Almost everyone who has encountered fitness has likely encountered this assumption, either spoken or unspoken: weight lifting doesn’t burn calories.

If you want to lose fat, you have to opt for more traditional cardio like running or the elliptical, they say. But the truth is that those oft-assumed rules of thumb are only part of the picture.

It’s pretty clear that cardio activities are likely to get your heart rate up quickly, boosting your metabolism into burn mode. But lifting weights ups your heart rate too, and studies have shown that weight lifting actually leaves your body burning calories at a higher rate for longer.

“There are reports of resting metabolism staying elevated for up to 38 hours after weight training, while no such increase has been reported with cardio,” Healthline shares. “This means that the calorie-burning benefits of weights aren’t limited to when you are exercising. You may keep burning calories for hours or days afterward.”

That’s the short term picture of how your daily workout might be more effective with a weight lifting circuit built in.

But what about the long-term big picture of a training regimen? Turns out weight lifting can be crucial there too, since lean muscle mass burns more calories in your body faster.

“When you calculate your basal metabolic rate, which is how many calories you would burn if you stayed in bed all day and did absolutely nothing except breathe, one of the factors that goes into this is your total body weight. The most accurate equations will also take into account lean body mass, which represents your muscles, bones, and organs. The more muscle you have on your body, the higher this rate will be and the better the calorie-burning results you will obtain 24/7.”

So that means that you should ditch the treadmill and head straight to the weight rack, right? Not so fast. The cardio versus strength training question will always be best answered with a “both” rather than an “either/or” solution.

CNN reported on an extensive study conducted over exactly this dilemma: “Not surprisingly, the cardio-plus-resistance group improved their body composition best–losing the most fat while adding some lean mass.” They did note, however, that the combination group also had to spend more time in the gym to get to their results.

Trying to achieve this balancing act is why more and more fitness lovers and trainers are turning to Crossfit and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) models.

Crossfit — which we love at Texan Fitness — involves rapid sets of different workout elements, moving between muscle groups without ever giving your heart rate a chance to fully cool down.

The exact balance of cardio types and weight training also varies widely depending on an individual’s specific needs and goals. Body composition and the rate at which metabolism naturally functions and lean muscle mass builds will never be exactly the same from one person to the next.

So how do you land on exactly the routine that is right for you? Professionals can help!

Find out how Texan Fitness can be a part of your journey to finding that perfect balance for a strong, toned, healthy life.