, ,

Best training approach for fat loss. Battle between galaxies.

 Cardio vs Weight training for fat loss.

Fat loss is the first thing that people associate with fitness training. And usually, that’s the goal they have in mind when they join a gym. But what is the most optimal and fastest way to lose weight? Is it the treadmill, the elliptical machine or deadlifting 400 pounds? There is a battle between two realms in the fitness galaxy which fight for the title, king of fat loss.

The troops of cardio junkies which can usually be found jogging on a treadmill. How to spot one? Their gym attire usually consists of a pair of Nike, sweat band around their heads and running thighs. The dark side is presented by the troops of meatheads, not hard to be spotted, they are grunting all over the place, throwing heavy plates around with lifting straps around their wrists. In this article, I will go over what are the pros and cons of the two contending categories and I will let you draw a conclusion and decide whether you should stay on the side of alliance (cardio)  or join “the dark force” (weight lifting).

Before we get started I will explain what each training style means for all of you who are just getting started.

Cardio: Anything that you perform for prolonged periods of time with the goal in mind to reach elevated heart rate in order to trigger the usage of fatty acids for energy which directly results in fat loss. Jogging on a treadmill, playing basketball, swimming or walking in the park. All of these are different variations of cardio.

Weight training: This is pretty much self-explanatory. Anything that you perform under the resistance of weight would be considered weight training. It is usually performed in a cyclical fashion with rest in between the different exercises because it’s more challenging for your CNS (Central Nervous System) and takes more time for you to recover. Anybody weight exercise or anything that involves barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells is weight training.

There are countless studies out there, researches done in various of universities and medical clinics comparing both of the training styles. But the question still remains which one is superior and why? I’ve spent quite a bit of time going over plenty of articles on the topic and I will share with you what I’ve learned. I will try to keep it as entertaining and easy to read as possible but if you are into facts and studies here’s an awesome article with a lot of resources to back it up. But before we get started I want to remind you what is number one thing you should consider in order to begin a fat loss process.

You should adjust your diet first! Period.

Your success is dependent on your diet. Even if you kick your ass in the gym for 10 hours each week there are still another 168 hours where you could easily catch up and put all your efforts in a trash can if you don’t pay attention to your nutrition.

Here’s link to my FREE report that teaches you how to eat according to your nutrition needs. Click here.

Alright, now that I’ve repeated myself for the 100th time and bored you with all the nutrition and diet nagging let’s get to the meat and potatoes.




Cardio is the easiest thing you can do to start your fat loss journey. You don’t need any fancy equipment, exact location or any specific knowledge in order to get started. Just a little motivation and a pair of sneakers will get you going. You can never go wrong with a jog in the park, it’s hard to mess up there and it requires no mental effort whatsoever. And let’s face the facts, in order to achieve fat loss, you have to be in a caloric deficit. And what does cardio help you do? It helps you burn a lot of calories, clear your mind and keep your heart healthy. Why wouldn’t you love to do cardio you would ask?

Well, it can be really boring. Jogging on the treadmill for an hour like a hamster on its wheel staring in an LCD screen which shows you numbers that you have no clue about like METs, CBPM. Secondly, in terms of getting in shape, it’s definitely not the most efficient form of exercise.

Why it’s not efficient when it comes to burning extra calories? It does not burn calories after the exercise activity is over. There is no Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption. It sounds complicated but it really isn’t. You simply burn calories while you are running for instance and not afterwards. There is an awesome article by Gretchen Reynolds in The New York Times going in depth on the subject.

What’s cool about cardio is that it is an instant mood booster. The learning process involved is minimal and you can start right away implementing it in your daily routine. It is also a low-impact way to burn calories, less stress on the joints and ligaments. And if you have the nerve you can burn calories like this guy.

Weight training

A little bit more complicated way to improve your body composition and get that lean body.

Why are some people sceptical about this aspect of the training? Associated with meatheads, steroids and massive bodybuilders the reputation of weight training is ruined. Women get terrified just from the idea of lifting weights because they confuse weight training with Olympic lifting and imagine getting huge which is not the case. Weight training is the fastest way to reshape and sculpt your body in a way that it screams “sexy”. It helps you maintain the better muscle-to-fat ratio, which helps you get your metabolism working faster. You will benefit from increased BMR which will allow you to burn more calories while you watch “Star Wars The Force Awakens”  for instance.

