Which is Better - Cardio vs Strength Training?
It doesn’t take long before you start seeing ludicrous fitness claims like these:
“Burn 1,000 calories in JUST 45 MINUTES!”
“Lose 15 pounds in JUST 10 DAYS!
“Lose 5 inches off your waist in JUST MOMENTS.”
The fitness world wants you to feel like the only thing that matters in your workout is how many calories you burn, especially if you’re trying to look good naked. On the surface, it makes sense. Weight loss ultimately comes down to creating a caloric deficit; you need to eat less and exercise more to lose weight right?
Well…. Not really.
The number of calories you burn exercising really isn’t that important in the grand scheme of your day. What do I mean by this?
Well… Let me tell you a little story. Just play along...
Imagine you’re in the gym. You’ve decided you want to burn 600 calories. Why 600 calories? Because you really want a nice juicy burger, but you want to eat it guilty free. You’ve committed to your goal. No matter what you have to do, you will make it happen.
So, you hop onto the treadmill, channel your inner Forrest Gump and run on that treadmill. You can spend the entire hour on the treadmill. You’re bored out of your mind, but you’re committed to your goal. Until… YES! At last you did it! It is over! You burn those 600 calories! You’ve accomplished your goal!
So you hop off the treadmill to leave the gym to go “reward” yourself to that 600 calorie burger because you worked out and accomplished your goal.
You earn that burger, right?
Congratulations! You just wasted an hour of your life by being on the treadmill and offset all your hard work and endured an hour of cardio for little to no gains.
Wait what? What happened?
Before you kill me explain. While it is true that you just burn 600 calories, unfortunately a few things happened to neglect all your hard work:
Slowed Metabolism - once you stop running your metabolism begins to slow down and it starts to return to homeostasis level. A slower metabolism means you burn fewer calories!
Off-Setting all your hard work: You just ate the same amount of calories as what you worked so hard to burn off. You went from being in a caloric deficit to neutral. (P.S there’s nothing wrong with eating a burger after working out as long as it aligns with your nutritional goals.
Minimal positive body composition change - All your running is actually reducing your body fat while simultaneously reducing your lean body mass. The end result? All your hard work is actually preventing any change in positive body composition!
These are only a few setbacks of doing too much cardio. For more info, click here
What to do Instead:
You want to focus on resistance training than cardio training.
Resistance training has a multitude of benefits that cardio training just cannot even compete with. Resistance training can greatly improve your everyday movement (i.e. reaching over to tie your shoes or picking your kid off the floor), increases your self-confidence and self-discipline, and immensely improves your energy throughout the day.
You want to think of resistance training as “automatically” burning calories rather than “manually” burning calories when compared to cardio training.
Resistance training burns calories as you’re working out and speeds up your metabolism for hours post working out. Compared to cardio, which will only burn calories while your working out and your metabolism returns to normal homeostasis.
Building muscle is key to getting lean, toned, and defined. Your metabolism will rocket skyhigh and you’ll be able to eat more without gaining fat.
Because all those calories you just ate (i.e that 600 calorie hamburger) will go to building strong, capable muscles and not to your belly and thighs. You’ll look and feel better and the best part? You can enjoy that burger guilty free!
Bottom line: It’s very hard to lose weight when you are just focusing on burning calories. You want to focus on improving your body composition (i.e. the ratio of lean body mass to body fat). Muscle is more metabolically active than fat tissue, so by developing your strength and building muscle you’ll be burning more calories. You want your body to burn those calories automatically, not manually. You want your body to work with you, not against you.
In addition, you need to make smart nutritional choices so you don’t offset all your hard work. All the training in the world cannot offset a bad diet.