The common line of thinking is that hour after hour on the treadmill will make you lose fat, while pumping iron will make you put on weight and get MASSIVE.
But what if I told you, you don't have to do hours of tedious cardio, and lifting weights will help you achieve your fat loss goals and get that body you really want? - Well its TRUE!
Don't get me wrong, cardio does burn fat and in a 1 hour session, depending on the intensity, can burn more calories than 1 hour weight training. But one benefit of weight training is a boosted metabolism for up to 36 hours post-exercise, a faster metabolism means more calories burned and more fat lost. In fact studies have shown that weight training can burn up to 10 calories an hour more post-exercise, then after a cardio session. This may not sound much, but over 36 hours equals an extra 360 calories burnt, on top of the calories burnt in the session.
Weight training and the right nutrition will lead to added muscle mass. Not only will this help you gain a more 'aesthetically pleasing' shape, but the more muscle you have the more calories your body uses up, to maintain and operate these muscles. Again, studies have found that muscle uses up 3 times the amount of calories than fat.
More muscle = more calories burnt.
Hour after hour of cardio will make you lose weight, but cardio alone has been shown to decrease muscle mass also. If its fat alone that you want to lose, and you want to maintain/improve your strength and shape, then stick to the weight bay.
'But I don't want to get too muscular'- Impossible! Especially for females, who have naturally lower testosterone levels then males. I've been trying for 12 years to continuously gain mass. Eating and training to add muscle and it's a painfully slow process (for the natural athlete!). So unless you massively over eat or take certain substances, then you won't get too muscular from weight training.
If Fat Loss alone was your goal, then what would I recommend? Weight Training.
Weight training has most of the health benefits of cardio and is often more enjoyable to do, but for all round health and fitness a good mix of the 2 is required. After all, it is important to keep your fitness levels in good order.
Having said all this, Weight training and cardio alone won't get you the results you're after. Diet has the biggest role to play in fat loss. They say 'you can't out train a bad diet' and its true, unless you train for an unreasonable amount of time per day, you can't.
If the effort to achieve fat loss was a percentage, then roughly 70% of that effort would be diet and only 30% down to your training!
In my last Bodybuilding competition prep (NPA Yorkshires 2017) I lost 10kgs in the first 10 weeks. This was achieved through 4-5 Weight sessions a week, little to no cardio, but a carefully thought out diet plan, adding up to 2500 calories per day. So when it comes to fat loss, yes the right kind of training is important, but your diet is the key.