December 17th, 2012
12:33 PM ET
Cardio burns more fat than weight lifting
If you want to burn fat and lose weight, aerobic exercise may be your best workout option, according to a study in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
It was more effective than a weight-lifting routine, and about as beneficial as workouts combining cardio and strength training, researchers found.
"If a person is going to give me three hours of exercise a week,the most effective way to lose fat is to spend that time doing aerobic training," says lead study author Leslie Willis, an exercise physiologist at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.
If you lift weights, this doesn't mean you should stop, but if your time is limited and your main goal from exercise is to lose weight, cardio may be better than weight training, according to Willis.
Because people often short-change exercise, the scientists wanted to find out what type of routine would provide overweight people the most efficient workout for weight loss. For eight months, more than 200 middle-aged adults were assigned to one of three exercise programs.
The first group did aerobic training for 133 minutes a week. This averaged out to three 45-minute sessions, with most people choosing to work out on treadmill or elliptical machines. Those in the second group spent the same amount of time getting fit, but lifted weights instead of doing cardio. The others did both types of exercise, which took twice as long. The adults in the study were all overweight or obese, about 50 years of age, and did not have diabetes.
The scientists found that routines that included only weight lifting built muscle, but did not help people lose fat or shed pounds.
Willis said this surprised some experts who say increasing muscle mass helps us burn more calories by increasing our metabolism. Unlike fat, it takes a certain amount of energy to simply maintain muscle. But the Duke researchers say the calories burned from having more muscle were not enough to make a difference when it comes to weight loss.
The researchers also found that cardio workouts proved to be as beneficial for losing fat and weight and required only half the time commitment as the combination workouts.
"They (the combination aerobic/weight training group) did lose more weight around the middle, but it was not statistically significant," says Willis. "We're a little bit unclear as to why that is, but we would say that time-wise, it was not that much more beneficial to do double that work and not get that much more benefit."
But Willis and other experts agree strength training shouldn’t be discounted when it comes to overall health. Lifting weights helps build and maintain strong bones and helps prevent the gradual loss of muscle that comes with aging.
Weight training may not be the best way to take the weight off initially, it does help adults keep it off, says Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist and CNN's diet and fitness expert. And though having added muscle may not burn as many calories as once thought, it does pay off over time.
“If you are short on time and are not dieting, cardio is better for weight loss in the short-term, but we don’t know in the long-term. And in my opinion, to maintain weight loss and achieve optimal health, strength training is still very important,” explains Jampolis.
But some have to get the weight off first before we can then turn their attention to keeping it off, Willis says. And if there’s only time for one type of workout, cardio may be the best choice.
“The point here is that the general public who comes to us to exercise almost unanimously has one main goal, and that is to lose weight and fat," Willis says. "And we’re just not seeing that resistance training would be the most efficient way to do that."
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"wow,... what a shocking relevation", said no one who read this article.
While it's not very shocking, it is still a surprise to "some experts who say increasing muscle mass helps us burn more calories by increasing our metabolism." So while this is still probably true, its not to a significant degree, according to this study.
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BMI shouldn't be used...and its also been known for quite a while that lean muscle increases your metabolism...but it is so small to not even matter. The fitness industry has a nice way of exaggerating everything.
Right? My first thought at reading just the headline was "Seriously? Did we NEED a study to tell us this?"
I find it hard to believe that weight training/lifting didn't burn a significant amount of fat. i will believe that weight was not lost, but i will not believe that fat was not lost. I have been weight training 2 hours a day 5 days a week with no cardio for the past 2 months and i have lost over 5% body fat.
It says the combination workout took twice as long, so I assume participants lifted weights followed by cardio.
I'd be interested for them to test Metabolic Resistance Training instead (Crossfit is one example). There would be no time penalty, and current research shows greater metabolic response than standard aerobic exercise.
I agree with this. Combine cardio/weights in something like CrossFit or just do a circuit workout which is more cardio than just straight lifting. I don't think weights before or after cardio is a good idea anyways obese or not. The way you refuel your body after each is different and doing one first (whichever it is) will cause the latter to be less quality than it could be – especially on leg day.
Doesn't matter, metabolic increase after working out is negligible when comparing two workout routines
Standard cardio increases metabolic rate at about 7% the calories burned in the workout, meaning if you did cardio that burned 600 calories, you would burn 7% additional calories afterwards.
HIIT training, burns only 14% more, even if you survived doing 600 calories of HIIT training, that's only an additional 42 calories over standard cardio.
