A study has shown that weight training is better than doing cardio for long term fat loss and muscle mass preservation.

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The amazing Dmitry Klokov

Weight Training Better Than Cardio: STUDY

weight training for fat loss
Weight training for fat loss: Arnie was no cardio bunny

A rigorous study of over 10,000 men shows that if you want to keep fat off and maintain muscle mass, strength training is a much better long-term option than running, cycling or other forms of aerobic exercise.

Although cardiovascular exercise will burn more calories in the short-term than weights-based exercise, strength training helps to retain muscle mass in the face of aging, which appears to be the crucial factor in this long-term study. After the age of 30, muscle mass gradually decreases, reducing the body’s basal metabolic rate – its basic daily energy need – thereby making it easier to put on weight as time passes. Cardiovascular exercise does little to build muscle, and in excess can actually lead to muscle loss.

The researchers used longitudinal data on more than 10,000 healthy men for a period between 1996 and 2008, charting how the men’s waist measurements had changed over those 12 years. All of the participants in the study were between 40 and 75 when the study first began.

“Because aging is associated with the loss of skeletal muscle mass, relying on body weight is insufficient for the study of healthy aging”, stated the lead author of the study. “Measuring waist circumference is a better indicator of healthy body composition among older adults.”

The men were divided up according to the amount of aerobic exercise they did, and then according to the amount of strength training they did.


The results clearly show that those who also did strength training saw a much greater decrease in relative waist circumference, with the result for those performing more than 25 minutes a day being especially striking. The relative waist circumference change was actually most for those who performed 25 minutes a day of strength training but did not adhere to the aerobic-exercise recommendations.

The evidence clearly shows that strength training offers greater protection against an increasing waist circumference than moderate or vigorous aerobic exercise.

Should I Give up Cardio?

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Unless you want to look like this, you shouldn’t go ham on cardio

Whether you choose to do cardio depends, of course, on your goals. If you want to be a Marine or a rugby player and one of the requirements is to be able to run a certain distance in a certain time, you’re going to have be able to meet that requirement, and cardiovascular training will probably be involved.

Likewise, if you just want to feel good and get a rush from the endorphins, that’s fine as well. But clearly cardio isn’t the only way to lose weight, and this study shows that it may actually be much less effective as a long-term strategy for staying in shape than doing regular strength training. 

Even though weight training should always be a priority, we have an article explaining why cardio is essential when trying to lose fat. If weight training is your primary focus, you should still throw in frequent cardio sessions to train the most important muscle in your body: your heart.

If weight training doesn’t quite cut it, here is the best form of cardio when attempting to lose fat.

Weight training and fat loss

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