Ammo’s “one body, one mind” approach has made him a top fitness professional. His experience in nutrition, rehab, sports specific training, functional exercises and mixed martial arts self-defense has helped clients achieve all their fitness goals.

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More Ammo For Your Workout

by Ammo, Fitness Professional

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Weights vs. cardio - which works best for burning more fat and calories? Hmm... good question.

I'm exaggerating when I say that nations have gone to war about this issue, but I do it to emphasize its controversy. Let me just start out by saying that they both serve their purpose and have their exclusive benefits.

Strength-training vs cardioThe real question is, "What are your goals?" Coming to terms with what you're trying to accomplish is really what determines which modality best serves you.

Ideally I would say training with weights and doing cardio is your best bet to achieve overall fitness. They namely target different systems. Cardiovascular exercise strengthens the lungs, vessels and heart, while weight training uses the stamina of cardiovascular exercise to build muscles that support skeleton and organs.

That being said, there are some things you should know.

After the age of 20, our bodies lose 1/3 to 1/2 pound of muscle tissue per year. Of course, this results in strength reduction, as we would expect. The slowing of our metabolic rate translates into weight gain.

So If I had to choose one of the two to counterbalance this effect, it would be strength training. (And I'm not just saying that because I'm a personal trainer!) Strength training is the best and surest way to increase your metabolism, burn fat and sustain long-term weight loss.

Without building muscle you will have a harder time burning body fat. Body fat is "burned" in the muscle. The cardio will burn calories for you directly, more per session than weight lifting because it is continuous work. The weights will cause your muscles to grow which will increase your metabolism - you will burn more calories during the day just to maintain the larger muscles. But weight! I mean wait!

I can see some women turning their nose up at the sound of larger muscles. I can assure you this doesn't mean you'll look like an NFL linebacker. Building muscle is relative to how you're training: higher reps with lighter weights and minimal rest for toning, or lower reps with heavier weights and longer rest for bulking up.

Know this: Each pound of lean body mass, which includes skeletal muscle, burns about 7-15 calories a day at rest. There's a myth out there that says it burns 35-50 calories.

So if you're running like a lab rat to lose weight, you'll get there quicker and more efficiently if you add some strength training exercises. I would say for the average person, strength training 2-3 three times a week and doing cardio 3-5 times a week is ideal. If you're doing them on the same day and session, I would suggest doing the weight training first, being that if you fatigue yourself after cardio, chances are you're not going to push yourself for strength training.

Keep in mind that you can burn as many calories as you like with exercise, but if you eat them back, you won't lose weight.

NOTES: Some exercises are generally for the physically fit and active. If you suffer from joint pain, or have cardiac-related problems, please consult a physician before starting a routine. Otherwise, seek an experienced personal trainer for proper techniques.

For more information, check out www.ammoathletics.com.

@ 6:05pm ET on November 16, 2008
Thanks - this is a very balanced approach and with reasons behind it! I appreciate it!! Patty

@ 12:38pm ET on November 17, 2008
I go to the gym 2-3 times a week. I do 15 minutes of mat work, then 20 minutes of weights and then 30 - 45 minutes of cardio. I usually do 2 10-reps of 40 lb for my arms and 2 10-reps of 60lb for my legs, is this building bulk or lean muscle?

@ 1:00pm ET on November 17, 2008
Thanks Patty! I hope things work out for you!

@ 1:09pm ET on November 17, 2008
8-12 reps doing most exercises is usually good for building lean muscles.However, the weight you choose should bring you to fatigue at the desired rep range.If you can do a whole lot more,the weight is too light.If you can't reach your desired number,its too heavy.Hope that answers your question. Enjoy!

@ 5:48pm ET on November 17, 2008
i find this help full and will try this

@ 1:06am ET on November 18, 2008
Thanks, I'll try additional reps at a lower weight. I can usually make 2 10-12 reps, but 3 is pushing it. I'll lighten the weight and increas the number of reps and see if that helps with results.

@ 3:45pm ET on November 18, 2008
I think both are really important! I know a lot of women skip strength training, but it really helps tone you up! ~Sara :o)

@ 11:05pm ET on January 4, 2009
I also find this very helpful. I used to skip the strength training part. My health teacher said it was a very important part of my deit, his way was to hard.I like your approach better. Thanks

@ 5:20am ET on January 5, 2009
Thank you Stephanie, enjoy!

@ 2:15pm ET on January 11, 2009
Ive always heard about combining the two, but now Ive read it. Thanks! I do cardio 2 times a week and strength 2 times a week. The last day a do a boot camp workout that really kicks my butt.

@ 3:49pm ET on February 16, 2009
I do 2 days of Body Sculpting with some cardio and step. Then 3 days of boot camp, which has step and weights. I have done the same workouts for months and stay about 128 lbs. but my tummy is still loose and my butt needs to get tighter. Along with trying to change my diet, should I change up my exercise routine. Like maybe stick with what I do but every other week do a different workout. To add muscle confusion?

@ 4:22pm ET on February 16, 2009
Absolutely change your exercise routine! Your body is smart enough to get used to what you do consistently and eventually will plateau. Along with tweaking your diet, try an extra day of strength training, focusing on your trouble areas, and try interval training for the other two days in between. If you don't know what that is, read my "calorie burning exercise that beats cardio" article.

@ 11:55pm ET on February 23, 2009
Great article! Currently I'm doing mostly cardio. I'm trying to incorporate hand weights to give myself more of a challenge. I really hope to see some improvement in my weight-loss after I implement more weights. I am glad I found this article.


@ 10:14pm ET on September 24, 2009
What is the best way to get that flat stomach? I know sit up's, but how can get it flat. I want like T.O. or 50cent. My build is more like 50 with out stomach. what can i do. I have a nice diet.

@ 1:11pm ET on September 13, 2010
Great info! If I'm already toned in some areas (abs, shoulders) do I need to work them or should I concentrate my efforts on my trouble areas (triceps & legs)? Will I get the same overall boost to my metabolism by working target areas?

@ 11:35am ET on September 14, 2010
The info is helpful, I will try this and keep you posted. Question, I currently do my cardio 5dys per wk in the evenings, I will do the weight training 3dys during the morning and continue my cardio as is, What are your thoughts?

@ 1:30pm ET on September 14, 2010
Great question K. Never leave out a body part because it's toned. You can always workout those parts in a way that will maintain it because if you dont use it, you'll lose it!
Tal I think you're dead on. If that amount of exercise works for you, then go for it. Just try your best to keep your training days at least 2 days apart. You don't want to overtrain your muscles!

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