You know that you need to exercise and now you’re ready to take action. Hooray! But what kind of exercise should you do? It comes down to cardio exercise versus strength training.
Every week I am asked about the values of one form of exercise over the other and here’s my comeback: What do you want to achieve?
You see, the type of workout you choose depends largely on your desired outcome.
If you want to lose weight and change the way your body looks, your primary workout should be strength training, and I’ll explain why in just a sec.
If you want to improve your overall fitness level then cardio workouts should be your primary training and I’ll explain this in a sec as well.
If you want to be your best – fit and toned with high energy and a happy head – you guessed it, I recommend a mixture of both strength training and cardio work with the percentage of each based on the desired results. Why? Because my education, personal experience, and work with clients has proven it time and time again.
Let’s go back a bit and do some defining:
AKA Cardio training can be defined as any movement that gets your heart rate up above it’s normal rate for a sustained amount of time. Fast walking, jogging, swimming, aerobics, spinning are all good forms of cardio exercise.
Cardio strengthens your heart and lungs, it improves circulation and increases bone density, and has a positive effect on your energy levels. It also burns calories which can aid in weight loss. All good things, right?
The downside to a cardio-only exercise regime is that it does not increase your metabolic rate – that is the rate at which your body burns calories when it is not in “go mode.”
Cardio work does not always change your body shape and size either, especially in the long term. That’s because cardio doesn’t necessarily build muscle mass, and after a while, your body becomes accustomed to the new level of exercise and decides that status quo is the way to go!
And, while you may burn calories during your cardio workout, it’s easy to negate that after the workout by eating too much or eating the wrong types of food because you’re famished.
Also known as resistance training, strength training is physical exercise that uses resistance to work muscles in order to build strength, anaerobic endurance, and muscle mass. Strength training can be done with resistance bands, free weights, weight machines or just your body weight, depending upon your goals.
Benefits of Strength Training
Working out with weights (including body weight) has many benefits. First and foremost, it is a great way to lose weight, and keep it off! How does it work? Well, your body burns calories during the workout but it also burns calories after your strength training because it is building and maintaining muscles. A side benefit of this calorie burning and muscle building is that you sculpt and tone your body.
Another benefit of strength training is that it is good for your bone health. It can increase bone density and may even build new bone. As we age this becomes more and more important.
Downsides of Strength-Training-only
The disadvantages of a strength-training-only regime is that you can hurt yourself if you do not use the proper form or if you over-do. This is true with any type of exercise from playing golf to running and is a good reason to consult with a trainer before you get started.
Additionally, unlike cardio exercise, strength training does not necessarily strengthen your heart, lungs, or circulatory system, all of which are important to a healthy and vibrant life.
So, cardio exercise versus strength training?
Forget “either/or” and go directly to “and”… have a mixture of cardio and strength training each week.
If your primary goal is to lose weight, gain strength and sculpt your body, do strength training 3 days a week and do some form of cardio work on your off days.
If your goal is general fitness and heart strength, do cardio workouts 3 times a week and do some form of strength/resistance training on your off days.
Another option is to do workouts that combine strength and cardio training such as my Summer Slimdown workout. Try it free!
Regardless of which way you go, strive for consistency. Show up for yourself and you’ll look and feel terrific and you’ll have additional confidence to boot.
PS, if you are looking for a comprehensive fitness program that includes nutrition and fitness coaching, click here to take a look at The Beach Physique Method.