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If fat loss is in your mind, then in the gym, which way do you go? Towards the weight training area or the treadmill? This has been a long and everlasting debate between gym enthusiasts. Cardio enthusiasts will tell you that you can burn more fat directly by increasing your heart rate. And weightlifters and strength training enthusiasts will tell you that the best way to burn extra calories is by building lean muscle mass and burning calories through the day.

Cardio vs Weight

So, which one is best? What should you follow? This article will answer these questions backed by science to help you decide for yourself.

Cardio Burns More Calories During a Session

Many experts have conducted studies to determine how many calories people burn while participating in a variety of activities. Based on this research, you can estimate how many calories you will burn during different types of exercises, including cardio and weight training, depending on your body weight.

For the majority of activities, the more your weight, the greater the number of calories you will burn. For example, an average person who weighs 70 kg will burn around 240 calories per 30 minutes of moderate-intensity jogging. However, increasing the pace to 10-12 km/hr would result in burning around 350 calories in 30 minutes.

When compared to this, if that same person does weight training for the same period, he would only burn approximately 125–200 calories depending on the intensity.

Therefore, it is safe to say that for nearly the same amount of work, you'll burn more calories through each session of cardio than you will during a weight-training session.

Weight Training Burns More Calories Through the Day

Even though a weight-training workout does not normally burn as many calories as a cardio workout session, it has several other major advantages. Weight training, for example, is more effective than cardio in terms of muscle building, and muscle burns more calories at rest than other tissues.

This means raising your resting metabolism — that is, the number of calories you burn while at rest — can be accomplished by improving your muscle mass. During 24 weeks of weight training, one study assessed the resting metabolic rates of the subjects. Weight training resulted in a 9% rise in the resting metabolic rate of the participating men which resulted in burning extra calories, around 140 calories per day.

Although weight training might not result in dramatically burning more calories through the day, these small numbers when added up in the long term can positively affect your fat loss journey. Weight training also has several other major calorie-burning advantages. Studies have shown that when you lift weights, you burn more calories in the hours after your workout. This indicates that the resting metabolism remains elevated for up to 38 hours following weight training, although no such rise has been recorded following cardio workouts. In other words, the calorie-burning benefits of lifting weights aren't restricted to when you're actively exercising. You may continue to burn calories for several hours or even days afterwards.

Which is Better for Fat Loss?

question mark stationary exercise bike gym machine dumbbell

You must have understood that you will burn more calories when your heart rate is elevated during a cardio session, whereas you will burn more calories through the day if you have more lean muscle mass. Therefore, it is safe to say that there is no single exercise to burn fat effectively. The best exercise or workout for fat loss is the one where you can stay more consistent with. Goes to say, don’t force yourself to go for a jog every day if you detest running or spend the majority of your time doing squats and deadlifts if you cannot cope with it.

The Bottom Line

You should never try to design your workout plan to accomplish your weight goals. Instead, have an approach to better your overall health by improving your body composition and your cardiovascular health.

Cardio and HIIT workouts can help you improve your cardiovascular health. There is more information on HIIT in our earlier article, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). How Does It Work? What Are the Benefits?

Weight training can help you gain lean muscle mass. Along with fat loss, if your goal is more refined and you want that lean muscle mass, then go through this article in case you have not already, The Ultimate Guide to Lean Mode. There is also another form, called Otter Mode that may interest you. Read all about otter mode in the article titled, What is OtterMode Physique & How To Get It? The Ultimate Guide.

In effect, a combination of cardio and weight training in your workout routine will significantly better your health and help you accomplish all your physique goals.


Schuenke, M., Mikat, R., & McBride, J. (2002). Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 86(5), 411–417.

Bryner, R. W., Ullrich, I. H., Sauers, J., Donley, D., Hornsby, G., Kolar, M., & Yeater, R. (1999). Effects of Resistance vs. Aerobic Training Combined With an 800 Calorie Liquid Diet on Lean Body Mass and Resting Metabolic Rate. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 18(2), 115–121.

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