Weight Loss: resistance training or cardio?

Are you on a weight loss journey and confused on what’s best for weight loss, cardio or resistance training? You have people around you telling you different things based on their “research” or opinion. However, some are completely wrong. I would love to clear up this workout war and hopefully educate at least a few people with the truth!

First, let’s start with explaining what the heck cardio is. Cardio is any exercise that gets your heart rate up to 50-75% of its max. Cardio make the heart beat faster and pump more blood through your system, which carries nutrients and oxygen to every cell. With the right cardio workout, you can burn a ton of calories which is what most people think is best for weight loss. 

Now let’s talk About Resistance Training. Resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in strength, tone, mass, and/or endurance. You typically don’t burn as many calories with resistance training as you do cardio, which is why most think this workout isn’t the best for weight loss. 

So now we know exactly what each workout style is, now let’s talk about which one is actually best for weight loss. The answer is… BOTH! That’s right, both. Resistance training however is MORE IMPORTANT. Cardio should be done 2-3 days a week and resistance training should be done 3-4 days a week. You’re probably wondering why, right? Well, that’s because  building muscle will burn more calories in the long run. Muscles burn more calories through out the day, even at rest. Your body will have to work harder to repair the muscles after each workout (which burns calories). With cardio, you can burn a large amount of calories in one workout which is why it’s still important to do it 2-3 times a week, plus it improves your cardiovascular system. 

Why else is resistance training so important? It’s shaping and toning your body! A person who only does cardio WILL lose weight, but they will also lose muscle and will look like a smaller form of theirselves. A person who does resistance training and cardio WILL lose weight AND they will be curvy, toned and strong!

My plan for this article is to educate others in simple terms without all of the confusing “big words” that make you just scratch your head in confusion. I hope I was successful in doing just that. In case I wasn’t, do resistance training 3-4 days a week and cardio 2-3 days a week. You will be happy with your results 😉 


4 thoughts on “Weight Loss: resistance training or cardio?

  1. Great job pointing the differences out! It’s quite easy to get lost on the internet or even among friends when researching a topic such as this one, so I’m really glad you set it straight!
    I generally had been recommending cardio for weight loss because that’s what I did when i was cutting weight, however you did bring up good points and I’ll change what I recommend from now on. One of the reasons I did that though was because I know that doing resistance will build muscle and many times more muscle=more weight. Is that out done by the amount of calories the muscles burn at rest? Or is the cardio in the mix specifically for that reason?
    Just trying to understand the subject fully in case someone asks! Thank!


    1. Thank you for your comment! More muscle does not exactly mean more weight, maybe you should check out my article on fat vs muscle, it may help you understand why we shouldn’t be afraid to gain muscle while trying to lose weight.

      The cardio 2-3 times a week will keep your calorie expenditure higher for the week and cardio keeps your endurance up which means you will be able to run and move faster which keeps your lunges and heart healthy. In one workout cardio will burn more than a resistance training workout BUT when you finish your cardio workout, that’s all the calories you’re going to burn from it. After you finish a resistance training workout, your body continues to burn calories by supplying oxygen to your muscles and repairing the muscles so you will continue to burn calories for hours after, so in the long run it will end up burning more than your cardio workout. You will continue to burn more calories at rest while you’re just sitting there doing nothing.

      Hope that wasn’t confusing! Lol. Feel free to ask more questions!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! And thank you for the comments!

        Also on a side note, for people looking to lose weight I recommend 3 days of cardio and 3 days of resistance training… For people only trying to gain muscle I recommend 2 days of cardio and 4 days of resistance training.

        Liked by 1 person

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