The majority of workouts that advertise themselves as high calorie-burning events can be broken down into three different categories: cardio, resistance training, and cardio plus resistance training.
Cardio: An example of cardio would be spinning, running, doing the elliptical. Any exercise that is aerobic would be considered cardio. There are cardio classes at the gym, or you can stay at home using your own equipment.
Resistance training: Resistance training includes activities like power yoga, Pilates, lifting weights, or using a band or ball. This is anaerobic, and focuses only on building muscles.
Cardio plus resistance training: As you may have guessed, cardio plus resistance training combines the elements discussed above. P90X, Beach Body Insanity, Jillian Michaels Body Revolution are my favorite workout videos that include cardio plus resistance. You are lifting weights, then doing jumping jacks just moments later. Another name for this type of exercise is called circuit training.
Which Workout Burns the Most Fat?
A 2008 study at the University of California asked this very question, and had one group do cardio, another group do resistance training, and a final group do a circuit training workout in which they ran for 30-60 seconds after completing each weight lifting set.
Even though each group did the same amount of work, the combination group experienced the following:
- a 991 % greater loss in fat mass!
- a 35% greater improvement in lower body strength,
- a 53% greater improvement in lower body endurance,
- a 28% greater improvement in lower body flexibility,
- a 144 % greater improvement in upper body flexibility, and
- an 82% greater improvement in muscle gains,
That means the combination group not only burned fat and built muscle at the same time, but the amount of fat they burned was about ten times more than those that did just cardio or resistance training only.
So without a doubt, combining cardio and resistance training will burn the fastest.
This has absolutely been my experience with exercise and weight loss too!