The supposed afterburn is partially a myth, it does burn more calories, but it doesn't provide that much more. Also, if your doing HIIT with weight lifting, your limited to the number of times you can do this per week, or you will have overtraining and possible injuries.
I agree with you. The problem with these types of studies is that they are usually conducted by clinical exercise professionals rather than fitness professionals so they are not necessarily up to date on fitness techniques and practices. They typically do not tinker there protocol significantly. Where as someone who is fitness based rather that clinical exercise based may be able to offer up some current training practices.
Who cares if the supposed "afterburn" is nominal. The fact is the total fat calories burned during this exercise will be greater than that of a moderate activity. As far as injury goes....supplement your 3 or 4 HIIT days with long steady state cardio at a moderate intensity.
The benefits of weight training in respect to your metabolism is far greater than Cardio and 6 months ago this Micky mouse news page reported that and why now it makes a contradicting story to support the other, while the weight loss was not stated as fat or muscle nor did they conduct a body fat composition before and after could it be the weight lifters simply put on muscle while losing some fat and the Cardio group lost fat and muscle. We will never know because studies these day are engineered to find results that are wanted by the group funding the study.
you are correct.
Agreed. These studies come out all the time and always have conflicting information. Cardio only= loss of muscle mass. Something to consider.
I agree with you Joe, it's all about who's lining who's pockets these days.
Strength training is just an afterthought. Strength training, however, can burn just as much, if not more, fat than cardio. Why is it that people focus on cardio as they're primary fat burner?
For one thing cardio does shrink you down. But it does just that: it shrinks down both your fat and muscle. You end skinny and soft. Bodybuilders, however, want to retain or even build muscle while burning off fat. Why? A larger engine burns more fuel. Larger muscles burn more calories and more fat.
While cardio burns calories and fat when you're performing it, high rep strength training has what is known as high EPOC or "Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption." This is a fancy term for saying how long your metabolism is elevated after exercise.
Studies show that a well-designed strength program can elevate your EPOC or metabolism for up to 38 hours after the workout. In other words, you continue to burn calories long after strength training. Whereas once you stop cardio, the calorie burning stops as well.
Cardio burns more calories per hour than weight lifting. They did each activity for the same length of time. Seems Mr Weight Lifting was set up to fail in this study, despite all of the benefits you get from it. They didn't quote how much muscle mass was lost. Isn't that part of the whole story too?
From my personal experience, cardio training is as effective as weight lifting, but it can be incredibly stressful for many people, and that increased stress helps bringing back the lost weight. Many people simply don't enjoy cardio training and get really bored during it, counting the seconds for that thing to be over, while the same doesn't happen with weight lifting. After the first weeks, the boredom becomes stress and what was supposed to be a pleasurable activity with some sense of achievement becomes a chore.
"But it does just that: it shrinks down both your fat and muscle. You end skinny and soft."
I have to disagree. Cardio doesnt shrink muscles, it tones them. Muscle is built, via cardio, though not to the same degree was weight training. I know numerous cardio people that are not soft, at all. They are fit and tone. Losing weight includes fat and water, which makes the person visually smaller.
Muscle tissue burns slightly more calories than fat. Nothing wrong with weight training,but the argument that muscle significantly increases your metabolism to the point it makes a difference is a myth. It does not.
Strength training is very important for those wanting that lean muscle mass like fitness models and celebrities alike. Cardio alone will only make humans smaller versions of what they already are. If people want to look lean and tone, don't just do cardio. Diet is key, then strength training, and cardio follows. This is why Americans struggle losing weight- articles such as this one leaves out key components of overall appearance and health benefits when it comes to diet and exercise. Lay off the lean cuisines, drink water, and strength train. If you're eating on point, the weight will fall off and you will look and feel phenomenal.
Definitely diet is first and foremost. If diet alone was fixed, cardio and weights aside, improvements in the population in the study would no doubt be seen at least in how they 'feel'. You don't just want to lose scale weight in pounds. You want the number to decrease because of lost body fat not lost muscle. Doing cardio right after weights will not help this goal especially without a good diet. Your body will at some point during that double long workout need to use muscle as fuel.
Also, we're the results of those who solely strength trained eating right? Probably not. Even if there is no weight loss on the scale, if you're eating correctly, you will be losing fat and gaining dense muscle, thus not seeing a difference on the scale, or even a gain! I've lost over 100lbs in a year combining cardio and strength training, and once I started eating properly I didn't need as much cardio! Come on CNN, how about articles that include all aspects of training!? Look what you're teaching Americans! I already see enough women on the treadmill... We need to focus on eating right and getting exercise, not eating terribly and walking!
