Last Updated on August 15, 2016 by Michael Brockbank
Here’s a debate I see a lot of both online and off. When it comes to calorie burn, there is more involved than simply exercising or lifting weights. It may be difficult to say which one is better for those looking to lose weight. The primary factor is going to be your own personal physiology. Since everyone is built different, the answer to what burns more is going to change. Let me explain…
How the Body Burns Calories
Your body is burning calories even as you sit and read this article. For example, I’ll go through eight calories every five minutes sitting still, which my heart rate determines. That’s 1.6 calories every minute. This means it would take me more than 4 hours to burn the calories consumed by a cupcake from Walmart if I just sit here watching TV. This is because I am pushing 260+ pounds at the moment. Someone who is smaller framed and weighs less may be burning fewer. When I drop 90 pounds for my goal, I’ll be burning less calories as well.
One of the biggest impacts to calorie burn is the heart rate. The faster your heart pumps blood to other body parts, the more calories you’ll burn. This is part of the science that goes into saunas and hot tubs. Heat increases your heart rate. It’s also quite therapeutic.
The more energy you burn, the faster your heart beats. This is to supply the body with everything it needs, such as oxygen. To burn more calories, you need to keep yourself in motion. This movement is created whether you’re exercising or lifting weights. The difference between the two is the actual activity itself. For instance, you may get far more movement during aerobics. As a result, you’ll disintegrate more fats and calories.
Cardio is short for cardiovascular. It focuses on elevated heart rates. It’s all about getting your pulse to go past 110 beats per minute. But like I said, everyone is different. Your fat-burn zone is more than likely different than mine. However, one absolute remains: you burn more calories as you get the heart to go faster.
What Is Better for Weight Loss? Exercises or Lifting Weights?
I am going to use myself as an example for determining calorie burn. I am fat, out of shape and not looking to bulk up. However, I do want to increase my strength and endurance. Mixing a workout between movement and lifting weights can develop my body overall to lose weight and build that strength. So, let’s take a close look at how much I burn at 260 pounds.
Cardio Exercise Burn/Minute: 11.39 calories
Most of my cardio consists of playing the XBox Kinect. For this example, I’m going to use “Kinect Sports Season 2: Tennis.” I wear 1.5 pound weighted gloves while I play, which increases the calorie burn by as much as 25 percent or more- that’s another article I plan on writing soon. Anyway, you can see that I burn quite a few calories per minute. It will also depend on how active you are during the exercise. The more you move, the more you’ll burn. Dancing like an idiot in front of the Xbox while playing will definitely cause you to consume more calories across your entire body.
Weight Training Burn/Minute: 6.48 calories
Lifting weights focuses more on building muscle mass than burning fat. Although you’ll still get rid of calories and carbs by converting them into energy for the muscles, it’s more about creating density and power. For this experiment, I did basic dumbbell exercises using the 10-pound weights I have at home. I had very few breaks in between sets and pushed myself to physical exhaustion. As you can see, I burn nearly twice the number of calories playing the Xbox. However, I don’t get the more intense muscle development. This is based on 17 minute sessions lifting 3,000 pounds total each time.
It’s also important to note that if I increased the weights to 15 pounds doing the exact same workout in the same amount of time, I would burn more calories.
This is part of the reason why you can see fat guys lifting small cars. They center around pure strength as opposed to calorie burn. Although there is a ton of muscle attached to the skeletal structure, there could also be a tone of fat covering it. Cardio activity is what melts a large amount of this fat from your frame.
What Does This All Mean?
As long as you can get your pulse rate to climb while weight training, you can get rid of quite a few calories. Keep in mind that it’s not necessarily centered around the amount of weight you lift, but the activity of lifting it. The three important factors you need to consider are: a) time, b) repetitions, c) the amount of weight you’re lifting.
If you’re simply looking to lose weight, cardio may be the better option. However, I find that mixing it up with strength training makes everything else in my life easier to manage.
A lot of people get confused when they think about fitness and working out. What works best for you will depend on what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Although you can burn more calories and fat doing aerobics, strength training can have its rewards as well. Do you want to slim down, bulk up, or have a mixture of both?