Resistance Training vs Cardiovascular Training for Fat Loss*

Monday, 22 August 2016, By Blake Nicholls

People have often asked me which is the best form of exercise to lose weight; either cardiovascular or resistance training. However, the answer is not so black and white.

Cardiovascular training is a great way to burn fat while exercising. The two main types of cardiovascular training include High Intensity Interval Training and endurance training. High Intensity Interval training (HIIT) involves periods of high intensity workload combined with periods of rest allowing heart rate to return to below a suitable level of maximum heart rate. HIIT sessions do not require a long duration, the limited rest allowed during a sessions allows work to be completed quickly. HIIT sessions lasting 25 - 30 minutes (including a warm up) are sufficient to significantly decrease fat mass in participants. The short nature of HIIT workouts may be more convenient for participants under time restraints looking for a quick workout. HIIT has been shown to produce the best results based on fat loss.

Continuous training involves endurance training in a targeted heart rate zone for long periods of time. Both intensity and duration can be altered depending on the person and goal of training. Effective training sessions can vary in duration from as little as 20 minutes to multiple hours and Intensity can also be manipulated to give different fat loss outcomes. During low intensity exercise fats are utilised as the main energy source. As intensity increases stored carbohydrates (glycogen) become the bodies preferred energy resource. Continuous training is generally low impact in nature; common forms of continuous training include walking, cycling, and swimming. More intense forms of continuous training such as running, boxing and skipping are also commonly used to promote weight loss and improve cardiovascular health. The easy approach and low impact nature of continuous training may be more suitable to participants starting a weight loss journey or looking to start improving fitness than their high intensity counter-parts.

Resistance training or most commonly referred to as weight training works differently to give a fat loss result. When we undergo weight training we want to use our largest muscle groups in order to burn the most energy as we can, some examples of exercises that use large muscle groups include; squats, bench press, wide grip row, wide grip lat pulldown. Our main goal here however, is to build muscle, which increases our metabolism, which means we can efficiently burn more fat at rest. Resistance training indirectly helps with fat loss through increasing metabolism, and has added advantages including a change in body composition by decreasing body fat percentage and increasing lean body mass.

In conclusion, the overall best way to lose weight is through high intensity interval training lasting up to 30minutes a session. However, Moderate-Low intensity endurance exercise can also decrease body fat percentage, except it is a slower process but still achievable nonetheless. Low-Moderate level exercise also has benefits within clients with high cardiovascular risks as it is less taxing on the body and is a good way to start exercising.

Resistance training, although doesn't improve much in terms of actual weight loss can still be beneficial in terms of change in body composition, increasing lean body mass and decreasing body fat percentage. This combined with an adequate amount of cardiovascular exercise will provide the most success in terms of overall change in the body, but requires the most time and energy to implement.

It must also be noted that to gain effective results, a calorie deficit diet must be implemented in conjunction with an exercise plan.

Blake Nicholls
Personal Trainer

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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