Do you have to do cardio to lose weight?

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As it turns out you do not really need to do cardio to lose weight. So for shedding pounds it is really not necessary but it is still very important if you want to get your heart rate up.

Many people think that to lose weight you need to spend long hours on the treadmill or an elliptical trainer. Doing a lot of cardio can help with weight loss many experts agree but that it is not really necessary if your main goal is to lose fat. You can lose weight by just lifting weights.



However, this does not mean cardio should not be part of your program. Here are some reasons you might want to prioritize strength training if slimming up is on your to do list.

Here is why Dedicated Cardio Sessions is not needed to lose weight contrary to popular opinion cardio is actually one of the least effective fitness modalities for weight loss. This is because you lose weight when you burn more calories than you eat. Strength training is much more efficient at doing this than doing cardiovascular exercise.

There is a simple explanation for this. Strength training will actually make permanent changes to your body composition. Resistance training is the key to building more muscle. Building muscle will increase your metabolism which will help you burn additional calories. The more calories we burn on a daily basis the easier it is to lose weight. In a nutshell if if you want to lose weight building muscle is a very good thing. See the science here on building muscle and burning fat.



Resistance training when done in a circuit will burn additional calories compared to doing conventional cardio, especially if done with compound movements like deadlifts, squats and push presses. The reason is that when more joints are involved in a movement then more muscles will need to be recruited to execute them. Of course this means more calories to be burned.

The “afterburn” effect

Keep in the mind the “afterburn” effect that comes along with higher-intensity resistance training. If you are only doing basic cardio you are working at an aerobic pace and will only be burning calories for the amount of time that you are working out. If you do high intensity resistance training you will continue to burn calories for the entire day. Now this is great but remember that you also need to watch the kinds and amounts of foods you are eating. If you have a balanced nutrition plan and a balanced strength based workout routine then you should start to see the weight loss changes you are looking for. Even though cardio is not necessary for weight loss, there are many benefits to doing cardio.

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous cardiovascular exercise per week getting your heart rate up is crucial for keeping your heart healthy.

Benefits of Strength Training

Strength training, when done strategically, can definitely get your heart rate high enough to count as vigorous cardiovascular exercise. Compound movements are a great way to get your heart rate up while doing strength training. By minimizing the rest you take between sets, you can maximize the cardiovascular benefits of strength training. Fitness pros recommend balancing strength and cardio training if you’re trying to lose weight. Cardio should only be done on off days, if you’re lifting four times a week. This allows your muscles the proper recovery time. To ensure you’re getting the recommended amount of cardio without ever stepping foot on a treadmill, weight train in circuits. Move from one exercise to the next in swift succession to keep your heart rate up.

strength training is the key to flexibility, mobility and improved performance




Add a HIIT interval into every circuit to get extra intensity.

Incorporate weights and resistance that challenge you for your last few reps. Weights should never be easy to move for 15+ reps. Resistance is necessary to make change happen. If you’re training for a specific sporting event, you will need to do dedicated cardio workouts. However, if your goal is general fitness and not a specific event, then any cardiovascular exercise will suffice. Always listen to your body and be aware of overtraining – too much cardio can actually be counterproductive.


The idea is to focus most of your effort on shorter resistance-based workouts over long bouts of cardio. Shorter, high-intensity workouts are more effective for overall fitness and health. Check out this Dumbbell cardio workout to try this type of training.