Strength Training vs. Cardio
Strength training versus cardio has been an exercise battle for over a decade, and while we may all have a favorite, there are many things to consider when planning out your workout routines! So which one is better? Which one burns more fat? Which one is going to give you the results you want? Can you do all one and not the other? If you do more strength training, you need more protein right? If you do more cardio, you need more carbs right? Just how do you choose between the top competing exercise categories in the world? Let’s explore these answers and so much more!
For all of you cardio lovers out there, here are the things you most likely already know or you should.
1. Cardio has an enormous amount of variety
As long as you can get your heart rate up and your lungs working, you are doing cardio. This means you can be skipping rope, running, cycling, dancing, kickboxing, swimming, skating, skiing, and so much more. You can do cardio at home, at a gym, in water, in a forest, at the park, and just about anywhere else as long as you have a little bit of space. It is very difficult to get bored with cardio because you can always change it up. That’s a big win!
2. Cardio burns fat
Ok, all exercise burns fat, but cardio is king when it comes to powerful fat burning and getting off those extra pounds. There’s just no denying that 30 minutes of all out cardio will burn off more calories during the session than any other form of exercise. When you want that svelte body, long, smooth lines, flat tummy, and lean physique, you want to take on aerobic exercise. Meaning with air or oxygen to be specific. Would it surprise you to know that cardio is effective at weight loss primarily through calorie expenditure released through gases in the lungs?
3. Cardio has awesome health benefits
Cardio is great for endurance training. This means your heart becomes more efficient utilizing oxygen, pumping blood through your body, and allowing you to run up those stairs without getting winded. Cardio also targets visceral fat, i.e. belly fat. This isn’t just surface fat. Visceral fat is what compacts around your organs, and only your cardio sessions can burn it off. This means a healthier liver, kidneys, digestive system, lungs, and of course your heart!
If you’re team cardio, don’t stop reading now! Weight training has its own debate to make with some pretty good arguments.
1. Weight training has variety too
It’s not all about hitting the weight room at the gym or buying your own barbell set and bench. Weight training is just as effective using your own body weight. Look at calisthenics! Can’t argue the benefits of push-ups, pull-ups, and squats. Like cardio, you can do weight training anytime, anywhere. You can choose to use just your body or you can add weights.
2. Weight training burns fat in a totally different way and maybe better
This is the real catalyst for all the debate. Which exercise produces better results? Well, it actually depends on your goals. While we can’t argue the power of cardio in burning belly fat during a tough session, we can say that weight training burns more calories for longer. So while you may not burn as many during your workout, your body is going to continue to eat up those calories long after you’ve exhausted your muscles. Weight training is also best for targeting specific areas of the body for aesthetic improvement.
The more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolic rate, meaning you burn more while sitting at your desk. Strength training while losing weight has also shown to be more effective in keeping that weight off in the future.
3. Weight training provides symmetry, strength, and its own health benefits
Have you ever seen a runner's quads or a cyclist's hamstrings? They’re incredible. But what about their arms, core, back, or glutes? Most cardio activities target specific muscles groups, so if you follow a fave routine or action, you are most likely only building one part of your body. Weight training can target any area of the body depending on your focus. Want better arms? Then target your arms. It’s that easy.
While it may seem obvious, weight training is also how the body builds strength. Building strength helps to prevent day to day injuries from pulled or strained muscles. Weights also strengthen your bones, joints, and tendons allowing your body to do more.
Weight training gives the body more power and more stamina.
So what is the best decision when mapping out your ideal workout plan? BOTH!
If you want endurance, power, strength, stamina, low body fat, great looking definition, strong bones and healthy organs, you need to create a workout that includes both strength training and cardio. You can choose to do both on the same day, or you can alternate. If a slim figure is your primary goal, opt for 3-4 cardio days and 2-3 strength training days. Work to get 150 minutes minimum a week in your total workouts, and be sure to alternate muscle groups and add as much variety to all of your training as you can.
Most importantly, remember you cannot out exercise a bad diet!
If cardio is your focus, give yourself enough carbs to fuel your session. Choose carbohydrates from cruciferous vegetables and low sugar fruits. When muscle is your focus, give it the protein it needs to repair and grow. Choose low fat, healthy plant proteins so you don’t ruin all that great fat burning cardio. Add in high quality protein snacks every day you choose to workout. Be sure to eat your carbs early in the day and save your protein for later, so the body doesn’t store the carbs as fat while resting. For a late night binge, choose a protein snack that is guilt free like some spicy Red Pepper Puffs!