When fat loss is the goal, many people jump to doing more cardio and reduce the amount of strength training in their routine. This post is a reminder that shows why replacing strength training with tons of cardio is not always a good idea.
Aerobic training has several benefits. But these benefits are primarily related to your general health and endurance performance [1]. When it comes to losing fat, just doing more cardio typically isn't enough. Multiple studies show that cardio by itself doesn't burn enough calories to put you in a significant calorie deficit for fat loss [2, 3].
Even if you try to do a ton of cardio, there's research indicating that spontaneous activity throughout the day (NEAT) decreases as a compensatory response to the high-calorie burn [4]. So, dialing in your nutrition and somewhat restricting calorie intake is necessary and the foundation of your fat loss phase [5]. Additional cardio can help, but it should be seen as a tool you use to increase energy expenditure, which helps you greater a larger calorie deficit.
For those seeking to look leaner and more muscular after a fat loss phase, it's important to keep strength training as your main form of exercise. Lifting weights helps you maintain muscle while losing body fat [6]. Check the last slide of this post for a hierarchy of importance to keep in mind during your fat loss phase.
1. Effects of Exercise Training on Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Biomarkers of Cardiometabolic Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
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3. Why do individuals not lose more weight from an exercise intervention at a defined dose? An energy balance analysis
4. Central neural and endocrine mechanisms of non-exercise activity thermogenesis and their potential impact on obesity - PubMed
5. Fat loss depends on energy deficit only, independently of the method for weight loss - PubMed
6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28507015