Wow! Information is always changing ....
I've never been a huge fan of these "lose weight quickly" type articles. The problem with most of the methods is that, most people end up putting the weight straight back on.
If you want to lose weight permanently, then visit: http://healthandfitnessdiets.com. Thanks to the great diet plans and workout routines, I'm currently in the best shape of my life and look great. Furthermore, the weight is staying off!
However, remember there are no shortcuts or magical secrets to a great body – it's simply a result of hard-work and not giving up!
Not necessarily , losing weight is all about a sequence of biological reactions: (Creating the right metabolic state, Spiking Muscle Insulin Sensitivity, Depleting Glycogen, Breaking Fat, Burning broken fat).
The more you trigger them in sequence the better results you can expect.
Neatbodies have a 10 pages book about it, explains it really well maybe worth having a look.
Was it fat loss or weight loss? Other studies have shown cardio results in muscle loss not fat loss, which is not usually the goal.
In my personal experience I have found that what I put into my body before, during and after workouts also contributes greatly to the fat loss and toning muscle. This past summer I discovered this Greens product that has literally changed the composition of my body and my general health all around. The website that I purchase from is https://healthfulbydesign.myitworks.com/Shop/Product/475
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where's the news here ....of course it does, but weightlifting shapes and tones better than cardio...........especially for women! Do BOTH
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I do both strength training and cardio, and I prefer to have that combination so that I not only keep off the nearly 125 pounds I lost this year, but be as fit as possible. Women can't live on cardio alone, and strength training has definitely helped my performance in my races and prevented injury.
I feel there is so much wrong with this. This is short sighted; we don't want to treat a symptom we want to change a lifestyle. Also when it comes to your health it's probably best to leave the marginal analysis to economics. Even though you don't get statistically significant improvements by doing cardio and weight training (according to this study) any move towards a more healthy lifestyle is worth it. Priorities. I would say if you are short on time to do a circuit workout. That combines cardio and weights at the same time and can be done in just the 45 minute period used in this study – 3x a week would be great! When starting out I wouldn't recommend such a strong focus on weights only anyways (like a muscle group a day for example).
Sometimes the simplest shifts to take action make the most difference. It has been my observation that the biggest impact a workout schedule of any kind has is that the individual is not eating during the time their session is in effect. Just the calories gain by not being involved in an activity will quickly build up. That is the core problem. The lifestyle comments have great merit. Any workout is better than none for sure and some will be more effective than others for different reasons. Some will burn more calories and other build more muscle, but overall it's more important to be consistent and seek a method you enjoy. I do not like running. but i love to play basketball and get my running in through the sport. I find that it doesn't take much weight training to get your body to respond so 15 to 20 min of focused effort (almost like a warm up routine) plus a cardio activity works for me. Climbing stairs does wonders by the way.
Allow me to explain this to muscle man in simple terms.
Your big arm can weight 10 pounds. You can move that arm forward and back 60 times in a minute. That means you have moved 600 pounds in one minute. But if you lift that 50 pound weight, you can do that about 10 times in a minute to get the same amount of work. Yes, moving slower makes bigger muscles. But you can only lift the weight 50 times for a grand total of 3,000 pounds being moved. But you can move just your arm for 10 minutes for a grand total of 6,000 pounds. And for your legs, that is so much more. But if your heart isn't use to fast movement for long periods of time, you will get tired quick- like lifting too much weight at once.
Yeah, I don't think this is news for anyone. Most people who don't do cardio are just too lazy for it and prefer to lift some weights 10 times and then sit on the bench for 5 minutes, don't you agree =) If you want to look at the funny side of weight loss check this out: http://strength-training.top5.com/top-5-easy-ways-to-get-fit/
Exercise in front of the TV – no, it's not an oxymoron! Hilarious!
Resistance exercise metabolizes glucose/glycogen while cardiorespiratory exercise at a submaximal level will metabolize fat. Has to do with the RER, respiratory exchange ratio, CO2/O2. If less than .72 the body will only use fat as fuel. Greater than.72 an increasing amount of carbohydrates will be used as fuel. At 1.0 only glucose/glycogen is metabolized. Fat metabolism requires oxygen excess for Beta oxidation to occur as two carbon atoms at a time, are cleaved from the free fatty acid chain to synthesize Acetyl Coenzyme A, the first molecule of the citric acid cycle,commonly known as the Krebs cycle. That said, resistance training will induce muscle hypertrophy, an increase in lean body mass, so while at rest with the RER < .72, the body will experience an increased resting metabolic rate and metabolize only fat. As an example, I walk, slowly,3-4 mph, 50+ miles a week to burn fat and circuit train eccentrically at high intensity, to burn glycogen. At 56 years, have a measured % body fat of 8%. Recently understood, low levels of a byproduct of Beta oxidation, Beta hydroxybutyrate, down regulates histone deacetylase, which allows the genes foxo 3a and mt 2 to turn on and expressing as anti oxidative pathways, protecting cells from radicals of oxygen.
