Cardio Vs. Strength Training: Which One Is Better At Boosting The Metabolism?

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If you’re new to the gym, you might feel like asking around which kind of exercise is better. Don’t worry if you get mixed answers, because the debate between cardio and strength training is eternal.

Each type of exercise has their own goals, and none are better than the other. Some people prefer to run on the treadmill, while others would have a session of weightlifting.

There are claims that strength training helps the body burn calories faster than cardio, but a new study found that when it comes to boosting metabolism, cardio training is the winner.

Cardio Vs. Strength Training

A University of Copenhagen team of researchers analyzed the differences between levels of hormone production by comparing cardio training and weight training programmes completed by a group of study participants.

The research was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight.

The participants were ten healthy young men, who were divided into two groups. One group completed cardio training and the other weight training per week.

The group chosen for cardio would exercise on a bicycle, and the one for strength training would complete five exercises, each being repeated for ten times – all of the exercises working major muscle groups (chest, biceps, triceps, and quads.) The workouts lasted for 60 minutes for each group.

After the session, researchers took blood samples over the next four hours from finishing the workout. They measured the levels of lactic acid, bile, blood sugar and the levels of hormones in the participants’ body.

The results from the analysis of the cycling group showed an increase in production of a hormone called FGF21 – three times larger than the strength training group. This hormone boosts the person’s metabolism. It boosts the process of the body converting food into energy, helping the body burn more calories even while resting – thus helping in weight loss.

The results from the group that was on weight training saw no particular change in the production of that hormone.

A New Weapon To Combat Metabolic Disorders

Christoffer Clemmensen is an associate professor from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research and the co-author of the study, explaining that it is “very exciting for us researchers to see how different forms of physical activity actually affect the body differently.”

Clemmensen added that they knew that different forms of training could affect hormones like adrenalin and insulin over long periods, “but the fact that strength training and cardio exercise affect FGF hormones differently is new to us.”

The researcher explained that this result could help them use this hormone’s potential “as a drug to combat diabetes, obesity and other metabolic disorders.”

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere