Which Is Better: Strength Training or Cardio Exercise?

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

It used to be that in order to stay fit, one has to spend hours pumping iron in the local gym. These days, most fitness experts recommend a combination of different exercise regimens to achieve maximum weight loss results.

Perhaps two of the most popular types of exercises today are weight or strength training and cardiovascular exercise. But which of these two works the best? Before trying to find out which exercise reigns supreme, it’s important to know more about each fitness routine.

Cardiovascular Exercise

As the name implies, cardiovascular exercise is meant to strengthen the cardiovascular system. It’s an upbeat exercise that gets the heart rate up, gets your blood pumping, and increases oxygen in the lungs. Cardiovascular exercise also helps lightly tone the muscles without bulking up as well as strengthens both the heart and the lungs. However, this exercise is not meant to achieve ridiculous muscle cuts or develop muscle power.

What’s great about cardiovascular exercise is that it’s a very easy routine — even beginners can do it. It’s beneficial for people who want to strengthen their ligaments or joints and thicken their tendons in preparation for a high-intensity workout.

Various types of cardiovascular exercises include the popular Zumba, as well as cycling, running, and aerobics exercise.

Most fitness experts suggest that adults should do moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercises two and a half hours every week. Other benefits of cardiovascular exercise includes improved circulation, increased bone density, higher energy levels, improved sleep, diffused stress, and anxiety prevention.

Cardiovascular exercise is very versatile too. Those that enjoy outdoor/indoor cycling or swimming can develop various routines centered on cardiovascular training. The key to effective weight loss and fitness through cardiovascular exercise is consistency. You want an exercise routine that you truly enjoy in order to stick to the program.

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Weight or Strength Training

If you’re looking to bulk up and tone muscles, then turn to weight or strength training. Unlike cardiovascular exercises that target the cardiovascular system, weight training targets major muscle groups in the body, using weights to build and strengthen muscles.

Typically, weight or strength training will require weights, fit balls or elastic gym bands, and your own bodyweight. This kind of training relies on resistance to develop muscle power. The main goal in strength training is to develop muscles and lose weight at the same time.

By doing strength training, you increase muscle tissue while burning more calories. And the more lean muscles you develop, the more calories you burn! Strength training is best for individuals who want to shape their entire bodies or sculpt targeted areas.

In addition, strength training is slower in pace if you compare it with cardiovascular training. The key towards developing lean muscles through strength training is repetition and gradual increase in weights. Fitness experts agree that in order to achieve your goal weight and form, you will need to observe a strict, calorie-controlled diet.

Most people doing weight training also boost their protein intake to build more muscles and repair damaged muscle tissues. Clinical tests show that strength training helps boost metabolic rate, leading to efficient fat loss.

One of the most common concerns regarding strength training is if you’ll bulk up after training. The results will depend on your own preferences. You don’t need to carry 300 pounds of weight every time you train to sculpt your body! It’s important to work with a fitness professional to develop the right training that suits your body.

Which Is Better: Cardiovascular Exercise or Strength Training?

So which is better, cardiovascular exercise or strength training? The answer will depend on what you hope to achieve. For example, if you’re looking to strengthen your lungs and heart—as well as to improve flexibility—then the best choice is cardiovascular exercise.

On the other hand, if you want to burn off more fat, speed up your metabolic rate and build muscles, and improve power, then strength training is the best choice.

If you want fast results or simply want to maximize your time in the gym, then a combination of both cardiovascular exercise and strength training is ideal. Combination training is the most effective way to burn off more calories.

For older women or post-menopausal women, we recommend doing strength training to cut the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Start with an hour or so of cardio exercise and then add some resistance training to your routine, two to three times per week.

Of course, exercising would be useless if you don’t watch what you eat. We recommend eating healthy, low-calorie food together with exercising to see immediate results.

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