Seems like a huge waste of time to walk 50+ miles that slowly, unless you just like walking. Most people dont have that kind of time to commit to exercise, most people will not commit an hour a day. You'll burn fat walking that slow, but it takes MUCH longer to do than cardio or strength training. Doing Cardio or strength, you'll burn fat once glucose and glycogen stores are depleted.
I knew this a long time ago, whenever I do straight cardio w/out doing little or weights, I feel refresh and when I decided to take up running around the neighborhood, I kept off those extra few pounds easily...
I lift weights not so much for the physical benefits (although I do feel stronger and better when I do), but because it's a nice way to break up my workouts. If I did five days of cardio - even if I mixed it up between walking, running, elliptical, etc. - I think I'd get bored. I think for people looking to lose weight, fighting the boredom of a "routine" may be more important than the number on the scale if they're going to stick with it.
While it would seem to make sense that once glycogen has been depleted, the body would metabolize fat, the physiology of FFA, free fatty acid, metabolism CANNOT occur in an environment I previously described. Note the phenomenon of, "Hitting the wall", that some marathoners undergo.There are only two oxygen atoms in the fatty acid chain, bound up in the carboxyl end of the FFA chain. The metabolic pathway to the citric acid cycle for FFA is quite different than that for glycogen.In stage 2 of fat metabolism, fatty acids undergo beta oxidation, which removes two carbon segments at a time, to synthesize acetyl CoA which is required for the citric acid (Krebs cycle). The Krebs cycle generates the electron carriers from NAD and FAD which then transport electrons to the electron transport chain for the purpose of creating a proton gradient which will then drive ATP synthase which binds ADP to inorganic phosphate to form ATP. This is a very simplified and shortened explanation. The reason for me walking slowly instead of running is that at 56, I cannot generate the anti oxidative enzymes such as SOD, that I could at a younger age to deal with the radicals of oxygen generated as oxygen is the final electron acceptor in the electron transport chain, and these are the ,"Free Radicals", which are dangerous at the cellular level. Also walking is far less destructive than running, from a high impact point of view,and after years of running, has taken a toll on my knees. I set myself up so that I am earning my 4th undergrad in Exercise Science at a local University that is 3 miles from my current residence and also 2 miles from my gym, and therefore in the last 2 years have spent about 30 dollars on gas. So while it may seem that walking is a waste of time, the physiological benefits along with my eccentric resistance circuit training are priceless. My last career was as a Medical Technologist, Generalist, ASCP in a hospital lab and am very familiar with the pathology of my age cohort that maintain sedentary lifestyles. It's really quite sad to observe the needless degeneration, due mainly to sitting on one's behind and eating processed food.
The author of this story is mixing up two things. There is burning fat, and there is losing weight. When you lose weight you could be losing fat and muscle.
When you do aerobic exercise you are will absolutely lose more weight than if you are simply weight training. But weight training will increase fat loss and muscle gain, which is what most people are looking for.
Wow, thanks for the newsflash captain obvious. But, you're mixing apples and oranges.
In this beginning of 2013, I find a very strong disposition of, finally loosing, initially 5 pounds and as keeping my goal, the 40 needless pounds I carry. The program is relatively normal for me, so, I am sure I will win this one!
i find this here
CARDIO DOES NOT BURN MORE FAT THAN WEIGHT LIFTING.
Losing fat is a combination of eating healthy and exercsing ( it is a personal choice you can do either weight training, cardio, or yoga.)
Best exercise for losing weight-table push-aways. You Americans need to stop stuffing all that country-fried factory food into your fat cheeks while you watch overpaid pro athletes on TV, and actually waddle your pudgy butts outside and do some salsa dancing, swimming, gardening, standing in place...ANYTHING.
Although cardiovascular activity will burn a significantly higher PERCENTAGE of calories from fat, an effective mix of strength and HR elevating activity is the best way to burn fat because greater TOTAL fat calories will be burned in the same amount of time. Example: walking=160kcal/hr and 60%fat calories = 96kcal from fat......... Higher Intensity Circuit Training=700-800 kcal/hr and 20% fat calories= 140-160 kcal from Fat.
