight loss.

One of the biggest challenges in dealing with men and women gym newbies, is helping them overcome their fear of strength training.

And just to be clear, when I use the term “strength training”, I’m not referring to strongman or strongwoman training.

Also when I say cardio, I’m referring to low intensity steady state cardio (LISS), not high intensity interval training (HIIT).

What is strength training?

LISS Cardio vs Strength Training For Weight Loss

Strength training simply means using any form of added resistance such as:

  • barbells
  • dumbbells
  • machines
  • kettlebells
  • resistance bands
  • sandbags or water bags
  • your bodyweight

Essentially any form of resistance, that challenges your muscles to work harder than they normally do.

Why most gym newbies prefer cardio vs strength training for weight loss

Whenever I ask a gym newbie why they prefer LISS cardio vs strength training for weight loss, I usually receive one of the following two answers:

  1. “I don’t know how to lift weights, so I’m scared of looking stupid and possibly injuring myself.”
  2. “I want to tone, lose fat, and not get to bulky with muscle, so cardio is a better fit for my goals.”

Sure the first answer may sound reasonable, but you need to understand, everyone starts their journey in the gym that way.

Lets be real, just like you weren’t born knowing how to drive a car, you can also learn how to safely lift weights.

What about people who don’t want to get too “bulky”?

Now lets talk more about being scared to get to bulky, because you build muscle “very easily”.

If you think lifting weights will make you look like a professional bodybuilder, think again.

LISS Cardio vs Strength Training For Weight Loss

Muscle is one of the hardest things for 98% of the population to build naturally.

In order to build muscle like a bodybuilder, you have to eat way more calories than you’re eating and be training for hours in the gym every day.

And in some cases, having some help from steroids.

Especially when it comes to women, it requires a lot of testosterone to build huge muscles, and females don’t naturally produce enough of it to get that look.

LISS Cardio vs Strength Training For Weight Loss

Many of those professional female bodybuilders with big muscles, are known to be supplementing with testosterone.

But I’m an endomorph so I build bulky muscle easily

When most people think they build muscle easily, they usually have an endomorph body type, meaning they have a higher propensity of adding body fat easily.

LISS Cardio vs Strength Training For Weight Loss

So if you’re lifting weights and notice your pants aren’t fitting anymore around your waist, get your diet in check.

It’s probably stored body fat, not muscle.

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Cardio vs strength training for weight loss

To lose weight and burn body fat, you need to create a calorie deficit by burning more calories than you take in.

The biggest reason why strength training is better for weight loss vs cardio is because of the effect muscle has on increasing your metabolism, which leads to more weight loss.

Your resting metabolic rate (RMR), not your workouts, is the biggest contributor to how many calories your body burns in a day.

What is your resting metabolic rate (RMR)?

Resting metabolic rate (RMR) refers to the energy, in the form of calories, that is required to keep your body functioning properly.

Yes, your body burns the most calories throughout the day, just to keep your heart beating, your lungs breathing, and your body operating.

Your resting metabolic rate is approximately 60-80% of your total metabolic rate.

What is your total energy expenditure (TEE)?

Your total metabolic rate is the total energy expenditure, or the total amount of calories you burn a day.

It’s made up of the following equation:

  • Total Energy Expenditure (TEE)
  • = Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) + Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA) + Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF)

Since your resting metabolic rate (RMR) makes up to 80% of your total calorie burn, it’s important to do whatever you can to increase your RMR.

One of the best ways to increase your resting metabolic rate is increasing your lean muscle mass.

In other words, when you build muscle, you also increase your RMR.

Therefore the more muscle your body has, the more calories you will burn at rest, and during your daily activity.

More muscle equals higher daily calorie burn

Lets look at this example:

  • Tammy is 135 lbs with 20% body fat
  • Lisa is 135 lbs with 40% body fat

If they went for a 5 mile walk together, at the same speed, who do you think would burn more calories?

Even though they both weigh the same amount, Tammy who has more lean muscle tissue, would burn more calories.

The reason?

It takes more calories to move muscle, than it does to move stored body fat.

In fact, by adding just 1 pound of muscle, your body can burn an additional 50 calories per day.

5 pounds of muscle = 91,250 calorie burn

Since, there are 3,500 calories in one pound of fat, imagine how much more calories your body will burn, if you added 5 lbs of muscle.

