Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button
Stumbleupon button

Cardio or Weight Training?

It seems to me that we constantly look for the best approaches to problems.  That includes our health/fitness.  If you have tried losing weight at some point in your life you have probably heard that you should do Cardio from one person and Weight training from another.  Each have their benefits but is there one that is better than the other?  Cardio or Weight Training?

As a P90Xer, I have learned the benefit of both weight training and cardio.  I wouldn’t consider every dropping one completely.  But I do believe that in order to become a more fit individual, you definitely need to include some sore of weight training into your exercise routine.  There are many known benefits of weight training and I believe that it has gotten a bad stigma because of the bodybuilding world.  Women jumped on the cardio junkie bandwagon of the 1980s because they were afraid that if they lifted weights that they would get bulky and too muscular.  That isn’t the case.  There is a time and a place for weight training in your fitness schedule as well as your cardio sessions.

Which Burns More Calories?

I can’t accross and interesting study that compared to the two.  Here is what it said…

A strength training session in which you burn, say, 300 calories burns more calories than a cardio session where you burn 300 calories on the treadmill. Impossible? No it’s not. At least, if you take into account the raised calorie burning after training.

Yes, we’re talking about elevated post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC: the phenomenon whereby your body burns more oxygen, and therefore also more calories, after a training session. Sports scientists only started studying this effect in the nineties, but the results of their research indicate that, for people who want to control their weight, strength training is a good alternative to endurance and cardio training.

This is also known as the After Burn effect.  A idea where your body continues to burn calories much further beyond your workout.  As a matter of fact, this effect has been shown to be seen in HIIT versions of cardio  as well.  TurboFire is even based on this effect.  This makes logical sense though.  After you break down the muscle your body needs to repair.  This causes many things to happen with your body in order to do that, thus causing your body to take calories and use them to repair muscle.

How Does This Work?

In 2005 researchers at Shippensburg University in the US published the results of a human study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. For this they had got eight women, average age 31, to undergo two training sessions. On one occasion the women did weight training [CT]. They did three sets of leg-presses, knee-extensions, leg-curls, biceps-curls, triceps-extensions and bench presses with 65 percent of the weight at which they could just manage one rep. Between each set the women rested for 30 seconds, and after each exercise for two minutes.

On the other occasion the women ran on a treadmill. The researchers increased the intensity slightly every three minutes until the women were running at 85 percent of their maximal heart rate [TM]. The women stopped running when they had burned as many calories as they had done during the strength training session.

During the first hour after each training session the researchers measured how much oxygen [and therefore calories] the women burned.  In the first hour after both training sessions the women’s oxygen expenditure was higher than before the training session. In the first half hour, oxygen expenditure was significantly higher after the CT training than after the TM training.

The respiratory exchange ration [RER], this is the ratio between inhaled and exhaled oxygen, is what is responsible.  The lower the RER, the more calories you burn from fat and the fewer from carbs. So the women derived most of the energy for their EPOC after the strength training session from fat.

The researchers suspect that strength training uses relatively large amounts of energy that does not come directly from combustion processes, and which are therefore not visible if you just measure oxygen use during a training session. Restoration of the unnoticed energy reserves only shows up, in terms of oxygen expenditure, after the training session.

Pretty interesting findings right?  This shows that strength training does have an added benefit, and why most extremely fit people train with weights.  Of course it depends on what your goals are and what look  you are going for.  I do believe that everyone, even endurance runners, could benefit from some sort of weight training.

A program like P90X takes this concept and adds muscle confusion to it so you can continue to make your muscle guess, so you can continue to get stronger and see greater results.  Weight training is an essential part of this.  The pace of P90X also makes this workout burn up to 600-800 calories.  It’s a fast paced workout that will give you all the benefits of weight training with the heart rats of cardio.  This is why it has worked for countless numbers of people, including me!

Should I Add Weight Training?

In my humble opinion, yes you should.  We all know that cardio burns calories and is great for shedding body fat.  But weight training does as well and that’s why you should definitely have BOTH in your routine!  There is a reason why P90X2 doesn’t have a true cardio workout.  P90X2 is the cutting edge of fitness and is going to blow people away.  They have taken this concept and created an amazing program.  But even Tony Horton does cardio as well.  On the flip side, Insanity’s Shaun T (Mr. Crazy Cardio himself) saw the benefits of weight training by adding in a Strength workout into AsylumTurboFire has a resistance workout for this reason too!  You have to include a resistance workout into your fitness program to see the greatest results for your efforts.  So, don’t just choose sides.  Have both Weight training and Cardio in your fitness schedule.  You will see great results from the added benefits of both!

Source: Eur J Appl Physiol. 2005 Aug;94(5-6):500-4.


Do you agree with these findings?  Let me know Below!  Cardio or Weight Training?



  1. […] Thanks to some legwork by my pal Sean Callahan, I’ve cribbed some interesting stats he’s researched and posted while answering the age-old weights vs. cardio fisticuffs.  First… […]