Resistance Training: Image of barbell and sneakers in living room

Resistance Training or Cardio—Which is better?: Info-Mini-Hack #2

(My speedy summary of this 1+ hour podcast episode on resistance training.)

What’s the best way to lose weight: cardio exercise or resistance training?

Knowing the frequently spouted formula for slimming down—Burn more calories than you consume.—most people choose the physical activity they believe will burn the most calories. Which means cardio activities like running, Orange Theory classes, and spinning sessions.

With cardio, you may experience an initial weight loss. Until you don’t. 

Sal di Stefano (author of The Resistance Training Revolution,* co-host of the Mind Pump Podcast, and personal trainer for 20 years) says depending on cardio is problematic for a few reasons.

  • Most people don’t love to exercise (The average person who exercises only works out 2-3x/week).
  • Cardio doesn’t burn that many calories (Which means five minutes of chowing down can trash two hours of cardio exercise). 
  • The body adapts to cardio activity by becoming more efficient at the activity and therefore burning less calories during the activity. Going forward, you’ll have to do more cardio or eat less food to get results.

In addition, according to Di Stefano’s book, cardio exercise sends your body the message to become good at the activity you’ve selected. “With cardio sending this signal, your body adapts by sparing calories and pares down its primary calorie-burning tissue, muscle…The bottom line is that tons of cardio erodes muscle and slows down your metabolism, making long-term fat loss very difficult.”

If cardio isn’t the way to get in shape, what is?

Di Stefano believes: 

Resistance training is the best exercise for a number of reasons.

  • Resistance training tells the body to build muscle and burn more calories.
  • It improves the body’s insulin sensitivity.
  • Building strength makes your daily activities easier. 

But wait, there’s more. Resistance training can also reduce your risks of “…obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, chronic pain, premature aging, depression, and anxiety.”

And there’s more good news. You only need two or three sessions a week to get and maintain results.

With that said, Di Stefano says if there’s a cardio activity you LOVE, keep doing it! Any movement is better than being sedentary.

Resistance training is also good for your brain.

Since I have a history of cognitive decline in my family, I was particularly interested in Di Stefano’s mention of a University of Sydney study in which “…six months of resistance training slowed and even halted, the degeneration in the hippocampus and its regions a year after the exercise trial.”

Resistance training also benefits your heart, bones, and hormones. It can also lead to a longer life. How? Having good grip strength, as well as the ability to get up off the floor without grabbing on to something, may extend your life. A study cited in the Journal of Gerontology “…found that those with weak muscles (very little strength) were more than twice as likely to have died during a follow-up period than those with normal muscle strength.”

I was so impressed with Di Stefano’s interview with Max Lugavere that I bought the book. All the above points were covered and then some. In addition, there’s a chapter on making better food choices. Best of all, there’s also a ton of workout plans including ones to exercise with:

  • no equipment
  • only dumbbells
  • a home gym 

If you care about your health, I recommend you listen to the entire podcast episode here.

To read my top two tips for weight management, check out this blog post.

*affiliate link


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