Note- The article reflects the understandings of the coach and might differ from that of other coaches on MensXP Health.
There are plenty of articles over the internet debating cardio versus weight training for fat loss. Cardio has been used as the main tool for fat loss ever since the bodybuilding business kicked in. Back in the day, during season time for a competition, while competitors prepped, they made two important changes in their style of eating and training. They followed a diet conducive to fat loss and also changed their style of training. Light weight with more reps and extra sessions of cardio. However, over the period of time, science and research have come to the conclusion that cardio training is not the best tool for fat loss. The benefits of weight training towards fat loss happened to outweigh the benefits of cardiovascular training. Suddenly people realized the importance of weight training when it came to fat loss.
Why Is Weight Training More Superior For Fat Loss
1) More calorie expenditure while lifting heavy
2) More break down of muscle, which means more EPOC (Excess post exercise oxygen consumption) More EPOC means more calorie burnt, post exercise.
3) Greater surface area of damage to muscle means more calorie expenditure during repair, growth and super compensation.
4) Weight training promotes more lean muscle mass, which increases BMR since muscle is a metabolic active tissue.
Those are some pretty good reasons to choose weight over cardio for fat loss.
However, Let's Look At Some Points Of Practicality Before We Bash Cardio Training For Its Contribution Towards Fat Loss
1) To increase cardiovascular efficiency
2) To increase capillarization
3) Reduce stress related issues
4) Increase efficient flow of blood all over the body
However cardiovascular training has one more benefit and that is to contribute towards calorie expenditure. Now that we have sorted out the advantages of both types of training, Let us see how we can take advantage of both worlds and increase fat loss.
1) Cardiovascular Training For Advanced Gym Goers
For an experienced lifter, it wouldn't make sense if he did a lot of cardio for fat loss. For someone who can reap the benefits of weight training, it will take him a long way if he focused on his diet and lifted heavy for fat loss goals. However, doing cardio will also contribute to calorie expenditure, and if he plans his workouts cleverly, he can surely add cardio into his routine. The process of fat loss will be quicker.
2) Cardiovascular Training For Beginners
After listing all the benefits of weight training when it comes to fat loss, would a beginner who's never lifted weight his entire life be able to take advantage of what weight training has to offer when it comes to fat loss? I think not. There are certain challenges a novice person will experience while he begins his introduction to weight training
1) Proprioception to lifting weights has not been developed yet
2) The central nervous system is not yet trained to recruit the required number of motor units to lift heavy
3) Form and technique to efficiently lift weights have not been worked on.
4) The mental focus and experience of lifting are not yet prevalent.
5) Other components of fitness such as the flexibility to get the body in a particular posture or cardiovascular endurance to not fatigue too soon while lifting may not be to its best potential.
All the points mentioned above will reduce the capacity for a beginner to reap the benefits of what weight training can do for him when it comes to fat loss. Since a lot of time will be spent on working on form and technique etc. using very light exercises, the amount of calorie expenditure will not be as high as it can be if he spent time doing cardio. The breakdown of muscle to create sufficient EPOC will not be enough. The intensity of the exercise will be too low and hence not be as efficient as it's meant to be. In such cases, it makes perfect sense for a beginner to focus on cardio for fat loss, as this would be a domain he will be more comfortable or confident during his early days.
Does this mean he should stick to only cardio? Absolutely Not!
Excessive cardio can lead to muscle loss. Period and it has been proven! A client who is a beginner should be made to understand the bigger picture. He should also be educated in weight training and made to understand its importance in fat loss in the long run. Although a beginner's workout will involve more cardio for his fat loss, weight training should not be neglected. A proper program can be made where the first half of his training is focused on weight training and understanding form and technique and preparing him for the big picture and the remaining time can be dedicated to cardio to focus on that excess calorie burn that is required for a beginner to stay lean. Hence neither cardio nor weight training should be bashed about, as they all have a role to play case.