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Cardio vs. Weights: which is better for weight loss?

Even the most enthusiastic gym goer might shy away from the strength training corner at times: it can seem intimidating, not knowing where to start with free form weights and mats. It can often seem a male-dominated environment, meaning men tend to gravitate that way to show off their gains, whereas women feel relegated to the cardio machines.

But we’ve been told time and again, to lose weight, you need to burn those calories. And to do this, you need to get serious with the treadmill. Experts argue, however, that strength training and weights can also be an effective method to getting fit.

So this begs the question, which is better for you if your goal is to lose weight – cardio or strength training? Read on to find out how each method has its own benefits, but how it may be unique to your own situation.

Benefits of Cardio

  • Fat burning: In terms of getting rid of excess body fat, aerobic exercises that get your heart pumping are truly the way to get the calories burnt. You’ll burn off far more calories in a session of cardio exercises than you will in the same length session working on the weights.
  • Body shape: In terms of reshaping what you already have, cardio will help you lose weight in fat, but it can also reduce your muscle mass at the same time. You can’t target specific areas in cardio exercise meaning that, while you may be losing weight, it may not be benefiting specific areas of your body – it may be a detriment in the long run.

Benefits of Weights & Strength Training

  • Fat burning: Despite cardio being touted as the king for calorie burning, weights do still burn calories, but also have an additional benefit: studies have shown that your metabolism, and thus the rate you burn calories and fat at after a workout, are boosted for more than 24 hours. In addition to this short-term benefit, weight training also builds lean muscle which is far more effective at burning calories in the long run – it’s a win-win situation!
  • Body shape: Compared to cardio, weight training is highly targeted. This means that you’re able to focus in a specific muscle group, alternating throughout the week to get a good balance, and see a change in muscle tone over those areas during your training. While cardio might help you drop in weight more rapidly, strength training will help you improve body composition in general, meaning you look more toned in the same amount of time.

Which is best?

The first step is getting out of the mindset that a single type of exercise is all you need, but also breaking away from the fact that one method will work for everyone, as this simply isn’t true. In the vast majority of cases, people need a mixture of different training options that incorporate a carefully designed programme of both cardio exercises and weights.

Finding out the optimum programme for you can be tricky. Many people simply base this around trial and error, figuring out how quickly their body responds to each kind of training and the results they get. As each body type is unique, this can be a long process. Our NutriQlu DNA fitness test, however, can give you far more insights into your body and which types of training will help you perform better in your goals, including losing weight. The test breaks even breaks down specific foods that you may have sensitivities to which may not be helping on your path to weight loss, as well as your specific body composition.

Once you have these results in place, you’ll be able to design a training plan, perhaps alongside a personal trainer, that will work for you, incorporating elements of both cardio and weights to get you the results you want in a way that works for your body.


Our NutriQlu test will unlock the secrets of your DNA to identify genetic predispositions for food intolerances, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, ideal exercise type and more.

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If you’re looking to lose weight, get lean, gain muscle and optimise your diet take the first step with a NutriQlu personalised nutrition and fitness report.

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