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Which One Wins? Cardio VS Weight-Training

Not seeing the results you’re looking for in the gym? The problem could be too much cardio and not enough weight and resistance training. Luckily this is one problem with an easy fix.

Both cardio and weight-lifting are incredibly important for your overall fitness.

For so many hitting the gym, cardio is king. You feel comfortable with cardio. And why you may not go so far as to say you love cardio, it’s at least a familiar friend that you know your way around. Those weights and machines on the other hand? Totally different story. For so many of us, weights can be anything short of intimidating, especially when starting out. No wonder you just keep sticking with what you know.

Weight-training can be intimidating, but it’s to your benefit to break out of your comfort zone for personal growth.

But, you may want to try to get a little more friendly with weights and resistance training if total body fitness is what you seek. While cardio is great, and certainly can play a roll in overall health and fitness, it is not and should not be the end all be all of your gym life. Strength training doesn’t to be intimidating and you don’t have to be afraid of trying out. In fact, you should be excited to start pumping iron. Unconvinced? Stick with us to learn why you just might want to get brave enough to venture to the weight room and stay there.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Sure you get plenty sweaty and worn out from your cardio time. And there is no doubt you’re burning lots of calories. You may even be seeing the numbers on the scale dip and think that’s cause for a celebration. But before you break out the bubbly you should know that it might not be just fat sweating of that bod and that the weight might be coming off from other places you didn’t expect.

Minute to minute cardio does in fact burn more calories than weight and resistance training. But if you’re only hitting the treadmill, especially if you’re only doing steady state cardio, you’re probably losing some of your much needed and wanted muscle along with the unwanted body fat.1 Uh oh. And if you’re losing muscle mass, you’re never going to see the toned, truly lean body that you want. You’ll see yourself getting smaller, but never add that coveted tone. So while cardio is great, too much could mean you are transforming your body in all the wrong ways.

Pump It Up

Even Usain Bolt, the fastest man on the planet, who's primary goal is running fast relies on weight training to improve speed.

During active time, cardio does burn more calories than weight training (about 10-12 calories/minute with cardio vs. 8-10 calories/minute with weights). But, and this is big, despite what seems to be a win at the gym, your metabolism tends to return to normal soon after you finish your cardio session (the exception being HIIT training or other sprinting exercises). With strength training, however, you’ll enjoy a spike in your metabolism to for up to 36 hours after you are finished with your workout!2 3

Why Include Weight Training

  1. 1. Increase Metabolism For Longer Time
  2. 2. Enjoy Lean Muscle Retention
  3. 3. Burn More Fat
  4. 4. Have a Better-Balanced Body

That means you will continue to burn calories at a higher rate even after you head for home and go about the rest of your day. Staying with a consistent training program can help your metabolism stay revved up all the time, both in and out of the gym!

Weight and resistance training is also key if you want to increase your lean muscle mass. Not only will lean muscle allow you to achieve a more sleek and toned physique, but for every three pounds of muscle you gain your body will burn up to 120 additional calories per day. Even when you are watching TV!


So, while cardio may help you burn more calories during your active time at the gym, weight and resistance training can not only keep your metabolism going strong but will also dramatically increase your basal metabolic rate. Your BMR is the rate you burn calories even when you are watching TV or sleeping! This means weight and resistance training can help you continue to burn far more calories in the long run. And once you get more comfortable with weights, you will find that they are so much more fun than slogging away on a treadmill for an hour!

A metabolism that stays higher, longer will ensure that more fat is burned & not stored.
The clear winner for the metabolism increase is WEIGHT TRAINING, with a boost up to 36 hours.

Shape That Body

You’ve probably heard people sat that girls shouldn’t lift weights, unless they want to turn into indiscernible forms of masculinity. But should you really worry about getting big and beefy like those female bodybuilders? Not at all! It takes a lot of testosterone to pack on that serious bulk you see at bodybuilding competitions, and women just simply do not have enough testosterone to ever get to that point naturally. Weight and resistance training will not turn you into some mannish version of yourself. Instead, lifting weights will help you achieve lift and tone in all the right places and enhance your natural, beautiful curves.4

Weight and resistance training will help you reshape your body and transform your physique in ways that are absolutely flattering and feminine. While cardio will help you lose weight, since you will typically lose a combination of both fat and muscle, in a lot of cases you’ll simply end up with a smaller version of the body you already have: a slimmer body that is still a little soft around the edges. But to get the results you want, you want to be more than just “skinny”. You want to be strong and fit. You want to feel sexy and confident whether you are in you loosest blouse or the tiniest bikini. Strength training will help you get there. Strength training will help you lose fat while preserving and building up your lean muscle mass for an all around more aesthetic version of yourself.5

It Takes Two to See Faster Results

Ok, now that you are starting to see the value in the weight room and feeling ready to tackle the other side of the gym, should you just go ahead and toss out those running shoes? Not so fast. Cardio is still a great way to burn through calories and fat and to cut down on stress,6 when done in moderation. If you love cardio, you can still keep at it as part of your training schedule. Balancing cardio with weight and resistance training is going to be the key to attaining your ideal physique and total health. You don’t have to give up cardio, simply shift your focus from cardio as the king of the gym to one where it plays a more supporting role.

And if you hate cardio, and have been waiting for an excuse to say adios to the stair stepper, that’s ok too! You can still get plenty of heart healthy cardio training in without the typical machines during your resistance workouts. Just keep moving and keep pushing your body. Doing things in between sets like jumping jacks or burpees will keep your heart rate strong and have you seeing results!

If you haven’t been seeing results, now is the time to change that. Get friendly with the weight room to shape your body into the one you have always wanted.

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Erin Dyer
Erin Dyer is a freelance writer for dietary supplements and proper health & nutrition. She is also a massage therapist, focusing primarily on sports injuries & deep tissue massage. She currently resides in Pleasant Grove, Utah and when she isn't writing or hitting the gym at 5am, she's chasing after her two sons.


  1. Picincu, Andra. How Much Cardio Is Too Much? Things No One Has Told You about Cardio. ShapeYourEnergy.com. 2014.
  2. FIVEK, EMMA ELIZABETH. Cardio Vs. Weight training. Personal.psu.edu. 2012.
  3. Will strength training increase my metabolism?. ShareCare. Accessed 2016.
  4. Galbraith, Molly. Does Lifting Heavy Make You Bulky? Find Out The Truth Here. Girls Gone Strong. 2002.
  5. Clark, Shannon. FAT LOSS WARS: CARDIO VS. WEIGHT TRAINING. Bodybuilding.com. 2015.
  6. FETTERS, K. ALEISHA. What’s Best for Weight Loss: Cardio or Strength Training?. Women’s Health Magazine. 2013.


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