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Cardio Vs. Weightlifting: Which Is More Effective for Weight Loss

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Cardio Vs. Weightlifting: Which Is More Effective for Weight Loss

Hatfields vs McCoys. Michigan vs Ohio State. Yankees vs Red Sox. Some rivalries have elevated themselves to such heights that they’ve almost achieved mythical proportions. Cardio vs weightlifting may not be as famous as some of those other rivalries, but you can be sure it’s just as heated!

Ask one crowd, and they’ll dutifully tell you the benefits of lifting weights to achieve weight loss. Ask the other group, and they’ll tout their cardio cred and espouse running or biking as the key to good health. There’s no doubting the benefits of cardio and weightlifting, but which is more effective for weight loss: cardio or weights?

If you were to ask a random person on the street if there is a difference between cardio or weights, they’ll likely tell you that cardio is to lose weight and the only benefit of lifting weights is building muscle. Although there is some level of truth to this, the issue is far more complex than some would believe. There are several things you need to understand about the benefits of lifting weights and running before making your final decision for your weight loss plan.

Before We Get to the Main Event…

holding salad while measuring stomach

Before the grudge match between cardio and weightlifting begins, there’s one issue that has to be addressed first: diet. The greatest key to losing weight is not actually the type of exercise you’ll be undergoing. Rather, you’ll need to make sure your overall diet is in check first.

Why is this? It all comes down to one key reason: calories. One of the benefits of lifting weights and cardio exercise is that you’ll burn calories. Everyone has a different amount of calories that their body needs each day to sustain itself and maintain current weight (WebMD has an excellent calorie calculator that can help you find your caloric need). To find out if you’ll lose weight over time, add the calories of all the food you eat during the day and subtract the calories you burn during exercise. If you are in a caloric deficit (you took in fewer calories than needed), you should lose weight over time. Of course, there are several other factors that can be involved in weight loss (like understanding macros), but this helps you understand how important your diet is in the simplest of terms.

So, before you consider the benefits of lifting weights or the benefits of cardio, do a thorough analysis of your diet. If you don’t, you may just find yourself frustrated.

In This Corner: Cardio

man lifting barbell

There’s no doubt that you can burn calories and lose weight by running. On average, you can burn about 300 calories running 3 miles in about 30 minutes. Of course, this can vary greatly based on a myriad of factors, but it gives you a basic idea of how many calories you can burn as you run.

If you’re struggling with choosing between the benefits of lifting weights or the benefits of cardio, you should look at each of the two and consider a few of the pros and cons of each side. Here are a few key points about cardiovascular exercise.

  • Pro: It’s easy to do. One of the greatest benefits of cardio is that anyone can be involved. Slip on a pair of shoes, lace them up, and just start running. Of course, you can mix up your cardio routine by riding a bike, playing pickup basketball, or even taking an aerobic dance class at your local gym or YMCA. Each of these activities are easy to begin without needing to purchase a bunch of equipment.
  • Pro: There’s a low learning curve. If you’re looking to lose weight, you may feel intimidated by the crowd lifting weights at the gym. What are they lifting? How much are they lifting? Which machines should I use? Another one of the benefits of cardio is that it is accessible, and you can excel at it in a very short time. Just stick to it and remain faithful to your routine, and you’ll see the weight fall off.
  • Pro: It’s a consistent weight loss method. When you’re lifting weights, your caloric burn can change greatly depending on the weights you’re using and the muscles you’re working on. This can cause confusion over time understanding how effective your exercise has been at helping you lose weight. This is rarely a concern with aerobic exercises, as you’ll constantly burn about the same amount of calories for each workout.
  • Con: It can be boring to many. For those who crave variation in their workout routine, when thinking about cardio or weightlifting, one thing to consider will be that aerobic exercise can be a bit of a snooze. This can be a problem long-term. If you start to get bored with your workouts, you’ll be less likely to hit the gym. In the end, this means you’re less likely to lose weight.
  • Con: You’ll lose fat AND muscle. Aerobic exercise is an equal opportunity “loser”. Not only will you lose weight by burning fat, but you’ll also lose some muscle mass as well. This may not be a negative for you depending on your overall fitness goals, but if you’re looking for an all-around sculpted look, this could create a problem.

