Cardio vs Strength Training

January 2, 2017

Cardio or strength training? When beginning your journey into the fitness lifestyle, you may find yourself wondering which of the two is more beneficial towards weight loss and creating your desired physique. The reality is that both have their benefits and should be utilized towards a balanced routine. Regardless, I’m aware that you may want to know the pros and cons of each so that you can determine how much cardio and strength you wish to include.

Cardio 

The purpose of engaging in cardiovascular exercise – cardio for short – is to get your heart pumping. Literally. When doing cardio, your heart rate increases. Over time, your resting heart rate will decrease, making it so that it doesn’t have to work as hard in order to pump blood through you. This is a great thing, because your heart is a muscle, and by exercising it, it doesn’t have to work so much. The heart has a unique type of muscular tissue that’s specified for its constant expanding and contraction. Regardless, it too gets tired, and by working it out, you prolong its longevity and increase your lifespan.  Additionally, cardio exercise can be very intense and allows you to get a quick calorie burn within a relatively short amount of time (45 minutes to an hour). The 150-300 or so calories burned assists towards weight loss.

The drawback to cardio is that the effects aren’t long-lasting. You have to work out every single day in order to burn calories through a solely cardio routine, which may not be for everyone. Also, cardio doesn’t yield muscle gain. Although there are types of routines that utilize body weight more than others (such as high intensity interval training, HIIT, versus running cross country), it simply doesn’t compare to strength training in terms of gaining muscle.

Strength Training

Strength training, as opposed to cardio, focuses on the individual muscles in the body and muscle gains. These gains manifest themselves in additional pounds of muscle. It’s slow, more controlled, and more attention is taken with maintaining form than with cardio. Form is important to cardio, but it’s especially imperative with weight training because mistakes can be fatal or cause serious injury. That sounds discouraging, but most routines are perfectly safe if you’re mindful and don’t rush. Strength training yields lasting results in terms of calorie burn because it increases your resting metabolic rate. Therefore, you don’t have to work out every day. In fact, weight lifting two to three times a week is perfectly fine, so as long as your routine is varied. I personally discourage doing strength training back to back because you need rest days. Lifting weights literally creates micro tears in the muscle, which must heal over in order to become stronger. Constantly lifting weights only slows this healing, leaves you perpetually sore, and increases the risk of injury.

The main drawback of strength training is that it causes soreness and decreases your flexibility. Even with thorough warm-ups and cool-downs, it’s still necessary to take the extra step of incorporating yoga routines the day after you work out to maintain flexibility. Certain exercises, like bench pressing, require a partner to ensure your safety. If you don’t have someone willing to work out with you, you may find yourself slightly limited in what you can and can’t do. Another factor to consider is the cost. The nice thing about cardio is that you only need your body. With strength, you need something to lift. Weights get more expensive the heavier they become, and gym memberships may be costly if you don’t have the funds at your disposal. To remedy this, I recommend obtaining coupons and waiting for sales to minimize the cost of weights. Your body is worth the investment!

Personally, my routine is about 30% cardio, 60% strength training and 10% yoga. This is because in addition to having a nice shape, I enjoy working out the muscles in my body and becoming strong. Although strength is the majority of my routine, I still have a feminine physique, so ladies, don’t allow the fear of weights to get to you!

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I wish you the best in your fitness journey! Do you prefer cardio or strength? Let me know down below!

Namaste,

V

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