"Cardio" or Strength Training for Fat Loss?

I don't think it will come as a huge galloping shock to anyone that the answer is... both. Actually, more accurately I should say a combination of both. 

This article in the NSCA's Strength and Conditioning Journal addresses the short-term and long-term benefits of both aerobic training and resistance training.

In short, Aerobic training burns more calories during a workout, but the metabolism slows shortly after your workout is over. Conversely, resistance training burns less total calories during a workout, but continues the "burn" for up to 24 hours after you are done pumping iron. 

"So you're saying...?" The author sums it up nicely by saying:

"Strength and conditioning professionals should prescribe a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance exercise for directly burning calories and for indirectly burning calories and maintaining lean body mass, respectively. "

Furthermore, in a recent article in US News and World Report, the author also also reminds us that we have three energy systems, not just two.

Without going into a Physiology 101 lecture think of it this way:

  • Anaerobic (ATP-CP) System- (Weightlifting, 100m dash, Shot Put)
  • Glycolytic System- (HIIT, 400m dash, Bootcamps/CrossFit)
  • Aerobic System- (Jogging, Cycling, Marathon)

Training all three energy systems may just be the best recipe for overall fitness, including fat loss.  So if your training currently only includes one of these types of training you may want to consider adding in one or both of the other modalities to enhance your overall fitness gains.

I like pasta. (...thought you may just want to know that) When it comes to training multiple energy systems think of it this way; Spaghetti noodles, pesto sauce, or parmesan cheese by themselves are not very appealing. However, put them together... You get the point.