Should I just do cardio when trying to lose body fat? - FBL

Should I just do cardio when trying to lose body fat?

Many women believe that cardio is the best way to lose fat, while weight training is often overlooked or even avoided due to concerns about bulking up. However, weight training can be just as effective, if not more so, for fat loss and overall fitness. Let’s explore why weight training is an essential component of a fat loss program and why it might even be better than cardio alone.

Understanding Fat Loss

Fat loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume, creating a calorie deficit. Both cardio and weight training can help achieve this, but they do so in different ways.

Calorie Burn During Exercise

Cardio exercises, such as running, cycling, and swimming, are known for burning a significant number of calories during the activity itself. For example, a 30-minute run can burn around 300-400 calories depending on intensity and individual body weight. This immediate calorie burn is one reason cardio is popular for fat loss.

Post-Exercise Calorie Burn

However, weight training has a unique advantage known as the “afterburn effect” or excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). After a weight training session, your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate for hours, and sometimes even days, as it works to repair and build muscle. This prolonged calorie burn can significantly contribute to a calorie deficit and fat loss over time.

Building Muscle and Metabolism

One of the key benefits of weight training is its ability to build lean muscle mass. Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest compared to fat tissue. Therefore, the more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate (RMR). This means you’ll burn more calories throughout the day, even when you’re not exercising. This increase in RMR can make weight training a powerful tool for long-term fat loss.

Body Composition

Weight training not only helps with fat loss but also improves body composition. While cardio can help you lose weight, it doesn’t differentiate between fat and muscle. This can sometimes lead to a decrease in muscle mass along with fat loss, potentially leading to a “skinny fat” appearance. Weight training, on the other hand, helps preserve and build muscle while you lose fat, leading to a toned and defined physique.

Health Benefits Beyond Fat Loss

Weight training offers numerous health benefits beyond fat loss. It improves bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, especially important for women as they age. It also enhances functional strength, making daily activities easier and reducing the risk of injury. Additionally, weight training can improve posture, boost mood, and increase overall physical resilience.

Practical Approach

For optimal fat loss, a combination of both cardio and weight training is often recommended. Cardio exercises can help create a calorie deficit and improve cardiovascular health, while weight training builds muscle, boosts metabolism, and improves body composition.

Here’s a balanced approach to include both in your fitness routine:

  • Strength Training: Aim for at least 2-3 sessions per week, focusing on all major muscle groups. Use a mix of weights, resistance bands, and bodyweight exercises.
  • Cardio: Include 2-3 cardio sessions per week, varying the intensity and type to keep things interesting and challenging. Don’t only run, walk, cycle or swim, you can do all of these things in your week to give yourself the most enjoyment as well as benefit the most.
  • Rest and Recovery: Ensure you have adequate rest days to allow your muscles to recover and prevent overtraining.


While cardio is effective for burning calories during exercise, weight training offers unique benefits that can enhance fat loss and improve overall fitness. The combination of immediate calorie burn from cardio and the long-term metabolic boost from weight training creates a powerful fat loss strategy. Incorporating both into your routine, along with a balanced diet, will help you achieve the best results. Weight training not only helps you lose fat but also builds a strong, toned body, boosts metabolism, and supports long-term health.

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