Weightlifting Or Cardio For Fat Loss?

Recently I got a query from one of my clients regarding advice on whether cardio should be done before or after a weight training session. This is not his query actually. Maybe he has seen too much information regarding cardio that he was a bit confused when to do it and how to do it for maximum fat loss. There are also questions like: 

  1. Hey! Is cardio necessary for fat loss?
  2. Does Cardio make my gains go away?
  3. As I am lifting weights, is it necessary to even do cardio as it will make it hard to gain muscle?

Well if they knew why a bodybuilder adds cardio in his/her routine, maybe they shouldn’t be asking it. None of the above questions are worth asking if you know the meaning of ” Cardio “. 

Cardio or Cardio exercise as the name suggests is any exercise that raises heartbeat.  The cardio exercise engages the rapid pumping of blood and makes your heart stronger. As the heart is also a muscle, engaging in some rapid pumping makes the capillaries work more for delivering oxygen to muscle cells resulting in more fat loss while doing exercise or inactivity.  

Weightlifting increases cardiac activity and that’s why you see a good pump, this is all because the heart is circulating more blood to the muscles as a result muscle cells swell up. Now you may ask if you are already burning calories while lifting weights then why to do cardio. The answer is simply the more cardiac activity, the more fat loss.  Any type of cardio indulges in a higher rate of fat loss.

Which is better for fat loss: weightlifting or cardio?

Well, this is one unsorted question that you hear from most people. Some will say only cardio while others will say weightlifting.

Research done by Department of Physiotherapy and Sports Science of Punjab University, Patiala by taking 120 females ranging from age 20-40 proved that Weightlifting and Cardio both increase fat loss, the only difference was weightlifting preserved lean muscle mass while cardio induced more on weight loss which included both preserved muscle and fat. 

Still Confused!

Here’s my opinion, if your main aim is for cardiovascular health, then with a normal intensity of cardio you can lose some weight obviously. But if your aim is more on preserving muscle mass and removing that stubborn fat, then weightlifting with the addition of cardio for 2-3 days/week is for you. 

The benefits of having cardio in your routine :

  1. Cardio aids in releasing lactic acid that is produced after a weightlifting session
  2. Cardio aims to lower blood pressure levels. 
  3. Cardio helps in developing a good posture.
  4. Cardio along with weightlifting helps in an increase in lean muscle mass and eliminating visceral body fat.
  5. Cardio increases lung capacity. 
  6. Like all other exercises, cardio helps in stress management.
  7. It helps in a better sex life. 

Takeaway Message

No matter what your goals are whether you want to build muscle or lose fat,  cardio can be used as a tool to increase the muscle building or fat burning capacity of your body. Try to incorporate 2-3 days/ week of a good cardio session.  This will not only give you a healthy heart but also provide enough oxygen and flush away toxins that are produced inside the body. After all, a healthy lifestyle is what we all want.