The Best Workout to Lose Weight: Cardio vs Strength Training for Women

Fitness Tips, Sweat

Slimming down is a tough game. Improving your nutrition is one way to start to shed some pounds, but you also have to make sure that you’re working out properly. So, what is the best workout to lose weight? You might have tried all of the exercise fads before now, but what you really need is a routine on which you can rely. With that in mind, let’s take a look at training options that you might want to try for yourself.

Which is the Best Workout to Lose Weight?

Woman doing kettle bell strength training exercises at the gym

If you’re trying to get into shape, finding the correct regime for your lifestyle and fitness level is essential. Looking for the best workout to lose weight fast? There are two main styles of routine that you might want to consider. Let’s take a look at cardio vs strength training so that you understand what each has to offer.

Cardio training

Put simply, cardio training (or aerobic training) is any type of movement or exercise that raises your heart rate above resting level. Some of the most common forms of this exercise include running, cycling, and skipping. However, you can interpret this type of workout in a variety of exciting ways, including trying ice skating, dancing, and more.

Did you know that cardio workouts could help you to suppress your appetite and avoid overeating?[1]

Strength training

Combining resistance moves and weight lifting, strength training focuses mainly on toning and shaping your muscles. You can either use your own weight as resistance, as you would in push-ups, or use free weights during your exercises. If you’re looking to tone up and lose some weight, including these types of exercises in your regular regime is smart.

Fun Fact: Weight training for less than an hour a day could decrease your chance of heart attacks by 40 to 70%.[2]

Strength Training for Women: Pros and Cons

Pros of strength training

1. Boosts metabolism and reduces fat

Woman lifting weights at the gym

Weight lifting might be the best workout to lose weight. This type of training helps to build type II muscle fibers, according to animal research from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM).[3] The research linked weight loss and gain with strength training too.

2. Good for your heart

Woman doing TRX strength training at the gym

Research from the Iowa State University found that engaging in strength training for between one minute and one hour per day could decrease your chances of suffering a heart attack by between 40 and 70%.[4] That means that dedicating at least a small portion of your daily workout could help to boost your cardiovascular health in a serious way.

3. Helps to preserve muscle mass

Woman using weights for strength training at the gym

Research from Wake Forest University found that strength training may help to preserve muscle mass in older adults while helping them to slim down.[5] The results suggest that a combination of a low-calorie diet and regular weight lifting sessions could be the key to preserving muscle as we age.

Cons of strength training

1. There’s a risk of injury

Woman doing deadlift strength training exercises

First of all, let’s talk safety when it comes to strength training for women. When you’re lifting weights (especially free weights), you could be putting yourself at risk of injury. If you’re unsure of the proper way to lift, the entire endeavor could end in disaster. When you head to the gym, ask a personal trainer or adviser to help you along the way.

2. Dangerous for pregnant women

Woman using dumbbells to do pushups for strength training

One of the biggest issues with weight lifting is that it could be dangerous if you’re carrying a child. If you’re absolutely set on weight training while pregnant, you should be as responsible as possible. Research from the University of Georgia suggests that low-to-moderate strength training for women who are pregnant may be beneficial and safe when it’s overseen by an expert.[6] Reaching out to a personal trainer could be the way to go.

Cardio Training: Advantages and Disadvantages

Pros of cardio training

1. Can help to suppress appetite

Slightly curvy woman doing cardio training on treadmill

Regularly overeating will contribute to weight gain. Research from the American Physiological Society found that spending a vigorous hour on the treadmill leads to the release of hormones which suppress a person’s appetite.[7] You might be less hungry after a cardio workout than you were before.

2. Could help combat depression

Woman doing cardio training on the elliptical machine

Major depressive disorder (MDD) affects around 16.1 million American adults.[8] One tip to help you manage depression is to try cardio or aerobic exercise. Research published in Wiley found that this type of workout could have some remarkable antidepressant qualities.[9]

3. Releases positive hormones

Woman doing cardio exercises on gym exercise bike

Needless to say, one of the most popular forms of cardio workout is running. One study from the University of Iowa found that running lead to the release of both endorphins and morphine-like hormones called opioids.[10] These hormones are responsible for giving you a high-like experience and making you feel pure joy.

Cons of cardio training

1. Could actually damage your heart

Woman doing cardio skipping exercises

The entire idea of cardio training is that it helps to improve the functions of your heart. However, some research suggests that exerting yourself in this way could actually have the opposite effect. An animal study found that intensive cardio training could lead to a form of scarring on the heart, which may lead to arrhythmia.[11]

2. Time-consuming and laborious

Woman running on treadmill at the gym

During 30 minutes of mild running, you could use between 280 and 520 calories.[12] On the other hand, strength training allows you to burn a load of fat in a far shorter period, which could be beneficial. That means that if time is an issue, weight lifting could be the best workout to lose weight for you.

3 Cardio and Strength Training Routines for Weight Loss

Now that you’ve got the facts, what is the best workout to lose weight? A combination of both cardio and strength training could be the key. Research from the Academy of Finland suggests that the order in which you do aerobic and strength training has no impact on its effectiveness.[13] So, using these two forms of exercise in tandem may help you to slim down and get super healthy, fast. Here are three cardio and strength training routines to try today.

