Cardio vs Strength Training: Which burns more fat?
I'll be the first to tell you I love strength training, I love feeling strong and I love the look of sleek muscles. Strength training is important, it builds muscles which prevent injury and keep our bodies healthy. The problem is, strength training has been vastly oversold as a metabolism-boosting calorie burner. It's time for a reality check.
Our metabolism is the key to burning fat. To lose weight we need to increase our total calorie burn. To increase our total calorie burn we need to increase one (or more) of the following:
Your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, which is essentially the calories you burn at rest. Your BMR is important because it makes up a large percentage of total calorie burn, but unfortunately you can't do much to increase (or decrease) it. Your BMR is mostly determined by your genetic makeup and body weight. The only way to really boost your BMR is to gain a large amount of weight (quite counter productive for our reasons).
Your physical-activity energy expenditure, which is all the activity you do in a day. This not only includes all of your workouts, but also walking your dog, doing the dishes, climbing the stairs, even brushing your teeth- any time your body is active it is adding to your physical-activity energy expenditure. Your physical-activity energy expenditure is the most important part of your total calorie burn because it is the part you can do the most about, all you have to do to increase it is to get up and move!
Your thermic effect of feeding, which is the energy your body expends while digesting food. Your thermis effect of feeding is generally about 10 percent of your daily calorie burn. However this number can be increased by eating small meals several times a day rather than just a few large meals. Stimulating foods such as green tea and chili peppers can also speed your thermic effect of feeding.
Your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, which is the extra calories you burn after exercise. Your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption is also known as the "afterburn". The amount of calories you burn post-workout will depend on the type of your workout, if you heart rate is increased during your workout and stay increased your will burn more.
Why Strength Training doesn't burn
The theory behind strength training burning more than cardio comes from the idea that one pound of muscle uses more calories per day than one pound fat does, while this is true, it is not enough to trim you down. Take a look at the numbers:
- 182 calories are burned per day for each pound of kidney your body houses.
- 110 calories are burned per day for each pound of brain that your body houses.
- 6 calories are burned per day for each pound of muscle that your body houses.
- 2 calories are burned per day for each pound of fat that your body houses.
During strength training you burn less calories, and the additional calories you burn due to the gain in muscle in your body is barely enough to make a difference, your time would be much better spend doing cardio where you would burn more calories during the workout (and less after).
Why Cardio does burn
If you're interested in boosting your metabolism to lose weight, aerobic training such as running and walking is a better investment than strength training. All you need to do is look at the numbers to see why:
40 minutes of moderate cardio (running 8:30 pace) vs. 40 minutes of moderate strength training-
Cardio: 522 calories burned during the activity, 30 calories burned in afterburn, 0 calories burned from gained muscle
Strength Training: approximately 136 calories burned during the activity, 20 calories burned in afterburn, 30 calories burned from gained muscleCardio leads by 366 calories.
So there it is, if you want to burn more fat do more cardio, the numbers are simple. However, I won't necessarily replace all strength training with cardio, it is good to have a mix of both-this way you will burn fat and build muscle which will keep you strong and healthy and prevent against injury, not to mention provide you with sleek and sexy muscles. It is also important to keep diet in mind, exercise alone won't do it (and neither will diet alone). You need to focus on creating a diet and exercise plan and sticking to it!