Weights vs. Cardio: What is the BEST Way to Burn Fat?

Today, we’re talking about quite possible THE biggest question in all of fitness: what is the best way to burn fat?  We can quickly write off any of those “Lose Weight Fast!” late-night infomericals, any magic pill, potion, or electro machine you suction to your love handles in hopes of magically watching them disappear before your eyes.

We’re really focused on the two major formats of exercise; cardio or weights.  There’s long been discussion about which of these two formats is the best way to help you shed that excess body fat, and today, we’re going to take a look at both and give you our definitive answer on which is the right choice to burn your fat away the fastest.

I’m going to start with the obvious.  Cardio has long-held the throne as fat burning king…and perhaps for good reason.  There’s no question a serious cardio session is going to burn loads of calories.  As our own workouts attest, an uptempo cardio session done at the appropriate intensity can easily help you burn 800 or more calories in a single workout session.  And as we know, the (very oversimplified) fundamentals of weight loss are burn more calories, lose more weight.  So from this stand point, cardio is going to help you burn more calories and thus, should help you lose excess weight fastest.  Not so fast, there’s more to consider.

The calories we burn in the gym, are only part of the game plan for burning excess body fat.  The other 23 or so hours we’re NOT working out still count for something, don’t they?  We want those non-gym hours to be maximized in our fight against fat.  This means, we want to maximize the rate at which our body burns calories when we’re at rest.  In other words, we want to boost our metabolic rate.  For those of you who are active readers of the blog, this should set off some bells in your head as I’m always talking about bumping the metabolic rate to burn fat faster.

As studies show, bumping the metabolic rate is accomplished by adding lean muscle mass to the frame.  It’s a positive feedback cycle; add more muscle, increase your metabolic rate, burn more fat.  While a standard weight lifting session won’t burn nearly as many calories as an uptempo cardio session, the long-term payouts are likely going to be greater.  Chalk this up as a strong point for weight lifting in the fight against fat.

That said, we cannot get away from the basics completely.  Ultimately, we want to burn a higher number of calories to shed that excess body fat.  There’s no denying the effects of multiple high-tempo calorie blasting cardio workouts.  For example, when Michael Phelps is training at peak intensity, he’s consuming nearly 8,000 calories a day because his pure cardio training is causing him to burn so many calories. If he didn’t keep up that diet, he’d be dropping weight far too quickly to perform at peak intensity.  For this reason we cannot completely shun cardio and rely strictly on weight lifting for peak fat loss.

The key, and the answer to the question “what is the best way to burn fat?” is combination workouts.  Combination workouts rely heavily on weight lifting, albeit at an uptempo pace.  Metabolic training, circuit training, weighted Tabata training….these are all forms of combination workouts.  They combine fatigue-inducing weight training with cardiovascular elements.  The result is massive calorie burn and fat loss during the workout, as well as added muscle mass and a spike metabolism.

Personally, I’d supplement two to three of these combination workouts a week with one or even two traditional heavyweight lifting sessions using compound lifts like bench press, squats, clean and press, etc.

By combining forces, you’re going to realize the greatest gains and burn through the greatest amount of fat.  Keep in mind, I’m not telling you to alternate pure cardio with pure weight lifting days…that stuff is for amateurs.  I’m telling you to combine both formats to build the ultimate workout program.

With that in mind, I’m currently in the process of putting the finishing touches on the Share It Fitness 90 Day TORCHED Workout Program.  This program is going to focus on eliminating the stubborn, hard to burn areas of fat that a lot of us are dealing with.  The workouts will primarily rely on the training methods described above, along with intermittent uptempo yoga sessions to increase flexibility and help sculpt that long and lean physique.  Basically, it’s going to be one of the best workout programs we’ve developed to date and we’re super excited to share it with you guys.

Stay tuned over the next week and get ready to TORCH that fat with our latest 90 day training program.  In the meantime, if you’ve got any questions about anything discussed in today’s blog post, leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to get back to you.