Weights vs Cardio for weight loss. Weights vs Cardio for fat loss. Weights vs Cardio to get “shredded”… who will win?
David vs. Goliath
Ali vs. Foreman
Rangers vs. Celtic
In the hierarchy of famous conflicts, cardio versus weight training is right up there.
In fact, it probably ranks somewhere between the battle of Gettysburg and Israel vs. Palestine.
In the one corner, you have the cardio crowd – convinced that hour upon hour of steady state work is the way to go, and that they simply need to burn off all the food they eat to get lean, trim, toned and shredded.
Then you have the weights junkies.
To these guys, cardio is what you do when you’re taking your dumbbells to and from the rack.
The thought of a cross trainer or treadmill strikes fear deep into their hearts.
But which mode of training is superior?
And actually, does it even need to be so extreme? Could we possibly have some middle ground?
Let’s find out.
The Benefits of Cardio
Cardio burns calories.
That’s by far and away its main benefit.
But it isn’t just about burning calories.
Cardio can definitely help with your work capacity, and actually aid with your weight training. With a decent cardio base, you won’t feel quite so gassed after a set of high-rep squats, or even be left huffing and puffing after an arms superset.
If you want to be “functionally fit” then some form of cardio is pretty vital.
That doesn’t mean you have to slog away on a rower or bike, or go running though – cardio can include circuit-type training, metabolic conditioning, playing sports, and even barbell complexes.
When dieting, cardio helps bump up your calorie deficit without you having to eat less food, while on a bulk, it enables you to eat more without gaining excess fat.
That sounds mighty fine to me!
A Weighty Advantage
So what about our good old friend weight training?
Even if you’re not, it probably goes without saying that lifting weights is imperative if you want to gain muscle and get stronger.
So what about for fat loss?
Weights burn calories too.
Shock horror, eh, cardio bunnies?
In terms of calories burned per minute, weights may not quite rival a cardio session (although this depends highly on the type and intensity of both forms of training) but lifting weights does have the added bonus of an increased EPOC (excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption) effect. This is essentially an increase in calorie burn for 24 to 48 hours after a workout.
This effect may often be overstated, but it shouldn’t be dismissed either.
Secondly, lifting weights makes you avoid the “skinny fat syndrome.”
We all know the guy or girl who’s lost a hell of a lot of weight by slashing their calories and tethering themselves to a treadmill for 3 hours a day, but how do they look?
Lighter and leaner without a doubt …… but they also look gaunt, saggy and skinny-fat.
They may have lost weight, but they’ve lost a lot of muscle too. That’s not a good look for anyone.
Okay, Talk to me About Disadvantages?
Are there any drawbacks to either form of training when applied sensibly?
Well, cardio can potentially have a negative impact on your weight training.
A lot of cardio (particularly repetitive movements) can cause soreness and tightness to occur around your hips and knees, so it may not be wise to perform a load of high-intensity sprints or bike intervals the day before a heavy squat session.
As for disadvantages of weights – that’s a tougher one, but when you really think about it there are a couple that are worth taking note of.
For one – injuries.
When dieting, your form on the big lifts may well change due to a loss of tissue around your joints, and in an attempt to maintain strength at a lighter bodyweight and lower calorie intake, it becomes tempting to sacrifice form for numbers, putting you at a higher risk of injuries.
At some point too, particularly towards the end of a diet, you may find that from a satiety and sanity point of view, you simply don’t want to reduce calories any more, and added weight training to make up your deficit can lead to progress plateaus and burn outs, which is when a little extra cardio (usually of the steady state variety) can be a fat loss saviour.
Bottom Line: Don’t Be An Extremist
Both weight training and cardio have their place in ANY plan, whatever your goals.
For both fat loss and muscle gain though, weights should always be programmed first, as resistance training has by far the biggest impact on your body composition.
Likewise, when creating a calorie deficit, you need to look at your diet before your cardio, and add cardio when it’s needed.
There really aren’t any hard and fast set rules for what is “best” but personally, I like this little guide –
Bulking (with a focus on body composition) – Weights: Cardio Ratio = Between 3:1 and 6:1
Bulking (with a focus more on performance, either for sport or for endurance/ fitness) – Weights: Cardio Ratio = Between 1:1 and 4:1
Fat Loss (with a focus on body composition) – Weights: Cardio Ratio = Between 2:1 and 4:1
Fat Loss (with a focus more on performance, either for sport or for endurance/ fitness) – Weights: Cardio Ratio = Between 1:3 and 2:1
Above all, keep both in perspective, don’t go to extremes, and be prepared to adjust your training depending on your progress, your recovery, and, perhaps more importantly, your enjoyment.
Because what good is training if you don’t get a kick out of it?
For more information from Mike Samuels vist – http://www.healthylivingheavylifting.com