Losing weight can be hard enough without confusion. What should you eat, what should you not eat, at what times should you eat, how many meals per day should you eat, can you eat this, can you eat that, and then you need to come up with some sort of exercise routine to throw more confusion into the mix.
The two most popular forms of exercise are cardio and resistance training (lifting weights), but which one should you do and which one is better for losing weight?
Both forms of exercise play an important role in your overall weight loss strategy, so neither should be completely ignored.
In this article, we are going to talk about which form of exercise burns more calories as well as give you a plan to effectively lose weight.
Cardio and Weight Loss
Cardio workouts, whether you walk around the neighborhood, run on your treadmill, hike your favorite trails, or do sprints at your local track, burn more calories per workout than lifting weights.
When it comes to cardio, you can get an estimate of how many calories you will burn per session, and in general, the more you weigh, the more you will burn per session.
To give you an idea…
If you weigh 150lbs and jog at a moderate pace, then you can expect to burn roughly 230 calories every 30 minutes.
If you decide to pick the speed up a little bit and run at a pace of 7mph, then you will burn roughly 380-390 calories per 30 minutes.
On the other hand if you were moderately lifting weights, you would only burn roughly 120 calories per 30 minutes.
If you were vigorously lifting weights, you would burn around 200-210 calories every 30 minutes.
There are two great ways to increase the amount of calories you burn while doing cardio without increasing the amount of time you workout.
The first way is to add hills (or an incline if you do cardio on your home treadmill) into your routine. Depending on the grade of the hill or incline, you can increase your calorie burn by 50%-100%+.
So looking back at the example above, you could burn 345-460 calories every 30 minutes while moderately jogging, just by adding hills or an incline to your jogging routine.
The second way you can increase you calorie burn while doing cardio is to pick up the pace or add bursts of high intensity interval training or HIIT to your workouts. For example, if you like to jog, throw some sprints into your routine. Sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then take a 30 second rest period and repeat. Studies have shown that HIIT allows you to burn up to 30% more calories per workout.
This will not only increase your calorie burn during your session, it will also boost your metabolism for up to 48 hours after you have completed your workout.
If you REALLY want to maximize your calorie burn, then combine both of these. Add hills or an incline and HIIT to your sessions, and you will be burning a lot more calories per workout than you usually do.
This is great for those who have a hectic schedule and can barely squeeze in time to workout. It allows you to dramatically increase your calorie burn without extending the amount of time you workout.
Doing this not only burns more calories, but it also has many other benefits to your body and overall health, but that is for another article.
Lifting Weights and Weight Loss
While lifting weights does not burn as many calories per or during each session when compared to cardio, it does play an important role in losing weight.
Lifting weights allows you to burn more calories every day all day long. This is because lifting weights builds muscle and muscle burns more calories while you are resting than fat does. So, while weight lifting does not burn more calories per session, it does let you burn more calories throughout the day.
Lifting weights is one of the best ways to increase your resting metabolism. By doing this you will burn more calories while you sleep and throughout the day.
In addition to burning more calories while resting, studies have shows that when you lift weights, you burn more calories during the next few hours after your workout is complete when compared to cardio workouts.
Some research has shown that lifting weights has the ability to elevate your metabolism for 30+ hours after working out. This does not happen with cardio workouts. This means that the calories burning benefits of weight lifting allow you to burn calories for hours or days after working out.
As with cardio, you can increase the amount of calories you burn while weight lifting as well. This can be accomplished by simply increasing the intensity of your workout.
High intensity interval training (HIIT) can also be introduced to your weight lifting workouts. To do this, you just need to pick up the intensity, give 100% during each set, and reduce the rest period between each set. That is how you do HIIT weight lifting. If you usually take 30 seconds between each set, lower this down to 20 seconds at first and then down to 10 seconds once you get comfortable.
A Plan to Maximize Your Weight Loss Efforts
The key to a solid weight loss plan are 3 things. The first key is a good cardio routine. The second key is a good resistance training routine. The third key is a healthy diet.
So if you workout 5 days a week, you can either alternate days between cardio and resistance training, or you can do a little of both each day.
It is also a good idea to mix it up as often as possible. Keep your body guessing each and every day. If you do the same exact exercises everyday, your body can become accustom to those exercises, making them less and less effective.
Often times when this happens you will hit a plateau as well.
In addition to doing both cardio and resistance training, be sure to mix in some HIIT into each of these. As we mentioned above, also be sure to add hills or an incline to your cardio workouts. Doing both of these will not only increase the amount of calories you burn per workout, they will also in able you to cut down on the amount of time you workout if time is tight.
And of course alongside your workouts, you need to be eating a healthy diet. This does not mean you need to starve yourself. It just means you need to choose healthier options, less processed foods, and practice portion control.
This will take a little bit of work, but once you find out what balance of these 3 things works for you, you will then begin to lose weight at a faster pace, and you will be losing it the healthy and correct way.