Running vs. Weight Lifting: Which Is Better for Weight Loss?

Running (and cardio training in general) and weight lifting are the two most popular types of working out when it comes to weight loss. Fitness trainers and medical experts are usually divided when it comes to determining which can help you lose weight faster. 

Cardio is important because it elevates your heart rate and causes you to burn a lot of calories in a short period of time. However, weight lifting is also essential to weight loss because it builds muscle which requires a lot of calories even when resting. 

Therefore, deciding which one is better is difficult, if not impossible. Both are equally important as we will show you below. However, depending on where you are currently on your weight loss journey, you might favor one or the other.

Running Burns More Calories Short-Term

If your goal is to burn as many calories as possible in a short amount of time, there’s nothing more effective than running. Running gets your heart pumping strong and accelerates your breathing. Your body needs to demolish calories in order for you to be able to do it over a longer period of time. 

On average, the human body burns around 400 calories per hour when jogging. When running moderately, that number goes up to 600 calories per hour. However, if you are an experienced runner and you can maintain a faster pace, the number of calories you use per hour can even reach 1,000.

However, when you stop running, your body continues to burn calories only for a short amount of time. This is where weight lifting comes into play.

Weight Lifting Helps You Burn Calories Sustainably

If your goal is to burn calories more sustainably and not risk gaining any weight back after losing it, you should focus more on weight lifting. Namely, lifting weights builds muscle. This process requires a lot of calories because muscles need a lot of energy to develop and grow. However, even after the weight lifting session is over, your muscles are going to continue to burn calories just to “stay alive.”

Your basal metabolism is the number of calories you need in a day just to stay alive, without sustaining any physical exercise. This number goes up the more muscle you have in your body. That means that even when you do not hit the gym and stay in your bed the whole day, you will burn a lot more calories than before. 

Weight Lifting Prevents Injuries 

Another reason why weight lifting will allow you to burn calories more sustainably is that it will make your body stronger. Consequently, you will be more resilient to injuries and you won’t have to make many pauses that can lead to gaining weight back when you’re not exercising.

This is not the case when it comes to running. Most runners get injured when they’re starting out, which means that they have to stop. The most common injuries in running are knee injuries, many of which can be prevented by lifting weights. Weight lifting can strengthen your glutes, quads, and hamstrings, which would stabilize your knee and make it more resilient.

Combine Both for the Best Results

After stating all mentioned above, the most logical conclusion would be that the combination of running and weight lifting is the best for sustainable weight loss. Weight lifting will protect you from injuries and give you a strong body, whereas running will help you burn calories faster and stick with your weight loss goals.