Cardio versus weight-training- which side do you fall? We all know those who live for long runs while some of us would rather deadlift until the cows come home. Most of us physically active have a preference, but is one better than the other?
Certainly, any type of exercise is better than no exercise; but, both forms of fitness have their pros and cons. Much depends on your own goals and personal health, but commonly, the key may be a combination of the two.
Whether you prefer cardio or weight training, the benefits of any type of exercise are undoubtedly worthwhile. Even if it’s just a morning walk, you will be rewarded both mentally and physically by moving your body. Benefits of breaking a sweat include:
- Reduced risk of obesity
- Weight control
- Lowered risk of heart disease
- Improved mental clarity and focus
- Lowered risk of diabetes and insulin resistance
- Increased productivity
- Lowered risk of cancer
- Improved mood and emotional wellbeing
- Sense of accomplishment
- Better sleep quality
- Prolonged longevity
Indeed the list could go on. Many also benefit socially from an exercise regime. Finding a workout buddy creates new friendships and a sense of accountability in life. Moreso, trying new types of exercise can push you out of your comfort zone and relay into other aspects of life.
In short, cardio versus weight-training, or any way to sweat can drastically improve many aspects of your life.
The Benefits Of Cardio
What exactly is cardio? Cardio is short for cardiovascular, and so is any exercise that increases your heart rate and your breathing rate. To improve cardiovascular fitness, the American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week. Examples of cardiovascular exercises include: running, walking, swimming, jumping rope, rowing, and cycling; though, there are many many more. The benefits of cardio are plenty.
Cardio is essential when it comes to heart health. Adding a regular cardio routine lowers both your resting heart rate and your blood pressure. It also increases HDL ‘good’ cholesterol and decreases LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Other benefits of cardio include:
- Decreased risk of stroke
- Clearer skin
- Increased oxygen to muscles
- Strengthens lungs
- Increases daily calorie burn
- Improves bone health
- Fights against arthritis and osteoporosis
There are no real disadvantages associated with cardio exercise; however, a variety of activities can improve a cardio only regime. Cardio has less of a lasting effect on metabolism than other types of physical activity. Also depending on personal fitness goals, cardio only routines yield fewer results regarding weight loss and muscle gain. Lastly, a variety can be good at combating boredom. Boredom is one of the quickest ways to lose motivation.
Aside from boredom and a lack of variety, too much cardio can be harmful. Overdoing cardio can lead to:
- Unnecessary soreness,
- Joint pain,
- Poor sleep quality,
- Exhaustion and feeling drained,
- Less energy throughout the day,
- Frequent sickness, and
- Loss of muscle.
Too much of anything is not a good thing. If you’re doing too much cardio, your body will tell you. Be sure to listen! Luckily, cardio isn’t the only way to exercise.
Benefits Of Weight-Training
Cardio versus weight-training is the question?Weight training is any type of strength exercise that uses weight for resistance. Whereas cardio strengthens your heart (also technically a muscle), weight training strengthens what is more traditionally known as your muscles. When referring to weight training, think more squats, deadlifts, presses, and curls. Weight training can be shorter reps with higher weights or longer reps with lower weights, allowing many variations.
Weight training also has many advantages, including:
- Long-lasting metabolism
- Weight loss
- Weight loss and decreased belly fat
- Muscle gains
- Improves posture
- Builds confidence
- Improves strength and endurance
- Improved balances and reduced falls
- Flexibility and mobility
Disadvantages Of Weight-Training
Weight training does have drawbacks, the most frequent one being injury. Always use caution when weight lighting. There are many ways to harm your body while weight training, including:
- Lifting more than you can handle
- Lifting too quickly
- Not warming up or stretching
- Poor form
- Dangerously using equipment
- Dropping weights
- Not using a spotter
These instances can lead to broken bones, or pulled, torn, or ruptured muscles. Some injuries may heal with time; however, unfortunately, some may require surgery and physical therapy to recover. To avoid injuries such as these- always warm-up, stretch and work on flexibility and mobility, use a spotter when necessary, use a trainer when unsure of correct form, and most importantly listen to your body.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT):
If you married cardio and strength training, their baby would be HIIT. A typical HIIT workout consists of short but intense interval bursts of both cardio and strength training. HIIT workouts are a favorite among runners and athletes as it enhances endurance and strength.
HIIT’s popularity has soared the past decade for many reasons. It is incredibly time-effective and result-driven. HIIT has shown to improve athleticism, cardiorespiratory function, metabolism, and fat loss. Studies show that HIIT can be almost 30% more effective in fat loss than moderately intense workouts, and often done in less time.
A Combination of Cardio and Weight Training
As you can see, there are pros and cons to both cardio and weight training. The most effective exercise routine is likely a combination of both. A combo of the two is especially useful if your goal is fat loss and lean muscle.
Moreso, if your goal is to improve cardio, weight training is often the answer and vise versa! In the same sense that weight training can improve strength necessary for cardio, cardio can improve endurance essential for weight training.
Ultimately, if you’re moving your body and breaking a sweat, you’re on the right track; but like most things in life, variety and moderation are the keys to success.