And this is the best part here. Alwyn Cosgrove a well-known fitness expert posted an awesome article in 2010 in which he goes to a study that highlights the benefits of weight training over cardio.

Overweight subjects were assigned to three groups: diet only, diet plus aerobics, diet plus aerobics plus weights. The diet group lost 14.6 pounds of fat in 12 weeks. The aerobic group lost only one more pound (15.6 pounds) than the diet group (training was three times a week starting at 30 minutes and progressing to 50 minutes over the 12 weeks).

The weight training group lost 21.1 pounds of fat (44% and 35% more than diet and aerobic only groups respectively). Basically, the addition of aerobic training didn’t result in any real world significant fat loss over dieting alone.

Thirty-six sessions of up to 50 minutes is a lot of work for one additional pound of fat loss. However, the addition of resistance training greatly accelerated fat loss results.

And it’s not only that.

There’s another study by West Virginia University which used female subject to asses LBM(Lean Body Mass) and RMR(Resting Metabolic Rate). They were put on an 800 calorie liquid diet for 12 weeks(Don’t even think about putting yourself through that).

The study conducted that the resistance training group didn’t lose any LBM while the group that participated in aerobic training lost 4kg of lean mass.

On the other hand, the resistance training group lost significantly more body fat(approximately 2kg) and their RMR increased by 4% while their counterparts experienced 13.4% drop in RMR.

Endurance capacity with the weight training group also increased.

What’s not to love about that. Science backs it up so we can’t argue with the benefits.

So to summarize is it. Is there a right or wrong way to approach fat loss?

Nope, all types of training, whether it’s cardio or lifting weights, have a place in a fat loss program. If the only variable you take into account is time, sure weight training is the way to go. You burn more calories and build lean muscle, but other factors come into play here. Due to the stressful nature of weight training, you can really do these activities for no more than hour, hour and a half before your body is drained, and you would need 24 to 48 hours to recover from the workout for the particular muscle group that you worked on. Cardio, on the other hand, doesn’t have that stressful impact so you can go for hours and hours, day after day. So blending between the two training styles is ideal to achieve the best results.

I can’t recommend what you should certainly do. It all depends on your fitness level, how much time you can devote to exercise daily, and what are your preferences. Let me get back to the annoying nutrition part. If the training is the king of fat loss, nutrition is the queen. And king without a queen is doomed to a disaster and will have his crown taken. ( I don’t know how I came up with that, bro science here). Anyway, you get the point.

So I will outline down below what each training style has to offer.

Do cardio if:

  • You enjoy running and love it from the bottom of your heart
  • You have plenty of time
  • You don’t know any better and don’t want to bother with complicated programs

Do weight lifting if:

  • You want to build muscle and burn fat at the same time
  • You like burning calories while reading my articles
  • You’re not afraid to lift some heavy weights

It’s all up to you. After all, you want to be happy and healthy which means that you should find the combination that works for you and your unique persona. Combining both of the styles will keep the weight off consistently but being blessed with the opportunity to work out 5-6 times a week is really rare nowadays. Don’t waste your time doing things that don’t bring you results or joy!

And to finish strong, I will quote Frederick Hatfield

 “Fat loss comes from strength training and dieting.  If you’re depending on long, slow cardio or even interval training for fat loss, your body is telling you that your diet is not in check.  

 The age-old truth is still the same truth today: Strength training and diet are the keys to fat loss.”


There is no right or wrong way to approach fat loss. As long as you take continues actions that support your goal, in a case of fat loss, being in a caloric deficit, you will get the results.

The science studies above showed that strength training is superior to aerobic training for losing weight and maintaining muscle mass but that doesn’t mean a thing if you are not a fan of lifting weights.

Stick to what works for you and makes you happy!

Comment down below if you are with the cardio junkie troops or the meatheads. Let me know what you enjoy the most guys.

Simeon Krastev About Simeon Krastev

Simeon is a fitness coach with a unique perspective on training and nutrition. For the past six years, he’s been helping busy people achieve an impactful fit look without putting their life on hold. Stay in touch by connecting with him on LinkedIn.


Get my best work for free

Allow me to send you my top content directly in your inbox

I respect your privacy. Your information stays with me.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *