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Cardio vs Strength / Resistance Training

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Cardio vs Strength / Resistance Training

Where is my time best spent if I’m trying to lose weight?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions I get from clients starting their fitness journey and is one of the most debated in the health and fitness community. We take a look at the benefits of both.

All too often, I see and hear about people smashing themselves on the cardio machines in an effort to lose weight, yet who are generally scared of picking up dumbbells for fear of getting bulky.  

In reality, we need to come to terms with the difference between weight loss and fat loss and how to use both cardio and weight training to achieve the right weight outcome.

By way of comparison, we take two individuals of the same age, gender and weight. Individual (A) has more body fat and less muscle than (B), who has more lean muscle and less overall body fat. Individual (A) will inevitably appear bigger than (B) despite their weight being the same. This is simply because muscle is denser and metabolically active and takes up less total volume than body fat. Furthermore, individual (A) has a lower metabolic rate (due to lower lean muscle mass) and will be more susceptible to weight gain when diet and activity levels change.

We always question weight being the ultimate objective rather than size. While weight is easily measured, lean muscle and low body fat should be the end game and will always result in a smaller more toned body than weight loss achieved through muscle breakdown.

So what works best for increasing muscle and reducing fat? Strength and resistance training or cardio?


  • Reduces risk of heart and vascular diseases by lowering blood pressure and improving cholesterol.
  • Increases insulin sensitivity and helps control weight, reducing risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Studies have also shown a reduction in risk of Alzheimer’s disease and colon, prostate and breast cancers
  • Either slow, long sessions or fast, intense bouts of cardio can burn fat stores for energy, reducing overall body fat


  • Reduces the risk of heart disease.
  • Also increases insulin sensitivity and helps control weight, reducing risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Reduces risk of Osteoporosis.
  • Increases full body strength, resilience and protects you against injury
  • Resistance training builds lean muscle. As opposed to fat, muscle is metabolically active. So the more lean muscle mass you have, the better your metabolism. You’ll be burning more calories well past the completion of your workout.
  • The correct resistance level for strength training will not make you ‘big’ or ‘bulky.’

The answer?

Getting lean and keeping the fat off is the end game, rather than watching the number on the scale go down.  For the majority of our clients, the best strategy is to include cardio to maximise fat burning while also integrating strength and resistance training to build muscle tone and keep the fat off for good. 

If you’re still not sure about the best approach for you, click the ‘Request More Information’ button on our website to be put in contact with one of our expert personal trainers.  We can work with you to determine the precise mix to suit your current situation and your health and fitness objectives.

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