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Weights or Cardio?

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When it comes to health and fitness, people want to know, Weight training or Cardio?  If you have tried losing weight and have asked that question, then you have probably gotten one of three answers.  One person might suggest that Cardio is best while another may suggest Weight training.  Finally, another will probably suggest a combination of both.  Each have their benefits but is there one that is better than the other?  Cardio or Weight Training? Or Both?

While completing several rounds of P90X, I learned the benefit of both weight training and cardio.  I wouldn’t consider ever dropping one completely.  But I do believe that in order to become a more fit individual, you definitely need to include weight training into your exercise routine.  There are many known benefits of weight training and I believe that it has gotten a bad stigma from the bodybuilding community. Women typically shy away from weight training because they’re afraid that lifting weights would make them bulky and too muscular.  That isn’t the case.  The key is the amount of weight that you use along with number of reps you perform.  Using weight in the 5 to 15 lbs range with reps of 12+ will help sculpt the lean, fit look that many woman are looking for.

Which Burns More Calories?

The following is an interesting study that compared to the two. Here is what it said…

A strength training session in which you burn, say, 300 calories burns more calories than a cardio session where you burn 300 calories on the treadmill.  Impossible?  No it’s not.  At least, if you take into account the raised calorie burning after training.

Yes, we’re talking about elevated post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC: the phenomenon whereby your body burns more oxygen, and therefore also more calories, after a training session.  Sports scientists only started studying this effect in the nineties, but the results of their research indicate that, for people who want to control their weight, strength training is a good alternative to endurance and cardio training.

This is also known as the After Burn effect (CLICK HERE to read more about the After Burn Effect). A idea where your body continues to burn calories for up to 24 hours after your workout.  As a matter of fact, this effect has been shown to be seen in HIIT versions of cardio as well. TurboFire is a great example of the After Burn Effect and the entire workout is based on it.  Think about the ABE like this.  After you break down the muscle in your body, your body needs to repair itself.  In order to do this your body has to work extremely hard, thus causing your body to burn up even more calories and use them to repair muscle.

How Does This Work?

In 2005 researchers at Shippensburg University in the US published the results of a human study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. For this they had got eight women, average age 31, to undergo two training sessions. On one occasion the women did weight training [CT]. They did three sets of leg-presses, knee-extensions, leg-curls, biceps-curls, triceps-extensions and bench presses with 65 percent of the weight at which they could just manage one rep. Between each set the women rested for 30 seconds, and after each exercise for two minutes.

On the other occasion the women ran on a treadmill. The researchers increased the intensity slightly every three minutes until the women were running at 85 percent of their maximal heart rate [TM]. The women stopped running when they had burned as many calories as they had done during the strength training session.

During the first hour after each training session the researchers measured how much oxygen [and therefore calories] the women burned. In the first hour after both training sessions the women’s oxygen expenditure was higher than before the training session. In the first half hour, oxygen expenditure was significantly higher after the CT training than after the TM training.

The respiratory exchange ration [RER], this is the ratio between inhaled and exhaled oxygen, is what is responsible. The lower the RER, the more calories you burn from fat and the fewer from carbs. So the women derived most of the energy for their EPOC after the strength training session from fat.

The researchers suspect that strength training uses relatively large amounts of energy that does not come directly from combustion processes, and which are therefore not visible if you just measure oxygen use during a training session. Restoration of the unnoticed energy reserves only shows up, in terms of oxygen expenditure, after the training session.

This shows that strength training does have an added benefit, and why most extremely fit people train with weights.  Of course it depends on what your goals are and what look you are going for. I do believe that everyone, even endurance athletes, could benefit from weight training.

A program like P90X takes this concept and adds muscle confusion so your workouts are constantly changing and your muscles continue to get stronger and see greater results. Weight training is an essential part of this.  The pace of P90X also makes this workout burn up to 600-800 calories.  It’s a fast paced workout that will give you all the benefits of weight training while raising your heart rate to cardio levels.  This is why it has worked for countless numbers of people, including myself!  (CLICK HERE to watch my P90X/Insanity transformation video.)

Should I Add Weight Training?

Definitely, yes you should.  We all know that cardio burns calories and is great for shedding body fat.  But weight training not only burns calories, but helps sculpt lean muscle in the process.  There is a reason why P90X2 doesn’t have a true cardio workout.  P90X2 is the cutting edge of fitness and Tony Horton has taken this concept and created an amazing program.  But even Tony Horton does cardio as well. On the flip side, Insanity’s Shaun T saw the benefits of weight training by adding in a Strength workout into Asylum. TurboFire has a resistance workout for this reason also.  You have to include a resistance workout into your fitness program to see the greatest results for your efforts.  So, don’t just choose sides.  Have both Weight training and Cardio in your fitness schedule.  You will see great results from the added benefits of both!

Source: Eur J Appl Physiol. 2005 Aug;94(5-6):500-4.


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