Burn Fat Fast: Power of Combining Cardio and Strength Training

One of the classic debates in weight loss is whether to focus more on weight training or aerobic exercise. In the past, people often avoided weight training and only did cardio to lose weight. But here’s the thing: building muscle might actually cause the scale to go up at first.

However, muscle is lean tissue, and having more of it can improve your body composition and boost your metabolism, which might help with weight loss. This doesn’t mean you should skip cardio, though. Cardio and weight training are different types of exercise, but combining them can be really effective for burning fat.

What Is Strength Training?

Strength training, or resistance training, is key for building muscle and increasing strength. You can use equipment like dumbbells, barbells, weight plates, resistance bands, or kettlebells to work your muscles against resistance.

Alternatively, you can use just your body weight. Exercises like push-ups and lunges are fantastic for building strength without any equipment.

Benefits for Weight Loss

Strength training, like other forms of exercise, helps you burn calories. Generally, a good cardio workout will burn more calories than a typical weight-training session. However, resistance exercise can still support your weight loss goals in other important ways.

Building muscle boosts your resting metabolic rate, meaning you burn more calories even when you’re not working out. While the difference isn’t huge—gaining a pound of muscle only burns a few extra calories per day—it still helps. So, while it’s not a game-changer, every bit helps!

Burn Fat Fast: Power of Combining Cardio and Strength Training
Burn Fat Fast: Power of Combining Cardio and Strength Training

Weight training is really important if you’re trying to keep your muscle, especially when you’re on a diet. Cutting calories can help you lose weight, but it can also lead to muscle loss. The goal is to lose fat while keeping your muscle.

Besides helping you maintain muscle as you lose weight, weight training has other great benefits too. It boosts bone density and improves your overall quality of life as you get older.

What Is Cardio Training?

Cardio exercises are activities that get your heart pumping and keep it going throughout your workout. This type of exercise is also called cardiovascular training.

During cardio, your body uses oxygen to turn glucose into energy, which is why it’s also known as aerobic activity. The word “aerobic” means “with oxygen.” As you do cardio, your body needs more oxygen, so you’ll notice your breathing becomes deeper.

There are three levels of intensity in aerobic activity: low, moderate, and high. Cardio exercises come in various forms.

When you do activities like cycling, jogging, using an elliptical, or taking an aerobic class and keep a steady heart rate, it’s called steady-state cardio. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says this moderate intensity is typically between 64% and 76% of your maximum heart rate.

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is different. It mixes short, intense bursts of aerobic exercise with short rest periods. HIIT workouts are usually shorter than steady-state cardio because they require you to work very hard, between 77% and 93% of your maximum heart rate.

Benefits for Weight Loss

Research shows that aerobic exercise can reduce body fat better than weight training in many cases. Generally, cardio is more effective for this purpose.

The main advantage of moderate-intensity steady-state cardio is that it lasts longer than weight lifting, which has more stops and starts. Because cardio keeps you moving constantly, it burns more energy during the workout.

Moderate-intensity exercises like brisk walking are also great for improving health without a high risk of injury. These exercises are easier for many people to do compared to heavy weight lifting, which requires equipment and knowledge, or intense aerobic workouts, which can be hard to sustain.

While both high-intensity and moderate-intensity cardio are good for weight loss, experts often say that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is better for burning fat because it’s more efficient and shorter. If you’re short on time, HIIT helps you burn more calories quickly.

Another plus of HIIT is that you can combine strength and cardio training in one session. For example, you could switch between burpees and jumping jacks. Both get your heart rate up, but burpees also use your body weight for resistance training.

Finally, HIIT workouts can lead to extra post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). After intense exercise, your body needs more oxygen, even after you’ve finished working out. This increased oxygen use, known as the “afterburn,” can boost calorie burning for up to 14 hours after your workout.

Also Read: Benefits of Compound Exercises for Muscle Growth

Cardio vs. Strength Training

To reduce body fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume. You can do this by adding both cardio and weight training to your routine. This can be steady-state cardio or high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Strength training and HIIT can also boost your calorie burn. Try arranging your weight training into a circuit-style workout to keep your heart rate up. This helps you burn more calories even after your workout is over, thanks to the extra oxygen your body uses, known as EPOC.

Burn Fat Fast: Power of Combining Cardio and Strength Training
Burn Fat Fast: Power of Combining Cardio and Strength Training

If you want to lose weight, should you choose between strength and cardio training? It might be best to do both.

Some people like to alternate, doing weight training on some days and cardio on others. For example, you could lift weights on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and do cardio on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Others prefer to combine the two in one session. If you’re short on time, try three high-intensity, 25-minute workouts each week that mix cardio and strength training. You can also add a weighted vest to boost your calorie burn and build lean muscle.

By including both cardio and strength training in your routine, you can meet the current physical activity guidelines for Americans, gain muscle, and improve your cardiovascular fitness.

How to Get the Best Results

Here are five tips to help you build a strength and cardio routine for weight loss:

  1. Mix Strength and Cardio: Combine strength training with continuous movement in a circuit training program. Work at a high effort as you move through different exercises without much rest.
  2. Take Time to Rest: Rest and recovery are crucial. After intense workouts, take a day off for complete rest or do some light activity. This helps your muscles repair and grow stronger. Rest days also give your body and mind a break.
  3. Enjoy Your Exercise: Find exercises you enjoy. If you like what you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick with it. Try different activities if you’re not naturally drawn to fitness. You might enjoy a playground bootcamp, indoor cycling, barre classes, or at-home workouts with a friend.
  4. Fuel Your Body: Your diet plays a big role in weight loss. Make sure you’re eating enough calories, protein, carbs, and healthy fats. A licensed dietitian can help you create a personalized plan.
  5. Challenge Your Muscles: Make your weight training challenging. High repetitions with low weights improve endurance, while low repetitions with heavy weights build strength. Both are valuable. Find a balance that allows you to work hard with minimal rest.

By following these tips, you can create a balanced and effective workout routine that helps you lose weight and stay healthy.

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