we hope you’re having a good training week to date. Today’s topic covers a question we’re asked about on a regular basis: What is better for losing weight, strength training or running? The answer to this question is not straightforward. In this post we will look at both modes of training, and educate you on the best option for you.
Running is an endurance sport, therefore it’s a continous low to moderate intensity activity. The main type of muscles used while running are the slow twitch fibers (STF). These are much smaller fibres than fast twicth fibers (FTF), used in power and strength sports. So, what does this mean for weight loss? STF are lean muscles and won’t get any bigger during endurance activity. They activate mainly at low and moderate running paces. As a result, the calorie burning rate will be low to moderate, but constant during a run. The heavier you are, the more calories you will burn per minute of running. This is simply down to the effort the body needs, to move itself forward. The figure varies greatly but it’s estimated that running for half an hour will burn 400-600 calories, depending on air temperature, weight, speed etc. When you’re running you are developing your STF and your body will break down and develop lean muscle mass. You will look lean and ripped rather than big and bulky.
Now let’s look at the opposite end of the spectrum, weight training. Firstly, let me explain what I mean by strength training. In this case, strength training means 8 reps or fewer per exercise, using heavier weights (on the heavier side of lifting). When the body has to lift a heavy load, it will recruit FTF muscles to complete the movement. Unlike STF’s, FTF’s will break down the muscles, but grow bigger and stronger- not leaner. Strength training involves movement over a short space of time followed by a rest period. As a result, you will stress the body and muscles over a short period of time, but not continously, like running. Strength training burns calories, but not at the rate of endurance activity. This might be surprising, but that’s not the full story. After a running bout, you will continue to burn calories at a higher rate than rest, but this effect won’t last too long. After a strength workout however, you will continue to have an elevated calorie burning rate, as your metabolism is raised. This effect can last up to 24 hours, depending on the workout intesnity, strength levels etc.
Top Tip: Running will burn more calories during the run, whereas strength training will burn more over the 24 hour period after the workout bout.
The Best Approach
This is dependant on your current lifestyle and exercise routine. If you are struggling to lose weight or get stronger, this information will help you get to the next level. If you want to train for a running race, it’s best to focus on running, 80+% of your overall training. If you want to mainly get stronger, then do the opposite of training for a race and do 80% of your work lifting. If you want to be more lean, focus more on endurance activity but keep some strength training- think 60-70% endurance, 30-40% strength. If you want to develop strength, do the opposite- 60-70% strength, 30-40% endurance.
Personally we believe that both forms of workouts are beneficial. A combination of the two is ideal for weight loss purposes. Doing both types of training will keep the body guessing and ensure you’re working every muscle group each week. Nail down your goals and then work from there as a starting point.
We hope this helps you with your training programme.
If you have any comments or specific questions, get in touch.
Until next time,
Stephen and Catherine
The Health Heads