What is best for Fat Loss - Cardio, HIIT or Weight Training?

what exercise is best for fat loss

Fat loss is one of the most common fitness goals today. Almost, everyone is looking for a slimmer waist, muscular definition and the self-confidence that comes as a reward of achieving these goals through hard work. 

However, a majority of aspiring gym-goers and home fitness addicts are conflicted as to how to get there due to a wealth of information from all directions.

A common question that we get in our inbox is “Which type of exercise is best for fat loss?”, actually the question is more like “Which type of exercise is going to give me 11 line abs?!”

The hard truth is that there is no singular fat burning exercise or specific exercise that is going to give you 11 line abs. Instead you will need to combine a series of exercises and follow a well structured exercise and nutrition program.

This article is going to give you a quick rundown of the most popular training types: cardio, hiit and weight training and how they attribute towards your fat loss.


Cardio training is easy to perform and has multiple noteworthy benefits, these include:

  • Reduced stress levels
  • Increased bone density
  • Better circulation
  • Stronger heart and lungs
  • Increased energy over time
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Helps to control blood sugar levels
  • Weight loss

In addition, extensive research has shown that during a training session cardio burns more calories than weight training minute for minute, and the more you weigh the more calories you burn.

Furthermore, cardio can be performed by doing almost anything that requires you to move. For example; dancing, walking, power walking, jogging, cycling, roller-skating, skipping, kicking a football in the park, chasing baby around the house, you name it!

Cardio is fun, has a low barrier to entry and is a great starting point for any individual looking to begin a fitness regime.

However, cardio training also comes with its challenges. Burning more calories during your session is great, but what about when the session is over?

Cardio uses almost of your muscles but does very little to shock them or stress them into growth. With cardio training there is also very little Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) also known as ‘After-burn’.

After-burn is an increased rate of oxygen intake following strenuous activity, it is this that leads to greater fat loss. However, steady state cardio is considered low impact and therefore the low level of EPOC means that you only burn significant calories when you are doing the exercise.

This is where HIIT comes in.


High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT training is essentially another form of cardio. It involves short bursts of very intense exercise combined with low intensity recovery periods. Research has shown HIIT to burn more calories per minute than steady state cardio (1). In addition, it drives up your oxygen intake capacity and ramps up your metabolism allowing you to burn calories long after your session is over.

Furthermore, HIIT improves both your anaerobic (intensity, muscle building) and aerobic (cardiovascular, oxygen consuming) body systems.

This means with HIIT you can build muscle and burn fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn lugging it around! 

It is one of the reasons why we absolutely love it.

Click here to download our HIIT Workout Calendar for this month!

Weight Training

If HIIT burns more calories than regular cardio and helps to build muscle, then why bother with weight training?

For starters, HIIT can only be performed effectively or sustained for a short period of time, typically 4-30 minutes before you almost feel completely depleted of energy. Weight training can go on for an hour plus. Therefore, the muscle growth that you experience during a weight training session is far greater than in a HIIT session. In addition, weight training is highly metabolic and has far greater EPOC than both steady state cardio and HIIT put together.

Weight training is also essential in building strength, growing both your slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers, as well as helping you sculpt the physique that you desire. If this isn’t enough, here are some more incredible benefits of weight training:

  • Improves posture and reduces posture associated pains
  • Improves your balance
  • Improves sleep, energy levels and overall mood
  • Promotes hormonal balance
  • Improves bone density and reduces risks of osteoporosis
  • Boosts metabolism and everyday fat burning


The Bottom Line

So, after reading all of this which form of training should you focus on?

Our honest opinion is all three. However, you must account for your schedule and whether you can consistently dedicate enough time to working out.

If you are short on time and your focus is fat loss, we strongly suggest HIIT training with a combination of weights added to your routine. We have hundreds of extremely effective weighted HIIT Routines.

Click here to see the workouts

If increased muscle mass and muscle tone is your goal, you should focus on weight training, with a small amount of cardio added to the beginning and the end of your session.

If you are very new to training we recommend that you begin with steady state cardio such as incline walking, jogging, cycling or making use of the cross-trainer and shock your muscles with body weight exercises before progressing to HIIT and Weight Training.

Note: All of our workouts online can be done as multi-sets instead of HIIT.

Ultimately, your aim should be to move and expend as much calories as possible. It is important to note at this point that to reach your fitness goals you must combine exercise with a healthy eating regime specific to your lifestyle. If this is neglected, all your fat loss efforts will be in vain!


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