Cardio vs. Weights: What to do to Slim Down, Not Bulk Up

girl lifting weights
Image via iStock

If I didn’t know better, I’d think my gym was segregated. The treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes are full of women. The bench press, free weights, and weight machines; no estrogen in sight, men only! Seriously! I was really curious to find out why we women tend to focus so much on cardio and neglect weight training. The most frequent answer I heard was, “I just want to lose weight and slim down. I don’t want all that bulky muscle.”

What they don’t understand is that lifting weights actually burns calories during their workout and after!

I hear ya. After 3 babies, I’m anxious to look a little more curvy and a little less… bumpy? So I wondered, is there anything to this cardio obsession? Is this what is going to work for us women who aren’t looking to compete in a body-building competition any time soon? Or should we venture over into the ‘man cave’ and pick up a weight every now and then? Anxious to get some answers I turned to some fitness experts in my area for their opinions on the subject.

 Janelle Hernandez, a health and dance teacher near Rochester, New York said, “Girls in general are usually more focused on losing weight.  When they hear the word cardio, they think skinny.  Cardio classes also advertise the opportunity to burn calories and drop the pounds. Therefore, girls flock to cardio classes and/or machines to see the ‘calories burned' number increase, missing a huge opportunity to burn more calories by lifting weights.  What they don’t understand is that lifting weights actually burns calories during their workout and after! Because muscle takes more energy to sustain than fat, you are burning more calories as you break down, repair and maintain the muscle. Realistically you will not get bulky by doing some strength training, you have to be really trying to gain muscle mass to do so.” (It’s a lot of work and hours in the gym for body builder bulk!)

Janelle goes on to explain that “Cardio is important and will help burn calories, but weights help tone your body while burning calories well after you have finished working out. So I suggest that if you are looking to lose weight and tone and tighten your body, you need to add strength training to your weekly workouts. So PICK UP SOME WEIGHTS!”

Sweet! Burn calories after my work out? Deal! Since muscles are denser and leaner than fat, even if you gain weight from muscle mass, you will most likely still lose inches from fat reduction and toned muscles! (and we all know it’s about how you look and feel in that little black dress, right?!)

 So ladies, don’t let the sweaty men hog the weight training equipment. We all know the time away from the kiddlets to get a workout in, doesn’t come as frequently as we’d probably like, so get more bang for your buck and get the benefits of working out, even after you finish! So gals, pick up some weights!

 What weight training exercises do you do? Are you caught in the cardio-only trap?

What do you think?

Cardio vs. Weights: What to do to Slim Down, Not Bulk Up

Jeanna Strassburg is a wife, and mother of three, who enjoys kitchen dance parties and summer time! Jeanna received her bachelor’s degree in Education from Brigham Young University-Idaho in April of 2007. She enjoys spending her time cooking, cleaning and tending to the proper duties of a stay at home mother… NOPE! Truthfully, she enjoys eating the food, but not making it or cleaning up after it. She likes to have a clean home, but loathes laundry and dishes. Loves her children, but coul ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. Phammom says:

    I do light wieghts.

  2. Ashley says:

    this is a great reminder to woman! I still get confused on the proper weight to tone and not bulk p though

    • Ashley- thanks for your comment. The experts all seem to say, don’t worry about getting bulky- you need to put in a ton of time and effort trying to bulk up to do so. But, if you’re concerned, I would suggest speaking with a trainer about your specific situation.


Send this to a friend