Settling the debate: weight training or cardio?

weightsSUMMER. The time of year that everyone wants to get their beach body ready to be shown off in the sun… cue the endless streams of joggers and treadmill demons.

Whilst running and other forms of cardio do indeed burn calories and therefore eliminate fat – it’s extremely difficult to shed a decent amount of fat through cardio alone. In many ways, weight training (for males and females) is an easier and more effective way of burning that unwanted fat. The first, and most key point that I’m going to introduce to you is that weight training burns calories before and after a session; whilst cardio exercises only burn fat for the total duration of the exercise.

Now it’s important to note at this point that recently people have begun to doubt this approach, but it’s no secret that there’s millions of people that support the same views as myself. The reason for weight training being more effective is that a high muscle mass burns fat during every day activities simply due to the basic amount of energy that it takes to use the muscles. This is also true for periods of rest.

In addition to this, there’s what is known as the ‘afterburn’ effect. This is a direct product of an extremely high intensity workout. The only problem with the afterburn is that it is extremely hard to achieve – it refers to a state where after any workout, your body’s metabolism increases. To get to this state however, you have to achieve a ridiculously high intensity throughout your entire workout; which is no problem to those who rep to failure and give 110% as standard. To keep that kind of intensity up is difficult, but clearly, thoroughly rewarding. Please don’t mistake this post for me telling people to get into the gym and start becoming bodybuilders; you don’t have to lift heavy weights to weight train.

In my opinion, weight training is the main way to go when trying to achieve either fat loss or muscle gain. However, I’m not condemning cardio as a form of exercise. Obviously those who are engaged in any form of sport (myself included) will need to keep up some form of cardio routine to keep their fitness and stamina up.

My own personal approach is to combine 2-3 sessions of cardio (boxing/hockey) in a week with pure weight training and a small amount of cardio through weights (my warm up). Personally I’ve found this approach to be very effective, though I will be increasing my cardio in order to gain a higher level of fitness for boxing.

In other words, I fit every approach into my training; my boxing drills even contain a hell of a biometric workout although there’s more of an emphasis on weight training over cardio. I’m not saying to forget about the cardio completely; what I am saying is that maybe it’s time to up that weight training and start experimenting with cardio through weights. If anyone wants to try a cardio with weights program, there’s one named ‘Killer Workout’. However, if I get enough interest in it I’d be more than happy to adapt it into an entry level workout to work your way up to the intense one.

Obviously if you’re just looking to build muscle and not keep a decent level of cardiovascular fitness then heavy weight training is the way forward, however mixing in some cardio with weights, even if it’s just for a warm up (a prime example of this is Terry Crews’ ’24s’ warm up) can be highly beneficial with regard to getting yourself pumped for a workout and hitting your entire body to get it ready for some intense weight training.