Cardio or strength training: what should I do if I want to lose weight?

Cardio or strength training

With fitness training you burn more calories. But with strength training you increase your basic energy expenditure. What works best if you want to lose weight? And why not combine them both? 

The principle of losing weight

You lose weight if you burn more calories than you take in. Your calorie intake is determined by your diet – by what you eat and drink. It is important to eat a balanced, varied and high-protein diet. To lose weight healthily, an average calorie deficit of 300 to a maximum of 500 kcal is recommended.

You can increase your calorie consumption through training and physical activities in your daily life. Cardio or strength training ? One swears by cardio, the other finds strength training the most effective.

Lose weight with cardio training

Cardio training can be a real calorie killer . But exactly how many calories you burn depends on your body weight and the intensity of your training.

The best-known fitness sports are running , cycling , walking and swimming . And in the gym you can train your fitness for example on the cross trainer , exercise bike , treadmill , rowing machine or stepper .

Low to moderate exercise intensity – duration method  

The fat burning heart rate : train for at least 20 consecutive minutes at a heart rate of 110-130 beats per minute. In this case, the energy is mainly supplied by fats. However, your calorie consumption is not as high as with an interval method.

High training intensity: interval method

One way to increase your calorie expenditure is to do interval training. Here you alternate periods of high intensity with recovery periods. By alternating between intensive training and recovery, your body continues to burn calories after the training session. This is also called the afterburning effect  .

It only takes 15 minutes to get your metabolism going. The duration of the individual periods depends on your condition.

Does cardio make you “skinny-fat”?

Many women try to achieve their dream figure with fitness training. If you try to lose weight with the help of fitness training, you will also lose muscle tissue. The result: you look slim, but have lost all curves and yet your body feels soft. You become skinny fat .

The most important things at a glance:

  • With cardio training you can lose a lot of weight quickly.

  • The more intensively you train, the more you burn.

  • With the interval method you burn more calories than with endurance training.

  • By focusing purely on fitness training, you can lose muscle tissue and there is the chance of becoming a skinny fat.

Losing weight with strength training

Build muscle for weight loss? At first you may think that strength training is not going to help you lose weight. With a training session with weights you also don’t burn as much as during a workout on the treadmill, for example.

But muscles are real calorie eaters . The more muscles you have, the higher your basic energy expenditure . You can eat more without gaining weight. It will also make losing weight easier.

And muscles also give your body a nice shape. They strengthen your connective tissue and your body becomes tighter.

The most important things at a glance

  • Strength training makes you tighter and gives your body shape.

  • If you have more muscle, you also burn more fat.

  • You can eat more and still lose weight.

Combining cardio and strength training: how?

It is said that you should not do both training forms immediately after each other. The results are better when your body has time to recover.

Don’t have enough time to alternate strength and cardio training? The correct sequence depends on the center of gravity of your training and what you enjoy more.

We recommend that you do the strength training before the cardio training . If you use heavy weights, you have more concentration and you work a lot more effectively when you are still full of energy. This way you also limit the risk of injuries .

After the strength training you can do a moderate fitness training. Your energy supply is now empty and your body will now start working on your fat reserves .

Train cardio and strength in 20 minutes? Then try a HIIT workout . You divide your strength training over different intervals. And you adjust your effort and breaks to your training condition. Thanks to the short breaks you train your fitness in a very effective way. Tip: choose exercises that you have already mastered to avoid mistakes.

The most important things at a glance

  • Do strength training first and then continue with fitness training.

  • With a HIIT workout you train strength and fitness at the same time.


  • You can lose weight with both cardio and strength training.
  • With fitness training you burn more calories per training session.
  • If you only do fitness training, you can become skinny-fat.
  • Strength training ensures a higher basic energy consumption. You consume more calories for a long time!
  • Cardio or strength? It’s about the right combination. Combine both training forms for the best result.

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