5 Reasons Why Lifting Is Better Than Cardio


Why is weight lifting better than cardio?

Here are 5 awesome reasons why weight lifting is better than cardio!

1.  Lifting Elevates Your Metabolism.

When you're lifting hard and heavy, you're going to have to rebuild damaged tissues.  This requires energy to build more muscle and repair those tissues.  Not to mention the EPOC, Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption will require a greater amount of oxygen to help assist with those changes, thus resulting in increased energy expenditure up to 24 hours later.

Cardio, doesn't do this.  You exercise with some slow and steady state cardio and burn off a certain number of calories.  And you're done.  It's just not stressful enough to the body to cause you to have to recover with excessive calories.

Unless you're a rank beginner and then pretty much everything is going to kick your butt!

2.  Cardio does not build muscle!

Cardiovascular work does not stimulate muscle mass enough to grow and get stronger.  In fact if you do too much cardio your body is going to burn off extra muscle tissue because it doesn't require a lot of muscle mass to get from Point A to Point B at a steady pace.

Your body is all about efficiency and if you can do a task at a lighter bodyweight easier, then it's going to cut away the dead weight, including muscle mass and fat.  So if you want to be a skinny fat version of yourself, keep doing endless amounts of cardio and no weight lifting.

3.  Lifting is Intense!

Weight lifting with enough intensity will always be a stress on the body which causes muscular adaptations!  This is what gets you the strength and muscle mass gains that we want to help improve our overall physiques.

And you can quickly change the intensity on a weight lifting exercise by either adjusting the load, volume, repetitions or time under tension in the same amount of time.

With cardio, you either have to run longer, increase the distance or run really, really fast.  Most people nowadays neither have the time nor the energy to perform longer time or distance sessions with their cardio.  And sprinting by yourself is just  not fun!  Unless you're with a group and racing a partner, now we're talking.

4.  Cardio has diminishing returns.

If you start off your exercise journey with cardio, you will notice a very easy transition between doing a couple jogs twice a week to jogging nearly everyday.

Your cardiovascular ability adapts rather quickly, where your lungs, heart rate and muscle mass become accustomed to running and performing bouts of steady state cardio.

Meaning if you started off with running twice a week, after about 2-3 weeks you should be able to add in another session rather easily.  But once you're running 5-6 day a week, where do you go from that?

You either have to do one of the options above.  Run faster.  Run farther.  Or run for a longer amount of time.  Oh, and stave off injury at the same time.  Studies on long distance runners show a huge increase in stress fractures and lower limb injuries with running over 4 days per week.

Say you mixed in those cardio sessions with some weight training 2-3 days a week.  You could still have your cardio fix and eat your cake too so to say?  I dunno, that's just me.

5.  Lifting Affects the Whole Body!

Lifting in appropriate manner stimulates the whole body.  You're going to be building up your muscle mass, improving your metabolism (or the way you burn and process calories), bone mineral density will get better, hormones will become better optimized for you (think enhanced testosterone and libido), and even some beneficial effects on the circulatory and nervous system.

Overall lifting is a more effective and complete whole body workout that challenges the body to become stronger, mentally tough and enhances physical performance.


I'm not telling anyone that cardio is garbage!  Cardio is great for health and longevity.  It should be included in everyone's fitness programming.  The facts though say that lifting is going to get you more bang for your buck.  It's easier to put into your schedule.  You can adjust the intensity to your level and enhance your bodies ability to adapt.  You beef up your metabolism so you can continue eating a good amount of food to fuel your workouts.  And it's just a more complete physical challenge!

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Jess Howland

Jesse "Captain Smash" Howland is the owner of SMASH’s Strength Lab, which offers targeted personal training to reach a variety of fitness and physique goals. A natural bodybuilder, competitive powerlifter, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach, Jesse is often the go-to resource for personal training Ottawa. He studied Exercise Science at Oregon State University and even trained at the world famous Gold's Gym. He's a former US Army Captain with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a former blog writer at Veterans Fitness Career College, and former Chief Executive Officer at U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). His workouts and personal training are army-inspired to help reach your weightloss, athletic, or physique goals.