The answer is, you would burn 250 more calories per day, for 365 days a year, equaling an additional burning of 91,250 calories per year.

Keeping all things equal, 91,250 calories/3500 calories in one pound of fat, equals  an additional 26 lbs of fat loss per year!

This 26 pounds of fat is burned by simply living your life, not from working out more or eating less.

By building muscle, you increase your RMR, thus your body burns more calories at rest.

Now that we covered the biggest factor in your daily calorie burn, lets talk about the other two smaller contributing factors.

What is your thermic effect of activity (TEA)?

Thermic effect of activity (TEA) refers to how active you are, and the effect that your activity level has on your daily total calorie burn.

Obviously, the more active you are, the higher your daily total calorie burn.

These activities can include anything that involves moving your body such as:

  • lifting weights
  • cardio
  • playing sports
  • or even mowing your lawn

The afterburn effect of strength training

Both strength training and cardio can increase your total daily calorie burn.

However, when comparing cardio vs strength training for weight loss, strength training increases the amount of calories burned after your workout, at a higher rate, then low intensity steady state cardio.

Burning more calories after your workout is often referred to as EPOC, excessive post oxygen consumption, or the Afterburn Effect.

You can maximize the afterburn effect via your workouts based on the following program variables:

    • training style
    • exercise selection
    • rep and set ranges
    • rest periods

By triggering the afterburn effect, you can burn more calories for approximately 24-36 hours after your workout.

That way you burn calories at a higher rate, even while you sleep.

My best selling workout program, Live Lean Afterburn, follows these training variables.

The 42 day Live Lean Afterburn program has helped hundreds of people recompose their last 5-10 pounds of stubborn body fat, while maintaining and building new muscle.

What is the thermic effect of feeding?

Thermic effect of feeding (TEF) refers to the amount of calories burned by simply eating and digesting food.

Foods high in protein have a higher thermic effect, meaning your body can burn approximately 30% of the calories from eating a chicken breast, simply by digesting it.

Based on the three variables in the total energy expenditure formula, you can understand why everyone’s metabolic rate is different.

Bottom line: cardio vs strength training for weight loss

One of the major keys to sustainable weight loss, is having a fast and healthy metabolism.

Lean muscle is the key driver of your metabolism, meaning the more you have of it, the more calories you’ll burn throughout the day.

This is why when comparing cardio vs strength training for weight loss, strength training is king.

Strength training helps build muscle.

Excessive low intensity steady state cardio can actually breakdown and burn into lean muscle, thus slowing your metabolism.

Plus, when you follow a strength training program, it’s actually much more enjoyable as the workouts change, so it keeps things interesting.

With LISS cardio, it’s pretty boring as it’s monotonous, and mindless. This often leads to people quitting before they get results, because it’s so boring.

Although both LISS cardio and strength training can have a place in a weight loss program, the priority should be given to strength training.

Spend more time lifting weights then add in 10-20 minutes of LISS cardio after your strength training workout.

Or on your off days, you could also add in LISS cardio if you have time.

If you only have a limited amount of time, and set days where you can workout, focus the majority of the workout on building metabolically active muscle.

But don’t make this strength training mistake

The resistance you’re lifting has to be heavier than what you do on an everyday basis.

For example, you can’t expect to get results lifting 3 lbs pink dumbbells, if you’re used to carrying around a 10 lbs baby every day.

One of the key principles to strength training is the idea of progressive overload.

In other words, continuously pushing the muscle to grow stronger, by adding more resistance.

Plus, if you think strength training doesn’t elevate your heart rate, you’re doing it wrong.

In fact, when you do the right type of exercises, while lifting a weight that challenges your body, a lot of times your heart rate will actually be higher when compared to LISS cardio.

So if your goal is weight loss, make sure you are following a structured strength training program in addition to a well designed cardio program.

A good balance of cardio and strength training will help raise your metabolism and keep fat off for life.

To find the best program for you based on your goals, fitness level, and access to equipment, I highly recommend you go take our free and quick Live Lean Body Quiz.

Remember, you’re only one program away from creating a lifestyle of Living Lean, 365 days a year, forever.

Thanks for watching and keep Living Lean.


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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.

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