In This Corner: Weightlifting

There are several benefits of lifting weights, but just like with aerobic exercise, there are a few negatives too. Consider some of these points as you plan your weight loss journey.

  • Pro: Longer-term benefit. One of the greatest differences between cardio or weights is their effects on your body for the 36 hours after exercise. After taking part in aerobic exercise, the effect on weight loss is negligible once your heart rate returns to normal. However, one of the benefits of lifting weights is that, once you’re done with your workout, your body continues to burn fat as your metabolism speeds up to aid your muscles in regeneration. It’s a dream come true: lift weights and your body can burn fat, even while you’re sitting watching TV!
  • Pro: Increase in self-esteem. Many weightlifting enthusiasts also tout increased self-esteem as one of the indirect ways you can lose weight from weightlifting. This may sound odd at first, but it actually makes sense. As your body begins to transform and as you begin to lose weight and grow chiseled muscle mass, it’s likely you’ll become more motivated to continue with your training. The more motivated you are to train, the more weight you’ll lose in the long run.
  • Pro: Less chance of injury. While there are many health benefits to cardio, runners deal with several different common, but painful, injuries that are related to the high impact of the sport. Feet, knees, and hips can all sustain damage over time. In fact, some runners have to stop running altogether because of the cumulative ill effects to their lower body over an extended period of time. These types of injuries are almost nonexistent (although not impossible) with weightlifting.
  • Con: More risk of injury if done wrong. This may sound contradictory to the last point, but it’s not! For as many people who safely lift weights, we all know someone who refuses to use proper form or who never warms up, no matter how many times someone has tried to help them. The risks of neglecting stretching and using improper form when weightlifting are high, especially to the back. To help eliminate some of these issues and to gain the full benefits from lifting weights, consider some of these common weightlifting mistakes and avoid them.
  • Con: It’s intimidating to many. Almost everyone can readily see the many weight loss benefits of lifting weights. However, many people don’t want to start because they’re intimidated by the process. They may think that everyone who lifts weights is a meathead. They may think they’ll hurt themselves. They may even think they’ll embarrass themselves in front of other people. Although veteran weightlifters may scoff at these issues, rookies know that they are real thoughts that go through people's minds when they consider whether the benefits of lifting weights are really worth it or not.

The Tale of the Tape

So, in this epic battle between cardio or weightlifting exercise, who is the victor? The answer is clear: both! That may sound like the easy way out, but when it comes to weight loss and the benefits of lifting weights vs. the benefits of cardio, there are two main things to consider:

  • Do what you love! If you love your exercise, you’ll be consistent in your routine. If you love sweating out your WOD at the box, you’ll lose weight over time. If you love running for ten miles down the local jogging trail, you’ll lose weight over time. But, if you don’t love what you do, you’ll eventually stop doing it. Worst of all, you’ll stop losing weight. So, stop thinking about which exercises will burn the most calories in the short term and think long-term. Do what you love!
  • Don’t limit yourself to one or the other! Instead of looking at weight lifting and aerobic exercise as two competitors in a death match, consider them to be partners that can complement one another. By using a bit of each, you’ll get the benefits of lifting weights and the benefits of cardio. That’s a win/win!

Using BPN Supplements to Reach Your Goals

Although folks may disagree about which cardio or weightlifting exercises are best, there’s one supplement that’s the perfect post-workout pick-me-up no matter how hard you’ve been training: BPN’s whey protein. It has all the ingredients you need to get all the benefits of your weight lifting and cardio workouts. Best of all, each of BPN’s products has clear, transparent labels that are easy to read. You can be confident that you’re putting the very best products into your body. The same can’t be said for many other companies supplements, so choose wisely...choose BPN!

Whatever your weight loss journey looks like, let BPN come along for the ride. Contact us so that we can help you meet your weight loss goals.