If you’re a health and fitness enthusiast, if you tried to lose weight or have been successful at losing it; you have probably faced the cardio vs. weight training dilemma somewhere along the line. What’s the difference? The science is confusing and ever-changing but we will explain it in simple terms. What should you do? Depends on what you want to achieve. Let’s take these questions one at a time.
What’s the difference?
“Cardio” is short for cardiovascular exercise, which refers to endurance exercises that strengthen your body’s circulatory system (the heart and blood vessels). Examples include running, biking, etc.
On the other hand, “strength training” is an exercise that uses resistance to contract muscles in order to increase strength, boost endurance, and build skeletal muscles. Examples include weight training, pilates, yoga, and bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, etc.
What should you do?
Well, now that you know the difference, let’s try to understand what you should do. We’ve divided it according to the goal you’re trying to achieve.
Shedding Stubborn Pounds
Cardio has an advantage when it comes to burning fat and maintaining a healthy weight. You will certainly burn more calories during your cardio session. However, strength training is just as necessary. You can start your routine with moderate intensity cardio and introduce weights or mix up strength training with spikes of intense cardio.
Muscle Gain and Strength
Cardio performed too frequently or intensely may prevent you from gaining muscle mass. The key is to balance your cardio sessions with strength training. Go for a moderate warm up and carry on with targeted exercises for different parts of your body. Vary your strength-training routine to challenge different muscles and prevent stagnancy.
If you want to improve your overall health and be fit, you can’t skip out cardio. Not only does it strengthen your heart, but it also reduces the risk of many diseases such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, etc. Strength training is still crucial though and will make a big difference as you age. To fight bone loss and muscle loss, continue strength training.
Although cardio and strength training are very different from each other, they’re both essential to maintain optimal health and should both be part of your schedule.