When it comes to fat loss, most people focus on just one type of exercise – cardio or strength training. However, finding the right balance between cardio and strength training is key for optimal fat burning results. Here’s what you need to know.
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The Benefits of Cardio for Fat Loss
Cardiovascular exercise that gets your heart rate elevated, like running, cycling or HIIT workouts, is effective for burning calories and body fat. During cardio, your body taps into fat stores for fuel. The more intense the cardio, the more calories and fat you’ll burn. Cardio is especially effective for losing visceral fat – the dangerous belly fat that surrounds your organs. Adding just 30 minutes of moderate cardio daily can make a significant impact on overall and belly fat reduction over time.
However, doing only cardio and neglecting strength training can lead to loss of calorie-burning lean muscle mass. Since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat at rest, losing muscle can negatively impact your metabolism over time. This is why combining cardio and strength training is ideal.
The Benefits of Strength Training for Fat Loss
Lifting weights and strength training not only burns calories, but it builds metabolism-boosting lean muscle mass. The more lean muscle you have, the more calories and fat your body will burn on a daily basis. Studies show that doing full-body strength training 2-3 times per week can help boost resting metabolism while promoting fat loss, especially belly fat.
Another benefit of strength training is that it boosts afterburn, or EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). What this means is you’ll continue burning extra calories for 24-48 hours after your strength training workouts as your body repairs and strengthens your muscles. Talk about a metabolism boost!
Finding the Right Balance
Most experts recommend doing 20-40 minutes of moderate cardio 4-5 days per week combined with full-body strength training 2-3 days per week for optimal fat loss results. However, there is no one-size-fits-all formula. Finding the right cardio-to-strength balance depends on your fitness level, schedule, and personal preferences.
Here are some general cardio and strength training combo guidelines to follow:
Aim for 20-30 minutes of cardio 3 days a week plus 2 days of full-body strength training.
Try 30-45 minutes of cardio 4 days a week and strength training 3 days.
Build up to 30-60 minutes cardio 5 days a week with strength training 4-5 days.
Listen to your body and focus on consistency rather than intensity. Be sure to incorporate rest days as needed to allow your muscles some recovery time. Most importantly, choose activities you enjoy so you’ll stick to your routine long-term.
Additional Tips for Fat Loss Success
While exercise is critical, other lifestyle factors impact your ability to lose fat. Be sure to also focus on:
- Following a nutrition plan with a calorie deficit that focuses on whole, unprocessed foods that provide maximum nutrients within your target calorie range
- Try fat burning supplements, such as the linked pills available on Amazon
- Staying hydrated by drinking at least 64 ounces of water per day to allow your body’s systems to function properly and to reduce water retention
- Managing stress levels through relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or going for relaxing walks out in nature
- Getting enough sleep (at least 7 hours nightly) is essential for allowing your body adequate rest, recovering muscles, regulating hormones that impact weight, and boosting mental focus
Finding your personal sweet spot between cardio, strength training, and these other elements is key for long-term fat loss success. Be patient with yourself and keep fine-tuning your fitness routine until you find the right formula for burning fat while maintaining muscle. Consistency is key, so don’t get discouraged. With commitment to your exercise plan and healthy lifestyle, you’ll be on your way toward your fat loss goals.