The benefits of doing steady-state cardio for fat-loss (without muscle loss) and metabolic strength training are often put at odds with both fitness experts and those seeking to get fit. The question may not be about cardio vs. strength training being best, but a combination of the two as the best makeup of an ongoing workout regimen.
Although many interpreted a 2012 study on the effects of cardio training in weight management as superior to strength training, it may not have told the whole story. While cardio burns more calories during a workout than strength training, strength training has its own calorie burning abilities that go beyond the actual workout.
One of the fundamentals that we all learn when we start a journey to getting fit is that the relationship of the daily caloric intake to the number of calories burned is the crucial factor in fat loss. Trimming caloric intake is a good place to start, but the question then becomes cardio or strength training?
It is clear that cardio burns more calories than strength training during the workout. This is great for losing weight but if done to the exclusion of strength training it will result in a loss of both fat and muscle mass.
Strength training is great at building muscle and the body continues to burn calories for as much as 36 hours after the workout. If done correctly and in the right proportion strength training can contribute lean muscle mass, which is what continues to burn calories in the body over time.
If your goal is to get fit with a good amount of lean muscle mass rather than bulk up or just lose weight, a consistent but varied workout routine that incorporates cardio and strength training along with a calorie-conscious diet is the way to go. This is one of many ways in which the guidance of a personal trainer can help.
They have the experience to make an assessment of where you are physically and can plot a course to get you to where you want to go. By creating a balance of cardio and strength training with varied activities and exercises making up the workout week, you can reach your fitness goals in an efficient way while eliminating the boredom factor that comes with a one-track fitness routine.