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23 Sep 2020 By PURVA NARANG

Whenever we decide to lose weight, we often find ourselves stuck with a tricky question — should we do cardio or lift weights? They are the two most popular types of workouts, but it can be hard to understand which one of them is better to achieve your fitness goals while making the most of your time. 


While both help us become healthier and fit (as discussed in my previous columns), it all comes down to whether your aim is to increase strength or change your body composition. The National Health Service, UK, recommends adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week, as well as strengthening activities that work all the major muscles at least twice a week. But what those minutes are made up of, is really up to you.

Cardio vs strength training

Activities involved

Cardio – This involves activities like running, walking, swimming, cycling, or anything that raises your heart rate

Weight training– This ranges from compound and isolation exercises to circuits and other workouts that include high impact movements, targeting specific muscles, performed in a shorter period of time.

Calories burnt

Cardio Cardio workout burns more calories than a weight training workout in the same duration. Eg. If you weigh 70 kg, you will burn about 200-250 calories per 30 minutes of jogging at a moderate pace. While you might only burn around 130-200 calories in the same amount of time if you weight-train.

Weight training – Strength training is more effective than cardio at increasing the number of calories we burn throughout the day. The muscles we train using weights continue to burn calories during recovery, even when the body is at rest. This in-turn improves our overall metabolism. 

Achieving fitness goals

Cardio– If your goal is to bring down the number on the weighing scale, cardio is your best tool. Cardio workouts aid in fat loss by burning minute to minute calories, improving cardiovascular health and uncovering the muscles you’ve sculpted. 

Weight training – If your goal is to fit into smaller pants, strength workouts are the answer. These help build lean muscles and sculpt them better; while also improving our resting metabolism by burning calories for days or hours after a workout.

It’s difficult to say if one is better than the other. A combination of cardio and weights is best for improving your body’s composition. You need to incorporate cardio to lose the excess fat and uncover the lean muscle you’ve built by weight training

The ultimate aim should be to train consistently in a way that helps you smash your goals while enjoying the whole process. This, without necessarily sacrificing your social life in the pursuit of these goals.

Start small, stay consistent!

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