Are Strength Workouts Better Than Cardio?

Mar 28, 2016 05:09 AM EDT | By Mark Jason Alcala

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New Zealand Commonwealth Games Weightlifting Team Announcement
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 12: Cody Cole of New Zealand poses for a portrait during the New Zealand Commonwealth Games Weightlifting Team Announcement at Functional Strength Gym on June 12, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand.
(Photo : Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

There used to be a time when cardio workouts ruled. Lately, however, a lot of gym goers have now a preference to do strength training over cardio. The reason? Turns out strength routines could burn those unwanted belly fats more efficiently and keep it that way.

Effective in the Long Term

Strength training seems to the more effective in keeping belly fat off in the long term. According to a Yahoo News article by Aleisha Fetters, a large-scale, long-term 2015 US obesity study done by Harvard researchers involving 10,500 males for 12 years found that those who did strength training gained less abdominal fat compared to those who did cardio routines. And the strength training group are considered healthier too since abdominal fat is a marker for overall health.

Burns Calories Faster

In addition, strength training burns calories faster making them more effective. The article cites a Journal of Sports Science & Medicine study found out that people who did a 20-minute strength workout burned an average of 15 calories a minute. For comparison, that would be twice the amount of calories burned by a cardio workout such as a long run.

Longer Afterburn Effect

Apparently, the advantage of strength training does not end there. According to an article in Bodybuilding by Shannon Clark, strength workouts has another advantage over cardio in the fat loss department, and that is the continued calorie burning effect even after the strength workout is completed. The body's metabolism is actually boosted for another 36 hours after a workout. For example, if one's ordinary activity such as watching TV consumes 60 calories an hour, the additional metabolism boost could add another 10 calories to that. When one multiplies the 10 calories by 36 hours, it becomes a whopping 360 calories being burned, a big deal by anybody's standard.

But Cardio Workout Is Still Necessary

While strength routines work better in fat reduction, cardio training also offer greater cardiovascular health benefits. A WebMD article by Siobhan Harris quotes fitness trainer, Galvin Walsh, saying, "Your heart and lungs will benefit immensely from consistent cardiovascular exercise."

The same article also cites fitness instructor Jane Simons when enumerated the numerous benefits of cardio, which include: improved circulation, increased bone density, improved sleep and reduced anxiety levels.

Combining Strength and Cardio

But probably the best reason not to totally eliminate cardio is that combining both strength and cardio routines offer the best result. A USNews article by Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., cites a study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise found that performing cardio exercises before strength training seem to be the most beneficial combination.

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