Woman preparing to do weighted squat on weights rack at Kinetik Fitness, Nottingham

Cardio or Weights… Which Is Best For Weight Loss?

17 August 2015

A question I get asked a lot by my clients; which is better for weight loss, cardio vascular exercise or resistance exercise?

Firstly lets look at each area in turn and discover which is the most effective and which will work best for you as
an individual.

Cardio Exercise for weight/fat loss

This is probably the form of exercise you do the most and cardio vascular exercise can be very beneficial in terms of weight loss and overall well being. It can help to boost your metabolism, improve fitness, decrease body fat and cholesterol levels. However the average person’s cardio routine is ineffective and boring. Let’s look at ways that you can get the most out of cardio exercise.

Firstly Cardio exercise is all about working to the right intensity, if you just plod along on the cross trainer for 20 mins at level 2 and expect to loose weight it’s not going to work! You need to get your heart rate high enough to boost your metabolic rate and burn fat. The best way to measure intensity is using a heart rate monitor, these range in price from £25 for the most basic, to £250 for a top of the range monitor. If you don’t have a heart rate monitor don’t panic, use the Rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale. 1 is no effort at all and 10 is max effort. You want to be pushing yourself to a 7,8 and 9 out of 10 to get the most out of your cardio workouts. The best way you can work to this level is by performing interval training, this will make your workouts time effective and send your metabolic rate through the roof! I believe it’s best to do timed intervals of work to rest. The time you work for depends on the intensity you want to work at, for example

If you wanted to work at a 7 out of 10 you may do an equal amount of work to rest 3 mins working at 7 out of 10, 3 mins recovering at a 3/4 out of 10 and repeat 3 to 4 times. If you were to work harder you could do 1 min at 9 out of 10 with 2 mins rest. The harder you work the less time you do it for and the longer rest you give yourself. Sounds good to me! The key thing is pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Also mix it up! You don’t have to just run, cycle and row. Try things like boxing, skipping, burpees and squat thrusts to add variation.

Resistance Exercise for weight/fat loss

Women always say to me if I do weights won’t I get muscular and look like a body builder? The answer to this is… NO! The majority of women don’t have sufficient testosterone and human growth hormone in their bodies to become extremely muscular. Resistance exercise will help you to change shape, define muscles, reduce body fat percentage, drop dress sizes as well as improving joint stability and bone density. Let’s look at the ways you can get the most out of resistance exercise.

The best thing to do with resistance exercise is to build a base, we call this conditioning. A conditioning programme should work the whole body, keep the heart rate up and be challenging. A typical conditioning programme would be 6 exercises, 2 sets of 15 reps with 30 seconds rest. If you are doing 15 reps the weight should be heavy enough so that when you reach rep 13,14 and 15 you are struggling. Once you’ve built a base of condition over a 4-6 week period, you can start to increase the weight, drop the number of reps down and increase the number of sets. This will help to define or tone your muscles and change your shape. As long as the exercises are challenging and varied you will keep getting results.

So which is the best form of training?

The answer in my opinion is both! They are equally as good as one another but both have different benefits, the two, combined with a healthy diet can massively aid weight loss. If you do a routine of 4 sessions a week, 2 resistance and 2 cardio you will see fantastic results. You could even do both in the same session, a weights workout then 20 mins of interval training.

I hope this has given you an insight into the benefits and which forms of training can aid weight loss! If you enjoy cardio throw in some resistance if you enjoy weights throw in some cardio. If you don’t like either you need to come and see me!

Happy Training!

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