Which is better, weights or cardio? It’s one of the fitness industry’s biggest client questions. It is something that gets asked on a daily basis.
Should I be doing more cardio or more weights?
The short answer is that it depends on what your goals are but almost always both!
Today we are going to run through a few goal scenarios and answer the weights vs cardio question for each.
Goal: To Lose Weight
When it comes to losing weight, in particular body fat, cardio enthusiasts will tell you to get on the treadmill, elevate your heart and roast those calories!
Weightlifters might tell you that strength training is best for losing fat. As you increase muscle mass, you burn calories all day long.
But which is best? Well, both!
Yes you burn more calories when your heart rate is elevated.
Yes you burn more calories at rest when you have more muscle.
The difference for most, won’t be hugely significant however.
Fat loss for most people is simply a product of work. As a result, if you’re looking to lose some body fat, the best exercises to do are the ones you’ll be consistent with.These ideally will include a variety of exercise styles to keep you motivated and interested.
Most people won’t notice a huge difference in fat loss by choosing just one type of modality.
Goal: Running Related
It seems like a no-brainer that if your goal is to run (perhaps a particular run like a half marathon or even just 5km) it would make sense to be training cardio, especially running itself right?
However, if you follow a program that only has you running and nothing else your chances of getting injured are supremely high. You are also hindering performance outcomes by not including supplementary training.
Injury prevention for running
All runners, be it couch to 5km or elite runners, need to include some strength training (which hopefully includes some mobility and flexibility) in their weekly training programs. If you pound the streets you need to have the muscles to be able to cope with the demand of every step. If this strength isn’t there to begin with or isn’t maintained, the chance of injury either acutely or over time is much more likely.
Performance for running
If you have a goal of running a certain distance in a certain time then just running will only get you so far. Gaining strength is going to help you go that much faster and last that little bit longer. The amount of force you put through the ground through one leg at a time, over and over again whilst running is huge.
So it would make sense to train and strengthen the muscles in the legs. But not only the legs, your glutes and core need to be strong to hold you upright as you run and protect your spine. Your arms, chest and shoulders need strength to help drive the upper body along with the legs.
Basically strength training for running is a must!
Goal: Strength Improvements
You might be at a point where you either don’t want to lose any weight or you’d actually like to put on some weight (muscle mass). If this is the case, then weight training is absolutely going to help.
It is important to make sure however, that you don’t avoid cardio altogether!
Maintaining roughly 120-150 minutes of cardio per week is still recommended.
All of the cardiovascular benefits of training cardio are still needed by the body. Gaining muscle mass but losing out on cardiovascular fitness is not the healthiest way to go about it.
For these people, the balance might shift with more focus being in the weights room. There should always be weekly cardio training however, so don’t forget it completely.
Benefits of Weights & Cardio
Here’s a short list of just some of the benefits of both training modalities:
● Lowers blood pressure
● Helps regulate blood sugar
● Can reduce chronic pain
● Increases sleep quality
● Strengthens immune system
● Increases stroke volume meaning there will be more oxygen and nutrients delivered throughout the body to the cells
● Boosts mood
● Increases strength
● Fat loss, burn calories as you rest!
● Improves balance
● Injury prevention
● Reduces the risk of osteoporosis
● Brain health – helps with the production of the hormone that stimulates connections in the brain as well as helps enhance cognitive function
● Increases confidence
There are a whole host of other benefits to both cardio and weight training not mentioned above.
It would seem silly to be missing out on all of the benefits of one training style if you’re only doing the other!
Cardio VS Weights – Which one is better? In Summary…
Though how much you do of either depends on your goals and what you’re working towards, it is always important to be doing both cardio training and weight training. It will just be the ratio that changes person to person.
If you’re not sure how much of both you should be doing or need help with more specific programming to make sure you’re getting the right balance it’s best to hit up a professional who can help!
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