Cardio or Resistance For WEIGHT LOSS?

Cardio or Resistance Training For

By Myprotein Writer Paul Jowsey


The words: “I just want to lose weight and tone up” is one of the most commonly heard phrases used by people across gyms worldwide.

The mystery usually lies in how people will reach that goal as more often than not they go about it in an ineffective manner.

As a current practising and certified personal trainer, with a Bsc Hons Degree in Applied Health and Exercise Science, teamed with many years, days, hours and clients of all ages and ability levels, I hear this one too often.

When the best and most effective protocols are used, you will start to achieve the weight loss and body composition changes you first set out achieve… but what are the right ways to do it?


Exercise for weight loss


Nutrition has a huge part to play within a weight loss and lean muscle seeking venture; from reducing calories and saturated fats to swapping high-sugar foods for complex carbs. However, taking part in a form of exercise is key to achieving your ideal physique, built solidly from a specific training routine.

Proven many times through research, practical exercise is the critical variable in optimising body composition changes with weight loss (Hills & Wahlqvist, 1994).


Cardio or resistance training for weight loss?


Gym personalities often display a split of cardio-bunnies pounding the treadmill who work up a sweat in fear of the weights room, in comparison to those who simply weight train, trying every muscle-gaining split going.

Debates then arise from one side of the gym persona commenting how the other form of training will not help them reach their goal; whether they are scientifically right is another matter.

For this particular discussion, in terms of weight loss and overall health, are weights or cardiovascular training more beneficial? Both? Just one? Why?


Cardio for weight loss

Cardio for weight loss

Cardiovascular workouts are a great way of increasing overall fitness and health levels.

Benefits include:

– Better heart health due to increased blood circulation

– Increased metabolism

– Increased energy levels

– Improved sleep:

Exhausting your body will allow for a better night’s sleep making it more likely to sleep closer to the recommended 7-8 hours sleep per night. As a by-product, your mood will improve and your mind will feel refreshed and revived to allow for a positive outlook on the day ahead.

The method of cardio, cardio and more cardio is usually recommended by the likes of the ACSM, who advise that a minimum of three 20-30 minute sessions per week are good grounds for weight loss.

In terms of programmes that promote weight loss, they often advise five 30-minute sessions per week to achieve maintainable and consistent results. Although I think this seems about right, I’ve experienced people feeling deflated when reaching a plateau.

I see it often – once the weight starts to drop a little and confidence increases, goals go beyond decreasing the number on the scale and more towards building lean muscle and adding shape to physiques.


Resistance Training for weight loss

Weights for weight loss

Resistance training – incorporating weights into exercise routines – can benefit those who can’t seem to budge any more weight or achieve further results, no matter the levels of cardio, however many times a week.

Including weights in an exercise routine will target and strengthen different muscles in the body with the sole purpose of building muscle mass. Whether you’re male or female – the more muscle tissue you have, the more calories you will burn… even when resting!

(For those who worry) Male’s muscles will naturally grow in size and be visibly bigger due to the high level of testosterone, whereas lean muscle in females will naturally replace body fat, appearing lean rather  than ‘bulky’ due to their lack of male hormone.

Resistance training has also been shown to have some of the below benefits:

– Lowering body fat

– Decreasing blood pressure

– Improving cholesterol

:ACSM, (2013) Resistance Training For Health And Fitness.

These aspects are beneficial for overall health and in aiding weight loss, so surely it would make sense to team resistance with cardio for maximum results?


Cardio and resistance training for weight loss


Achieving your desired physique should be made easier by combining:

– Cardio to burn excess fat and to improve overall fitness, with

– Resistance training for an overall higher calorie burn per work out


Cardio and resistance training to lose weight


Incorporating resistance training into your routine will significantly help the growth of lean muscle mass if done correctly and consistently.

Focussing on compound moves and working large muscle groups with free weights or weight machines will kick start a medium between increased fitness and strength as a whole.

Tip: Performing full body workouts to start with should get all of your muscles working and familiar with the change in training.


Exercise plans for weight loss


Using each of these exercises with lighter loads should contribute to boosting your weight loss:

– Full body circuits: a short, fast training session that can be completed using minimal equipment to target each part of the body.

– Super sets: no rest in between sets.

– Drop sets: repeating sets whilst reducing the weight each time until you can’t complete any more (until failure)

– Giant sets: Completing four or more exercises that target the same body part.


Resistance training for weight loss


Concentrate on high volume and frequency to maximise overall calorie expenditure and to hit maximum muscle fibres per session.

Rep range, sets, rest period, frequency and load all need to be tailored towards weight loss. Be brave, leave the ego at the door and prepare for high reps, high volume, short rest periods and that deep burn of lactic acid and blood filling those muscles.


Results with Combination Training


Information regarding combination training may be seen as bias, however, it is been proven that a 12-week training program comprising of resistance or combination of cardio and resistance exercise, at moderate-intensity for 30 min, five days per week resulted in improvements in the cardiovascular risk profile in overweight and obese participants. (Ho et al, 2012)

The same study also showed significant improvements in body weight, total body fat, body fat percentage, abdominal fat percentage and cardio-respiratory fitness.

In addition to the study, as a practicing trainer myself, I have found the combination of cardio and resistance training more beneficial and effective for clients wanting similar goals.


Take Home Message


This training theory, in addition to taking supplements such as L-Carnitine, Impact Diet Whey, Mega Green Tea Extract and BCAA+, has worked better for myself and clients in achieving and maintaining weight loss and contribute to lean muscle gains.

Whether you begin with low intensity steady state (LISS) or high intensity interval training (HIIT), depending on your current fitness levels and time availability, team it with a compound heavy, high volume, full body focused, circuit-style resistance training plan and with consistency, good nutrition and hard work you can achieve those results you want.


Weight loss elements











Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.



Writer and expert

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