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Which burns more calories? Cardio or weights?


I guess this is a good question for Trainer George.  I have heard that weight training is more effective at burning calories than cardio.  So running and sweating on the treadmill for an hour actually burns less than an intense weight training workout for the same amount of time.  Is this true and if so, why?
Feb 28, 2011 @ 10:55 am

10 Replies


my two cents

From my understanding, because weight training allows you to build more muscle (and muscle burns fat), that is a possible reason you could say the above is true. However, for weight loss, cardio is usually the go-to (just make sure to change it up a little. i.e. try spinning, dancing, hot yoga, etc.). Before you change anything in your diet/work-outs/lifestyle, make sure you consult a professional!
Feb 28, 2011 @ 12:34 pm


You've gotta do both, weight training is great for breaking down muscle (the calories are burned AFTER your workout when your body has to rebuild the muscle - plus more muscle burns more calories, so you want to build lean muscle in the long run).

BUT, You also need to get your heart pumping because your raised heart rate is what burns fat while you are working out – this is why warming up on a cardio machine is a great idea.

So, combo moves that incorporate both like walking lunges or a shoulder press with a chair squat are great for keeping your heart going and building lean muscle at the same time.

Now, all of that is very basic and general knowledge I've picked up, so for a custom routine that will fit your needs I would consult a personal trainer or someone who has a professional knowledge and can advise you what the best plan for your body is!

Feb 28, 2011 @ 12:43 pm
Trainer George

Cardio vs Weights

This is a common question that people ask me when they are trying to lose weight. In order to lose 1 pound of fat, a total of 3500 calories needs to be burned. So what is the most effective method of training to burn these calories? Cardio or weight training? I would recommend doing both cardio and weight training since 3500 calories is a large number, and you'll need assistance from both methods of training. Having a good nutritional plan and being active everyday is also important.
Calories burned with cardio compared to weight training can be compared individually with the Compendium of Physical Activities tracking guide. This guide lists numerous of exercises by energy expenditure. This is measured in METS, and the higher the METS, the more intense the exercise, and the more calories burned.

Weight lifting - vigorous ----------------------------------------------------- 6 METS
Circuit training (with aerobic movements, minimal rest) ------------- 8 METS
Walking (5 mph) ---------------------------------------------------------------- 8 METS
Running (12 min per mile) --------------------------------------------------- 8.7 METS
Running (11 min per mile) --------------------------------------------------- 9.4 METS
Sweeping garage, sidewalk or outside house -------------------------- 4 METS

If you were to compare cardio and weight training individually with the above listings, cardio burns more calories. However when an individual is weight training, they gain muscle and tone up. This muscle gain helps increase their metabolism, and the body begins to burn more calories everyday from doing nothing. Therefore I wouldn't rule out weight training as it is effective for burning calories short term and long term.
Nutrition is another component that should be considered when trying to lose weight, as it controls the caloric intake. Lastly, being active throughout the day (sweeping garage etc...) adds to burning calories (see chart).
Therefore, a successful weight loss program required a balance of cardio, weight training, nutrition and an active lifestyle.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me.
Mar 03, 2011 @ 01:06 pm

Thanks TG!

This is fantastic info, George. Thanks for posting it!
Mar 03, 2011 @ 01:45 pm

So simply put!

Thanks for setting us straight Trainer George.
3,500 is such a bigger number when you state it like that, but it takes such little effort to consume that many calories.
Mar 03, 2011 @ 02:06 pm
Trainer George

Cardio vs Weights

Yes, and since most people want to lose more than 1 pound in a week the number gets bigger. For example if you are looking to lose 2 pounds a week, the number doubles to 7000 calories. You are right Lauren Blair, it takes such little effort to consume calories, and soo much work to burn them.
Mar 07, 2011 @ 08:33 am

great info

Thanks for that! It's very interesting knowledge to have, and I like knowing that i'll need to burn 3500 calories to lose 1lb. Will definitely put things into perspective for me when i'm exercising as well as eating
Mar 05, 2013 @ 03:50 pm


This is very informative! Gives great perspective.
Mar 06, 2013 @ 03:02 pm


It really is depressing to see how much work you have to do to lose one lousy pound. On a good workout I maybe clock 400-500 calories depending on what I'm doing, so it would take an entire week to shave a pound.

Of course, that's why they say abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym...

Whatever. I'm focusing on building strength, and that I can see more noticeably than numbers on a scale or changes in my jean size. I'm happy to say I'm pretty close to my goal weight anyway so I needed a change of target.
Mar 06, 2013 @ 04:49 pm

Both :)

I definitely recommend doing both!
Mar 24, 2013 @ 04:03 pm

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