Should You Prioritize Weight Lifting or Cardio?

We’re edging closer to summer, which is often a cue for people to start panicking about bathing suit season. As more and more folks start thinking about “getting fit,” you can almost see the thought form in their head – should they prioritize weight lifting or cardio? Truthfully, it depends on your goal. If that goal is to lose weight (more specifically, to lose body fat), then weight lifting should be the focus. Here’s why.


We are proponents of weight lifting for many, many reasons, which we write about often. From a calorie-burning standpoint, cardio usually burn more calories than strength training in a minute-by-minute comparison. But that cardio session isn’t doing your muscles any favors. A Penn State study tracked dieters’ weight loss and found that of the 21 pounds lost per person during the length of the study, six pounds came from muscle loss in the cardio-only group. On the weightlifting side, all 21 pounds shed came from fat loss. 

Strength training is the hands-down best way to build muscle. And forget the minute-per-minute comparison. Carrying more muscle means burning more calories throughout the day. In fact, for every three pounds of muscle you gain, you’ll burn an extra 120 calories every day – and that’s without working harder.


Cardio still plays an important role in building a healthy, strong body. But forget the endless, steady state cardio – there are much better options. Cardio can be a wonderful stress reliever, and other benefits include:

  • Improving your heart health
  • Boosting your metabolism
  • Improving hormone balance by releasing endorphins
  • Improving the body’s ability to recover

Still, weight lifting can offer many of these benefits too – and more. If you’re short on time, you’re likely better off with an effective strength training routine. And if you’re interested in getting started, but unclear about where to begin, let us help. No matter your age or current fitness level, it’s never too late to start. To make the most of your workouts – with the perfect balance of weights and cardio – consider a personal trainer. The trainers here at Framework Personal Training in Reno can help you reach your fitness goals safely and effectively in our private, by-appointment gym. Schedule a free consultation today.

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