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Which is Better For Burning Fat, Weight Training or Cardio?

Aug 17, 2007
I recently received a letter from one of my readers:

"Dear Jon,

"You've written that you believe cardio is 'overrated' and that training with weights is better for fat loss.

"This seems to run contrary to what Tom Venuto says in his book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle, and what a lot of other experts in the field say, but I cannot help but listen, especially given your results and the results of everyone else in this book.

"Thanks

"- Joseph Surelli; New York, NY

"P.S. I should mention that I've already 'discarded' (I'm using your terms and they work) over 40 pounds of fat in six months, however I do more cardio than you do."

Joseph, my man, you are rockin! Great results...and they are very similar to a lot of emails I receive on a daily basis. Okay, on to your question.

Yes, I did say that, or rather something 'close' to that. Here is my official, 'take this to the courts' stance on how best to shed body fat for good, and this does not require you to be 21, belong to a fancy gym, or heaven forbid do hours of spin classes.

Your meals come before exercise, it's "Mind, Meals, Muscle, then Motion...in that order." So, unless you have your nutrition on the mark, forget shedding fat. It won't happen.

What meal plan? My advice is to start with a balanced meal plan, or "isocaloric", in which you obtain roughly 1/3 of your calories from protein, 1/3 from carbs (low-glycemic and non- sugar-based carbs) and 1/3 from fats (both mono and saturated fats...yes, saturated.)

Divide your calories by 6 (a good start would be 12x your body weight for discarding fat) and prep each meal around this figure and these macro ratios.

Muscle is next...not cardio, but muscle. Why? Muscle burns calories 24/7. Nothing else can come close. Train with weights, or train with "any" form of progressive resistance (in-home training is fine. The bottom line is to train, and do so in a progressive fashion. Build muscle, even a few pounds, and it will help serve your metabolic needs in the long run...plus it will make your body curvy, sexy and "toned" (although I don't care for that term.)

You mentioned Tom Venuto. Interestingly enough, he and I did a recorded interview just last night on this subject, and even he (the StairMaster Master) agrees that weights are superior to cardio in post-exercise metabolic response. In short, your metabolism will stay elevated longer after weight training than any other form of exercise.

Finally, there's Motion...in this sense, I'm referring only to cardiovascular work. Yes, it is overrated, but certainly not useless. In fact, it's critical at times. What I meant by that statement is that most people ONLY do cardio while trying to burn body fat, and that's just a plan for disaster. Without meals and muscle, cardio is a wash for shedding fat, but can still be an excellent means of exercising the heart.

Weight training rules when it comes to overall health and fat shedding benefits if done correctly.
About the Author
Jon Benson is a nutrition and fitness counselor who specializes in weight loss and life coaching. He is the creator of The Fit Over 40 Role Modeling System, and the author of "Fit Over 40". More information on fitness is available at http://www.fitover40.com.
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