Cardio Vs strength training

Has anyone had success with weight loss with a heavier lean on cardio and minimal to no strength training?


  • Sinisterbarbie1
    Sinisterbarbie1 Posts: 712 Member
    Totally agree with the above. I have lost most if not all of the 50+ lbs of weight i’ve shed on managing the calories in side of the equation properly. That can be done without any exercise whatsoever but the benefit of exercise is ensuring you maintain bone strength and muscle mass. I generally rely on things like hiking/walking, aerobic exercises involving water, pilates, and lifestyle stuff like gardening, housework, and eldercare to get my exercise. These are all weight bearing exercises where my own body weight and the weight of water or use of springs on pilates equipment get me what I need strength wise.

    A sidenote: From earlier personal experience I have found that I gained weight when training for marathons btw. Whether I let up on calculating calories and rewarded myself too much, or thought I needed too much energy for training (you don’t need all those gels and sugary drinks for the most part even on longish runs) or I miscalculated burn rates or just felt tired and craved more food as a result, IDK but calories in count a lot!!
  • hesn92
    hesn92 Posts: 5,967 Member
    You need to be using more energy than you're taking in to lose weight, you don't necessarily need ANY exercise to do that. Strength training has many benefits, "burning calories" isnt realy one of them
  • corinasue1143
    corinasue1143 Posts: 7,467 Member
    Yes. I once lost 40 pounds (post baby weight) just walking while my then husband and 2 year old ate supper and watched the baby. By the time I cleaned the 2-year old and the kitchen, I was too tired and turned off by the mess to eat much supper. That’s all I did.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,867 Member
    Has anyone had success with weight loss with a heavier lean on cardio and minimal to no strength training?

    I think it's highly beneficial to start thinking about these things outside of the weight loss box and start thinking in terms of overall health. Ideally, one would want to meet the minimum criteria for general health and well-being set forth by the AHA and other health bodies of 150 minutes of light to moderate cardiovascular exercise for cardiovascular health and 2x per week full body resistance training to preserve muscle mass and bone density and maintain functional strength. Beyond that, more specific fitness goals would be your guide.

    People lose weight with only cardio or only resistance training or a combination of the two or neither. To lose weight you just have to be in a calorie deficit. Regular exercise can add to that and/or allow you to eat more while still accomplishing your same weight loss goals, but in general, for most people, the energy expenditure required for regular exercise is a pretty small piece of one's calorie requirement pie. There are numerous health benefits for both cardiovascular exercise and resistance training beyond the scale. One major downside to losing weight without doing some form of resistance training is loss of muscle mass. Muscle is energy expensive and a use it or lose it kind of thing. When you restricting energy, your body is going to do things to also conserve energy...and if you're not using something energy expensive like muscle mass there isn't any reason for your body to hold onto it in a catabolic state.

    My exercise is variable throughout the year. I spent a good 5-6 years pretty heavy into endurance cycling and participating in endurance cycling events which required me to spend a significant amount of time training my cardiovascular system. During cycling season, most of my exercise was cardiovascular with typically 1x per week strength training, due in large part to time constraints as well as recovery time. During the offseason that would change to spending significantly more time strength training and less time on the bike. I'm slated for my first triathlon in August and currently training for that, which again there is a big emphasis on cardiovascular exercise with swim, bike, run and I'm only strength training once per week to be able to fit all of my other training into my schedule. Come September my cardio work will drop to about 3x per week and strength training will go up to 3x per week which will continue through until my next training season starts.
  • pcrozier99
    pcrozier99 Posts: 35 Member
    Sure. As long as you are in calorie deficit you will lose weight whether you do cardio, strength or no exercise at all. However, if you want to minimize muscle loss and help guard against regaining the weight due to a much lowered BMR, you will want to do your fair share of strength training to keep as much muscle mass as possible. .
  • Xellercin
    Xellercin Posts: 924 Member
    I barely exercised at all when I lost from obese to healthy weight.

    I've always primarily lost weight through modifying my eating, not by doing more exercise than I enjoy.
  • gpanda103
    gpanda103 Posts: 189 Member
    Ideally you should do a mix of both. The lower muscle mass you have, the higher your body fat is, which is objectively not a good thing (to a certain extent). IMO cardio should be used as a way to maintain overall health and conditioning rather than something to just burn calories. They end up going hand in hand. Consistent cardio will make your heart stronger, so you can perform better at resistance training.
  • mrmota70
    mrmota70 Posts: 528 Member
    edited May 2022
    Myself personally have become and continue to work on a healthier me by leaning more towards cardio to complement my caloric choices and overall intake. As some have stated it’s a matter of adjustment of how much you take in that you’ll benefit over time as weight loss is one of your goals, but you should not let a # on the scale dictate success. Health and being healthy to exercise should be a big part of your lifestyle. Especially as you’ll sometimes loose weight in form of water, fat and yes a certain amount of muscle that with some strength training will help minimize it and have the additional associated benefits. Sure we all can over indulge and gain some, but it’s all part of life. You can’t toss out all your efforts because you gained. Just do better to find/continue what works. Remember muscle has weight and while the scale may not move down all the time, fast enough, or even go up even with cardio you may add some lean muscle. I do plan on adding some more weight muscle with strength training, but cardio in particular running is my thing. I loved it throughout my 20s and now over 50 I realize how much I miss it and all the time I let go by. So I get the benefit and the high of getting on occasion a PB on a run. Just take it easy find your rhythm and make it common place like brushing your teeth to keep working on your health lifestyle.
  • ChickenKillerPuppy
    ChickenKillerPuppy Posts: 297 Member
    I will say I always trended towards cardio for weight loss because I wanted those burned calories to count! But I listened to a podcast with a professor from Harvard school of health who said the number one thing he would recommend for weight loss is strength training, because if you build your muscles they will take more calories to maintain, so strength training can burn more calories in the long haul.

    As I get older, I appreciate the value that both cardio and strength bring to my overall well-being. Cardio is good for my blood pressure and for stress relief. Strength building is good for my bones and helps me burn more calories even is a resting state. For the first time in my life I started balancing the two. I do barre classes for strength because I like it and I will stick with it, and I run for cardio. Several years ago I would have only done the cardio, but I am much more balanced and happier with the balance between the two.
  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 48,682 Member
    You can lose weight with neither. All you need is a calorie deficit. But what kind of weight are you losing? Muscle weight? The scale can't determine WHAT weight you lose. Water, fat, can all be lost just on diet alone.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
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    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition