Cardio or Strength Training? Which one is better for fat loss

Cardio or Strength Training? Which one is better for fat loss - INC.

Over the years, there’s been a large debate between cardio and strength training involving their usefulness and their effects on fat loss, causing people who already go to the gym and beginners to become confused when it comes to what they should do regarding losing fat. While it’s well known that they both come with many benefits affecting the human body, both have their own time, place, and purpose involving a goal-driven fitness plan. If you would like to maximize the benefits from both these forms of exercise, they both should be used on a consistent basis.

With that being said, we’re going to clarify the details on why these two training methods complement each other, and when it might be essential for the two to be separated 

Both methods burn fat, just in different ways 

“What burns more fat”, this is the question that lies in the center of the age-old debate between the two methods of training. Although it’s likely that you will burn more calories performing cardio, it's more likely that your metabolism will stay increased for a longer amount of time after the completion of a strength training session, which leads to an “afterburn effect” causing calories to be burned even after the workout has ended.

Low-intensity workouts, such as jogging, walking, swimming, biking, etc, do not cause a strong afterburn effect to take place. Once the workout has ended, the burning of calories come to a halt, while at the end of a high-intensity strength training session, the body continues to burn calories, making this process a very useful tool for burning fat while resting. With that being said, if your primary goal involving fitness is losing fat in a sustainable way, it is recommended to include a combination of cardio and strength training in your fitness plan. This way, having the combination of the two included in your workout sessions will assist your body to burn more calories efficiently 

More than just fat loss

Aside from just burning calories and losing fat, cardio and strength training, paired together,  offer the human body great physical and internal benefits. The benefits that cardio offers is the fact that it is great for the overall health of our hearts and helps keep it strong, plus, performing cardio will help you and your body lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

And for the benefits when it comes to strength training, especially working out on a consistent basis, involves helping our bodies build and grow muscle mass with the added bonus of building strong bones that helps slow the process of our bone size and density decreasing with age. Add mental health benefits that include reduced anxiety and depression to the long list of benefits that both cardio and strength training offer and you’ve got a very impressing and appealing combination 

When they don't pair well

Now let’s talk about the times and situations when you should prioritize one training method over the other. This all comes down to and is heavily dependent on the goals of the individual. For example, if you are a weightlifter that partakes in competitions, you should prioritize strength training for building and maximizing muscle growth, if you do excessive amounts of cardio, especially right before a heavy and high-intensity weight training session, that would end being harmful to your growth if you were a competitive weightlifter whose goal is to increase strength and power. In this situation, it is recommended to have a separate day for cardio that is designated for active recovery on a non-weight-training day. 

You will still end up experiencing the benefits of both, even when you have to separate the two training methods, as you rotate between them according to your personal fitness plan and goals

Muscle mass and the power it has on losing fat long-term

In simple terms, having more muscle mass will help with burning more calories. Your body will burn six calories per hour per each pound of muscle your body has and  it will burn 2 calories per hour for every pound of fat your body has, so on average, within 24 hours, a pound of your muscle will burn an extra 96 calories in comparison to the fat stored in your body. If your workout sessions and routine are based more around cardio, but you still haven’t reached your fat loss goal, adding in more strength and weight training based workouts, and  building lean muscle is the key to progressing and getting closer to your fat loss goal.


One of the most important, if not the most important thing when it comes to fitness and exercise, Is making time for your workouts, and finding a training method and creating a workout routine and plan that meets your own personalized goals and at the same something that you can enjoy and commit to.