Cardio or weightlifting: Which is more effective for weight loss?

Cardio vs weightlifting: Not sure which one will work for weight loss? Here are the pros and cons of cardio and weight training for weight loss to help you choose.
cardio vs weightlifting
Cardio vs weightlifting: Which one is better for weight loss?
Shruti Bhattacharya Published: 27 Feb 2024, 18:00 pm IST
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Regular exercise plays a vital role in weight management. It helps to improve metabolic function, burn calories, and promote weight loss. Exercise creates a calorie deficit, which is necessary for weight loss. Workouts also increase the amount of lean muscle mass, which boosts metabolism and calorie burning, even when at rest. However, not all exercises contribute to weight loss equally. There is an ongoing debate on whether cardio or weightlifting is better for losing weight. Many people believe that cardio exercises help with fat loss while weight lifting helps in muscle gain. But the truth is, weightlifting is an effective method for weight loss and has some advantages over cardio. So, to help you decide on cardio vs weightlifting, here are all the pros and cons to help you decide which one is better for you.

Cardio vs weightlifting: Pros and cons

Here are the pros and cons of cardio and weightlifting for weight loss.

What is a cardio workout?

Cardio exercise, often known as aerobic exercise, is any rhythmic activity that increases your heart rate to your desired heart rate zone. It also helps to burn calories easily and effectively. Cardio exercises that are most frequently performed are swimming, cycling, and walking. But even simple domestic tasks like sweeping and vacuuming count as aerobic or cardio workouts.

Pros of cardio workout

1. Aids in weight loss

“A cardio workout helps in weight loss by burning calories and fat effectively as compared to other types of workouts,” says Fitness Coach Dr Mickey Mehta.

Plus, cardiovascular exercise burns more calories per minute than weight training because the intensity is continual. This is why engaging in cardiac exercise for weight loss can aid in the reduction of body fat.

However, depending on your objective, the kind of cardio you select is crucial:

  • Low-intensity steady-state cardio, or LISS, is excellent for beginners and can help break through stubborn body fat. It is best suited for those with high weight loss objectives.
  • High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is the most effective way to burn fat while maintaining muscle mass and promoting the production of fat-burning enzymes.
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Cardio helps you lose weight. Image courtesy: Pexels.

2. Enhances sleep quality

Doing cardio workouts helps to improve the quality of sleep, particularly when engaging in moderate-to-intense exercises, as mentioned in a study published in PLOS One Organisation journal.

3. Improves sexual health

Cardio workouts enhance your sexual life by raising your body’s arousal threshold, enhancing your self-image, and possibly even aiding in the treatment of medication-induced sexual dysfunction, according to a study published in sexual medicine review journal.

4. Keeps stress at bay

Cardio workouts reduce stress, partly by strengthening your capacity to deal with problems constructively, as per a study published in a scientific research open-access journal.

5. Improves heart health

Doing cardio workouts helps to strengthen the heart, so it does not have to work as hard to pump blood.

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Cons of cardio workouts

1. You’re constantly aching

Overdoing cardio can cause injuries just like any other type of workout. These could be small cuts or large ones. We frequently attempt to ignore minor discomfort, but any pain should be reported to a coach or physiotherapist right away.

2. Slows down metabolism

Excessive cardio leads to muscle loss, which slows down your metabolism, meaning your body’s capability of burning fat slows down. Your weight-loss progress won’t be as rapid as it formerly was – which is not a good thing for someone trying to lose weight.

3. Your heart rate doesn’t slow down

If you check your resting heart rate after waking up and it remains high for 4-5 days in a row, it could be a serious sign of excessive cardio.

What is weightlifting?

Weight training or weightlifting is a type of physical training where the main goals are to increase strength and muscle mass using weighted equipment like barbells and dumbbells or weight machines like plate-loaded kits. Additionally, it can strengthen muscles, increase power, and enhance general health. Your muscles sustain small tears during weight training, which are subsequently healed to produce stronger, leaner muscles.

Pros of weight training

1. Helps in weight loss

When you lose weight, you may lose muscle mass as well.You should incorporate weight training into your fitness routine as muscles support and strengthen your body. During weight loss, you tend to lose muscle mass and it is best to naturally want to preserve as much of it as possible. Additionally, the amount of muscle you have might affect your basal metabolic rate, which in turn affects the number of calories you burn while at rest.

Callisthenics exercise is proof that you can gain muscle using only your body weight, but the more stress (resistance) your muscles experience, the more work they must put in and the faster they will grow.

2. Strengthens bones

You begin to lose bone density after the age of 30. Putting force on your bones keeps them strong and helps to lessen the likelihood of injury.

3. Reduces stress and anxiety

According to a study published in the Karger Neuropsychobiology journal, specifically weight exercise can aid in reducing depressive symptoms. Beyond the self-assurance that comes from observing tangible changes in your skills and physical appearance, lifting weights releases mood-boosting endorphins that can reduce anxiety and enhance mental health.

a worried woman
Weight training helps you deal with stress and anxiety. Image courtesy: Freepik

4. Improves balance

Keeping your leg and core muscles healthy helps to prevent weak and wobbly limbs. As we age, weight training can help keep us more stable on your feet and reduce your risk of falling. Additionally, it can assist in correcting any physical imbalances; for instance, if one arm is stronger than the other, you can improve the weaker limb by exercising it.

5. Better posture

You may improve your posture and stance by strengthening your back, shoulders, and core with regular weight training that targets the entire body. This will help you sit and stand more upright.

Cons of weight training

1. Improper weightlifting technique

Lifting weights incorrectly can lead to sprains, fractures, and other problems. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned weightlifter, make sure you’re employing the proper form and lifting techniques to prevent harm to yourself or anyone around you.

2. Weightlifting too much

Don’t overdo it, even while we may respect the desire to go fast up to lifting greater weights and a strong enthusiasm for strength training. Give yourself the time you need to get used to lifting bigger weights. It’s essential to avoid back problems and other traumas caused by trying to raise too much weight.

3. Not doing warmups

Warming up is crucial for preparing your body for the demands of weightlifting, just like it is for any other kind of workout. The muscles aren’t ready to hold the weight you’re trying to move when you don’t warm up, which might result in injury.

Which is better for weight loss cardio or weight lifting?

It is preferable to do weight training to gain lean muscle and lose fat. Cardio, on the other hand, will aid in weight loss, enhance cardiovascular health, and reveal your toned muscles. So, the ideal strategy to lose weight is to do a variety of both each week if you want to tone up your body and sculpt your muscle.

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About the Author

Shruti Bhattacharya is a content writer and editor for over 2 years. She specialises in writing on a variety of topics such as wellness, lifestyle, beauty, technology and fashion. Her current focus is on creating factually correct and informative stories for readers. ...Read More

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