Why is Lifting Weights Better than Doing Cardio?

Jun 15, 2021 mindpump

Is your goal to lose weight or to preserve muscle? If you don’t care about losing muscle and just want to become a skinnier version of your current self, then cardio will be better for lifting weights. Cardio burns more calories per hour than resistance training does. If you are trying to keep your hard earned muscle, or have a muscular physique as you lean down, then lifting weights takes priority.

Resistance Training Over The Long Haul

While resistance training within a given session doesn’t burn as many calories as cardio, over the long haul it would. Muscle is calorically expensive to have. The more of it you have on your frame, the MORE calories you burn at REST. You don’t get this from cardio. So if you’d like to eat more calories and not add on fat, then putting on muscle should be your main priority.

Cardio Over The Long Haul

Cardio is great for heart health, expending a lot of calories in a short time, and overall fitness. If you are using it as a part of your exercise routine, are eating at maintenance or a caloric surplus, then cardio is a great tool. It will help you better utilize oxygen, and can increase your stamina in the gym.

The problem is most people incorporating cardio are doing it because they are on a diet. When you are on a diet that means you must be in a deficit of calories. This is also known as starvation mode. If your body is in starvation mode, then it wants to do whatever it takes to prioritize keeping you alive. As you continue to do bouts of cardio, your body will start becoming more and more efficient with calories during that session. In other words, it will focus on burning LESS calories than when you first started out your diet.

It’s realizing that you are doing a ton of cardio, and not intaking enough food to supply that workout so it is maximizing what it has to get through. You also run the potential of actually storing more fuel as FAT because of this issue.

My point here isn’t to demonize cardio. It has its place, but start to look at it more as a tool to help increase a deficit temporarily during your diets to help you hit your goals.

You Don’t Need Cardio to Lose Weight

That leads me to my final point. You don’t even need cardio to lose weight. Think of it this way. Lifting weights creates the stimulus to grow muscle or increase performance, and changing your intake of calories controls whether you are in a deficit or not. If your maintenance was 2500 calories, and all you did was lower your intake by 500 calories (no cardio), you’d lose weight.

Cardio in itself isn’t some magic fat inducing protocol. It’s just helping you create a deficit below your maintenance. However, you can still create that deficit without cardio! Try lowering your calories by 500 for 1-2 weeks and see if the weight drops.

Competing Signals

You also don’t want to send your body competing signals. If your main goal is muscle growth, but you are running 45 minutes every single day, and lifting 2-3 times a week, then by definition, you aren’t truly prioritizing a muscle growth state over endurance are you? You are sending too much of a signal to pare down muscle growth for the sake of burning calories and tapping into slow twitch muscle fibers. A type I fast twitch fiber will struggle to grow if long distance runs are always throwing signals for the opposite.

If you don’t want to get rid of your cardio, try doing 2-3 days of resistance training, with 2-3 of running MAX at 30-35 minutes. Make sure it’s a form of cardio that won’t negatively impact your performance in the gym. If running impacts your squats and deadlifts, maybe switch to the elliptical or swimming. Again, create an overall workout that optimizes your growth in the gym.

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