1. Cardio blast and arm training

Woman doing pushups for cardio and arm training

If it’s arms day in your training schedule, make some time for a little cardio workout before you focus on your muscles. When you’re looking for the best workout to lose weight, combining these two elements is an effective approach. Here’s what you need to do to complete this fun and challenging regime.

Interval running | 15 minutes

  • Equipment you’ll need: Treadmill

How to do it:

  1. Set the treadmill speed to high and start running.
  2. Maintain this speed for a couple of minutes and then slow down to a moderate speed for one minute.
  3. Alternate in this way until you have completed a full 15-minute run.

Dumbbell curls | 30 reps

  • Equipment you’ll need: 6kg dumbbell

How to do it:

  1. Hold the dumbbell in one arm and let it relax so that your hand is down by your hip.
  2. Curl your arm upward toward your chest. Repeat this action 15 times and then switch to the other arm.
  3. Repeat again for 15 reps.

Tip: Make sure your elbow is as close to your body as possible at all times! If you find that it is edging outward, stop and realign!

Push-ups | 40 reps

  • Equipment you’ll need: Yoga mat

How to do it:

  1. Get into push-up position and make sure that your back is straight, not arched.
  2. Lower yourself toward the floor and then push back up.
  3. Repeat this move 40 times to complete the set.

Side arm raises | 30 reps

  • Equipment you’ll need: Two 4kg dumbbells

How to do it:

  1. Hold one dumbbell in each arm and relax so that your hands are down by your hips.
  2. Keeping both of your arms straight, raise the dumbbells up sideways so that your arms are stretched out.
  3. Repeat 30 times to complete the set.

2. Cycle and leg training

Woman on an exercise bike in a brightly lit gym

Focusing on your legs is a great way to build muscle and strength. To create the best workout to lose weight, you have to work on every area of your body. This next routine starts with a short blast of cycling and then ends with some basic leg training.

Cycle | 20 minutes

  • Equipment you’ll need: Exercise bike

How to do it:

  1. Turn the difficulty level on the bike up to moderate.
  2. Cycle at your top-end speed for a matter of 20 minutes.
  3. Try not to drop below your peak level for the best results.

Seated leg press | 20 reps

  • Equipment you’ll need: Leg press machine

How to do it:

  1. First, choose your weight. Sit with your back straight and your legs bent.
  2. Put your feet on the apparatus and push backward and then lower yourself back toward it.
  3. Repeat this exercise 20 times without ever letting the weight fully drop.

Squats | 40 reps

  • Equipment you’ll need: N/A

How to do it:

  1. Stand with your feet a hip-width apart and keep your back straight.
  2. Squat downward, making sure that your butt is over your heels.
  3. Repeat this move 40 times to complete the set.

3. Power body workout

Woman at the gym using elliptical machine for cardio training

Ready for a full body workout? This next regime could be the best workout to lose weight fast. Combining cardio and strength training, the power body workout is simple to learn and could be super effective. Here’s what you need to know.

Skipping | 15 reps

  • Equipment you’ll need: Skipping rope

How to do it:

  1. Hold the rope in each hand and start with it down by your feet.
  2. Whip the rope over your head and down to the floor. Jump over it.
  3. Repeat this move 15 times.

Tip: Get speedy! The faster you can complete this set, the more your heart will start racing. Try timing yourself for the best results.

Cross training | 10 minutes

  • Equipment you’ll need: Cross-trainer

How to do it:

  1. Get on the cross-trainer machine, set your level, and hold onto the handles.
  2. Bring your left leg backward and right leg forward while you push your left arm forward and your right arm backward. Alternate as you move.
  3. Move as fast as you can on the cross-trainer for 10 minutes.

Plank | 1 minute

  • Equipment you’ll need: Yoga mat

How to do it:

  1. Get down into plank position on the yoga mat and set a timer.
  2. Hold the position for one minute. Make sure that your core is strong and your back is straight.

Weighted sit-ups | 30 reps

  • Equipment you’ll need: 10kg plate disk and yoga mat

How to do it:

  1. Get down on your back on the yoga mat. Hold a 10kg plate disk with two hands above your chest and arch your knees with your feet on the floor.
  2. Pull your body upward and move the weight as you do. Keep your core as tense and strong as possible.
  3. Repeat this move 30 times during the set.
Cardio Vs. Strength Training: Best Workout to Lose Weight

Conclusion

The best workout to lose weight for you depends on a variety of things. In this guide, we’ve given you an overview of how both cardio and strength training can add to your current regime. Try out one of the routines here and see whether it suits your fitness level. You can also create your own workout using a mixture of resistance and aerobic moves. Why not start today and boost your fitness while shedding some excess weight?

References

  • [1] https://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpregu.90706.2008
  • [2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30376511
  • [3] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080205121740.htm
  • [4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30376511
  • [5] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/oby.21977
  • [6] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110325151651.htm
  • [7] https://www.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/ajpregu.90706.2008
  • [8] https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
  • [9] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/da.22842
  • [10] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071108115611.htm
  • [11] https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1161/circulationaha.110.938282
  • [12] https://caloriesburnedhq.com/calories-burned-running
  • [13] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140313092224.htm

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