Do I Burn More Calories Doing Cardio or Weightlifting?

It's one of the most common doubts we have when we want to burn calories effectively. We traditionally think that cardio exercises are the best for burning calories, but there are also those who believe that weightlifting helps you burn calories faster. Let's find out the truth.
Do I Burn More Calories Doing Cardio or Weightlifting?

Last update: 21 January, 2019

There are many theories that argue about the best exercise to burn calories and lose weight. But, some of them are contradictory! Even when we have recommendations at the gym, they can be quite confusing when it comes to which is the best physical activity to burn calories. Cardio or weightlifting?

Some people argue that cardiovascular exercises are the only ones that help while others insist that weightlifting and other anaerobic exercises are the best options. The truth is that the answer is not that simple. Before choosing the right activity, it’s necessary to consider several factors.

Cardio vs. weightlifting: what does each activity offer?

Cardio or aerobic exercises are both good options for burning calories. The most common ways to do cardio is by running or interval training. These types of activities burn fat precisely when they’re being performed.

When doing cardio with moderate intensity, and for long periods, a higher percentage of fat and less glycogen is consumed. The benefits for our bodies are evident.

However, this kind of constant training can hinder your goal. In fact, the better your physical condition, the more intense or longer your cardiovascular activity will have to be. This means that you can maintain burning the same number of calories as you did when you first started.

Lifting weights, on the other hand, constitutes an anaerobic exercise. When doing this type of activity, the body uses glycogen as an energy source. The reserves of this substance are found in the liver and muscles; it’s the first source of energy that’s available for the body, but it’s also consumed quickly.

Weight training helps maintain basal metabolism. This translates into burning more calories because when you increase your metabolism, you burn more fat. Exercising with weights helps burn calories during and after physical activity; its effect, therefore, lasts longer.

The benefits of doing cardio and weightlifting

Both activities are undoubtedly very beneficial for the body, and not just for burning calories. Cardiovascular exercise improves the overall health and functioning of our heart, circulation, blood and lung capacity, among other things. It also favors the production of endorphins, which helps to reduce stress.

Weightlifting helps you gain strength, endurance and muscle volume. However, practicing this type of activity doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll become a muscular person.

Other benefits of weightlifting include more protection for joints, better recovery from an injury and increased muscular strength. Exercising with weights also contributes to decreasing glucose levels in diabetics, and to reducing pain in people suffering from osteoarthritis.

Burn calories after exercising

Weightlifting causes the body to continue burning calories for several hours after training. This occurs because the body needs a large amount of oxygen to repair the muscles in the hours following the exercise.

On the other hand, the amount of muscle that the body has is an important factor in calculating caloric intake. The more muscle a person has, the more calories their body will consume, without having to do anything at all.

Combine the two types of activities

Although there is no definitive rule for determining whether doing cardio or weightlifting is better for burning calories, a combination of both activities is a good solution.

Everything depends on what each person is striving for, their preferences, the amount of time they have available, their physical condition, etc…

An excellent option is to start your routine weightlifting and end it with cardio workouts. This way you can use glucose as your primary source of energy and, once it is low, continue with the cardiovascular exercise.

A combination of activities complemented with a healthy diet is undoubtedly the best way to gain constant and long-lasting calorie burn.

In any case, whether you choose to do cardio, weightlifting or a combination of both, motivation will be the determining factor in guaranteeing success when it comes to burning calories.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.