July 20

What’s better for fat loss…Weights or cardio?

man jogging for fat loss
Back in the day, if you asked a fitness pro what they considered the best way to lose weight? They’d probably tell you to get on the treadmill or do some cardio- long and slow. This was the go-to option for anyone who wanted to lose weight.
Whether it was cycling, running, using the cross-trainer or walking, cardio rather than progressive resistance training, was seen as the fat persons solution.

Ask the same professional nowadays, however, and the answer may not be the same.

Before I get into which I prefer, its important to understand the details of the question. What a lot of people seek to achieve is weight loss- but what they really mean is fat loss. They wouldn’t want to lose lean muscle, as that would slow their metabolism and leave them without any shape in their physique.

Any training regime you choose to embark on to lose body fat and get lean should be built around maintaining lean muscle mass.

Below I’ve put together some pros and cons of weights and cardio (not that the two can’t be combined) and how they both compare.



  • Potentially high and instant calorie burn
  • Low entry barrier, generally anyone can start straight away
  • Very good low intensity options for fat loss ie walking, swimming
  • Can be done in fun, social team environments i.e sports, working out with others
  • Little recovery time needed


  • A lot of people can sometimes over-do cardio, we see it often with runners for instance, knee and other joint problems
  • Can get monotonous and boring, leading to quitting altogether
  • Very difficult to maintain a balanced physique alone

A quick tip: When cardio training, sprinting and high intensity body-weight training can not only deliver benefits of cardio. Studies gathered by greatlist.com show this form of cardio can also promote additional calorie burn longer after your session. Adding to that I must add it can also burn more calories in less time compared to low intensity cardio.

Weight Training


  • Increases muscle mass relatively quickly
  • Offers the ability to grow and tone muscle leading to sustained fat loss
  • Promotes a spike in metabolism meaning you burn more calories after your workout
  • Improves posture


  • Can be compared to cardio lower caloric (short, not long-term)
  • Lots of poor information available leading to poor results
  • Can increase hunger considerably, so factor in calorie intake and balance

On comparison, weight training offers more health benefits than cardio. Most of the fat loss benefits from cardio exercise can be achieved simply through calorie deficit.

However, it does not mean I am suggesting you follow a fat loss program around resistance training and no cardio whatsoever. There is no must or must not do approach. Instead when our clients embark on a fat loss regime, we offer a combination of the two. The weight training offering the benefits mentioned at an intensity where they are also enduring the cardiovascular benefits too all in the same workout.

My best recommendation? Combine the two especially in the first 6-8 weeks benefiting from all mobility, endurance and strength. Ive added below a guide you can follow to start a weight training programme.

Progressive weight training and low intensity cardio

Monday: Resistance training: 3 sets of 10-12


Bench press



Tuesday: Light cardio eg. Cycling or walking – 30-60 minutes

Wednesday: Resistance training – 3 sets of 10-12


Leg Curl

Military press

Pull downs

Upright row

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Sprints or HIIT session

Saturday: Light cardio: eg. Cycling or walking

Sunday: Rest

For further information on how you can boost your metabolism, fat loss, improving health and functional fitness, call us on 0208 432 9991 or click here to send us a message.

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