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Weight Training Vs. Running for Weight Loss

author image Kim Nunley
Kim Nunley has been screenwriting and working as an online health and fitness writer since 2005. She’s had multiple short screenplays produced and her feature scripts have placed at the Austin Film Festival. Prior to writing full-time, she worked as a strength coach, athletic coach and college instructor. She holds a master's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton.
Weight Training Vs. Running for Weight Loss
Couple running together outside. Photo Credit: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images

When your goal is to lose weight, you want to take steps towards burning as many calories as you can. This is because when you burn a greater number of calories than you take in from what you drink and eat, you force your body into breaking down and using the extra fat you’re carrying. While running will cause you to burn a greater number of calories, weight training also has the capability of supporting your weight loss efforts.

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Key to Losing Weight

The number of calories you burn everyday depends on the number of calories you burn with physical activity, as well as the calories your body uses to fuel the function and maintenance of an array of body processes, which is referred to as your metabolic rate. The creation of a 3,500 caloric deficit equals a pound of fat loss. Therefore, to support your weight loss goals, ideally you make adjustments to increase both the calories burned through exercise and your metabolic rate.

Running’s Impact

Running allows you to burn a significantly high number of calories very quickly. How many calories it will burn depends on your body weight as well as the pace as which you run. According to Health Status, a person weighing 180-pounds will burn about 691 calories in 60-minutes when running at 5 mph, about 821 when running at 6 mph and about 940 calories when running at 7 mph. Therefore, with running alone, as long as a healthy eating plan is followed, a 180-pound person can create a 3,500 caloric deficit and thus lose a pound of fat every four to five 60-minute running workouts.

Benefits of Weight Training

Lifting weights doesn’t burn as many calories as running while you’re participating in the workout. According to Health Status, the person weighing 180-pounds will burn about 281 calories during a general 60-minute weight lifting workout, to about 497 calories during a vigorous 60-minute lifting session. However, weight training is the most effective way for putting on lean muscle. According to the American Council on Exercise, the presence of lean muscle causes you to burn a greater number of calories throughout the day, because it takes more calories to maintain muscle tissue. As a result, you increase your metabolic rate and burn a greater number of calories throughout the day.

Winning Combination

Both running and weight training support a weight loss program, with each offering different benefits, but both resulting in an increase in daily calories burned. If you were to combine both exercise activities into your regimen, you would be simultaneously burning a high number of calories with running, while speeding up your metabolic rate with weight training. If you only participate in one exercise type, because running will help you burn a greater number of calories, it’s the more efficient of the two for losing weight.

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