Weight training generally involves the movement of a single muscle group (like in a biceps curl), whereas cardiovascular exercise involves multiple muscle groups working together at the same time. For example, when you run, you are pumping both your legs and arms while also using your core to stabilize yourself. Since you're working more muscles at a time, you will typically burn more calories during cardio than during strength training. The calorie burn also depends on the type of strength exercise you perform. Full-body strength movements (such as a squat with an overhead press) burn more calories than isolation movements (such as just an overhead press with no squat added). While cardio exercise burns more calories than weight training overall, circuit training (a mixture of both cardio and strength) is ideal for maximum calorie expenditure.
Even though it may not burn as many calories as cardiovascular exercise, weight training is important for a couple of reasons. First, the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you will burn, even at rest. But the actual "extra" calorie burn that more muscle mass provides is relatively small compared to the number of calories you can burn during an hour of cardio exercise.
The second reason is more important. Whenever you lose weight, you will lose some muscle along with the fat. If you don't strength train, up to 30% of the weight you lose can come from muscle loss, and that isn't likely to be healthy over the long haul. Good strength and muscle tone are essential for functional living and health. While losing weight, you can minimize your muscle loss with moderate strength training. Strength training also helps to preserve bone density, balance, and many other important bodily functions.
That being said, all information about calories burned (whether from SparkPeopleís database, another site or your heart rate monitor) is based on estimates. Keep that in mind when setting expectations for weight loss, since progress doesnít always happen in the consistent manner you might expect.
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