Does Lifting Weights Burn MORE Fat than Cardio?

There seems to still be a debate on whether cardio based training or resistance (weight lifting) based training has the bigger impact on fat burning.


While the marketing for HIIT based “fat burning” classes are overwhelming, the implications of recent research, however, supports resistance (weight training) as having greater potential for fat burning.


Researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine found that resistance-like exercise regulates fat cell metabolism at a molecular level.


The study (performed on mice and humans) show that in response to resistance training, muscle cells release particles called extracellular vesicles that give fat cells instructions to enter fat-burning mode.


This does not suggest that cardio based exercises have no fat burning capacities- but it DOES indicate that resistance based exercises may have a greater impact in fat burning based on the particles released specifically during these exercises.


There are other reasons to include resistance based exercises into your training program. Resistance based movements are used to build muscle tissue. This muscle tissue, once built, requires a greater caloric load to maintain.


This means- the more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns on a daily basis simply to maintain that muscle.


Therefore not only do you have fat burning capabilities during the resistance training workout itself- but your body will need to continue to burn energy to facilitate the recovery process AND THEN continue to burn energy to maintain the muscle you have built.


This differs from the body’s response to cardio based movements where calorie burn during the exercise itself may be higher per duration (you may burn more calories in 20 minutes of cardio than in 20 minutes of resistance training) but the latent calorie burn (the calories burned as a result of the exercises but that are burned after the exercise has ended) is significantly less.


Again- this is not a cry to stop doing your cardio. Cardio has many important health benefits beyond calorie burn.


But this is a cry to add resistance training to your routine! Both for increased fat burning potential as well as long-term health benefits.

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