Weight Training vs Cardiovascular Exercise

By on November 10, 2013

One of the biggest ongoing debates in the fitness industry is “Which form of exercise is best for weight loss, cardio or weight training?” First of all it’s a nonsensical debate considering BOTH affect the weight loss process in very different ways, therefor incorporating both is smartest! But pound for pound, intensity levels being equally applied science shows us Cardiovascular Exercise technically burns more body fat, I explain exhaustively now.

First of all lets clarify the categories more appropriately, because “cardio vs weights” from a scientific perspective would be more appropriately titled: Cardiovascular Exercise vs Musculoskeletal Exercise. Cardio (vernacular) burns energy (blood sugars and fats) at a higher rate than body part or body building style weight training. Body part and Body Building trainers are the ones that tend to make this argument against cardio because doing lots of cardio will tap into muscles for energy which is counter productive for their goals. But when you know how the bodies energy production cycles work, the answer becomes readily apparent.

Everyone knows that cardio is short for cardiovascular exercise but did you know musculo is short for musculoskeletal exercise? Just like cardio refers to a number of different types of exercise from running, walking and cycling to hiking, swimming and biking etc…, musculoskeletal exercise covers anything that improves the health and functionality of the muscles, tendons and bones like weight training, resistance training, core training, kettlebells and more.

First you have to argue equal standards, I usually hear statements like “20 minutes of intense weights/core training burns more fat than plodding along for an hour doing cardio” or “running for an hour is better than old fashion body part weight training”. Both are true but are not comparing apples to apples. So lets assume we’re discussing equal time and similar effort or exertion for both.

So now that we’re on equal footing, lets talk science. Don’t look at how many calories you are burning per hour

When you start exercising the energy you need comes from the sugars that are stored in the muscles you are stimulating as well as the sugars and fats in your bloodstream.

It all starts with a little known term called your Beta Oxidation cycle which is when your body pulls adipose tissue body fat (fat in the places you don’t like) and burns fat for energy. Science through clinical studies show that the Beta Oxidation cycle does not kick in until after exercising at >60% your THR at a steady continuous rate for a minimum of 20 minutes.

your energy comes from the sugars and fats in your blood stream and the sugars stored in the muscles themselves. Obviously the more muscles you stimulate the more “calories” and sugars you will burn which plays to the “weights are better than cardio” crowd. But thats still not “fat” loss or weight loss.

So now your exercising through one of the various


About TheFitnessAnswerMan

The Fitness Answer Man is the online personality founded by Kevin Forrest CPT, FMS Pro Trainer and Master Fitness Trainer for the US Military. He has worked in the fitness industry for 30 years and was one of the first trainers to incorporate the physio ball into people's workouts and helped pioneer in the field of "Core" training. He specializes in movement rehabilitation and uses his experience to help clarify the confusion about diet and exercise that still exists within the fitness industry today.

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