Exercise is great and essential, but addressing fat loss for obese fifty somethings is mostly a dietary issue. Everyone on earth knows that 'diet & exercise' is important but they aren't equivalent. Diet is 80% of the equation for fat loss. This group wasn't diabetic, but I bet money many were insulin resistant or pre diabetic. I really hate that ellipticals and treadmills were mentioned because isn't this the same bad advice that has failed millions over the last 20-30 years? This kind of cardio doesn't confer longterm fat loss, just ask a majority of Biggest Loser contestants.
This study seems pretty simplistic. The reality is that one can burn tons of fat while retaining muscle mass without exercise simply by reducing carbohydrate intake. Many other health benefits will accrue as well. I lost 54 lbs in five months this way. I had two TIA's at age 70 and was prevented by my doctor's from exercising. I do not recommend not exercising as it has many benefits unrelated to weight loss and maintenance. But if you are unable to exercise, you can still lose significant fat quickly and easily, without suffering constant hunger. I now do 3 HIIT workouts a week With a couple easy 3 mile runs in between, maintaining perfectly. I eat around 2200 calories a day; 25% protein, 65% fat, 10% carbs and all my numbers are great. I weigh 170 with a LBM of 152.
On the whole "BMI" comments, of course this isn't the ONLY thing to be looked at. You should take diet, exercise regime and other considerations for building lean muscle fast. Check out my review of somanabolic muscle maximizer here:http://somanabolicreviews.org/somanabolic-muscle-maximizer ...its a great holistic solution for muscle gain
This is ridiculous. The intensity of the workout is also a crucial factor in losing weight while building muscle.. Most people who are extremely overweight probably don't frequent the gym, which means they most likely don't know how to properly strength train.
this is bullsheiii*T... why do you think all overweight ppl can run marathons compared to fit ppl who only run a little bit n maybe cant run a mile. cardio dont push musce past limits or burn the same, and helps mostly for your lungs/heart n able to run longer....
another thing is the ones who strength trained most likely didn't know what they were doing.. even the trainers who they had as most trainers dont kno shi*T...people who do it right correct nutrition,stretch b4, during,after exercise and lift hard& heavy in a short amount of time...& doing the right exercises.. trainers suck iv seen no one get results from a trainer.. people still look the same after years..goin to the gym ..all they do is cardo so tell me? why these ppl i kno still look the same!... i guarantee you results with the BOdybyvi 90 day challenge...replace/add vi shake once/twice a day & get guaranteed 90day money back results guarantee-even 10k are givin away to ten ppl for losing ten lbs!!! you have nothing to lose but weight!! http://www.devscott.myvi.net
Has no one realized that the sample population used is extremely inaccurate as a representative of the general population?
I weighed 196 ibs two years ago. I lost 54ibs running my butt off. 7 days per week between 4-5 miles per day. and cut my food intake in half. 7 months ago i started weight training. I can't see how weight lifting could possibly come close to burning as many calories. Where a heart rate monitor you will see. When i run my heart rate is between 75-85% of my max heart rate. When i am on a spin bike it's about 78% of my max heart rate. When i weight lift it's very low.. like 50% of my max heart rate. 100 bpm if that. The heart rate monitor doesn't lie. I now run 5 miles every other day and spin on the days i don't run. I weight lift at night 5-6 per week. Note. I push myself pretty hard when i weight lift too. i weigh 142 ibs and can bench press 225 ib 3 and 205 for 8 i also rep out.
I ONLY do weight training and EAT RIGHT, no long boring cardio at all. My longest cardio is 20 mins, once or twice a week, at pretty high intensity.
I used to have 15% body fat, now only 10%.
The goal should be to lose fat and gain some muscle mass, not just losing body weight.
I've always found cardio and effective and planned dieting had been the best thing for just weight loss
If you read the actual the study, it states that resistance training caused a noticable increase in lean body mass however, which to someone attempting to improve overall health and appearance, would be a very important factor. This article isn't wrong, but reading the ACTUAL study shows a different perspective than how it was reported. This writer needs to really assess how they are reporting these to the general public, because this could be misconstrued as an article telling you not to peform resistance training.
I would like this study to be redone but not only over a longer period, but also a better planned out aerobic exercise program using methods other than steady state exercise.
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If you were to compare cardio to weight lifting in my opinion I would say go for weight lifting. Weightlifting for me turns fat into muscle, therefore toning your body instead of just losing the weight. I personally do both cardio and weight lifting to gain the best of both strength and fitness. See what I have to say about weight training