It’s an age-old question- what is better- cardio or weight training? We hear you- If you’re spending a precious hour of your day exercising, you want to make sure it’s the most effective form for your body and goals!
So let’s lay out the facts so you can determine which strategy will work best for your goals!
In one corner we have cardio- this includes walking, running, swimming, cycling and other forms of exercise that elevate your heart rate.
On the other side we have weight training which can include heavy strength training, circuit style training using lighter weights and even high intensity movements done over a short period of time.
What are the benefits of Cardio Training?
1. Improve heart health
If you started running recently you will remember how that first run felt, your heart was beating wildly in your chest and you felt as if you were about to pass out! But then after 3 or 4 runs, while it was still difficult, you were able to breath a little easier! This is because your heart was able to pump oxygen more efficiently around your body as you ran.
2. Boosts brain power
From the age of 30, our brain gradually loses tissue, effecting our cognitive performance. Cardio exercise has been linked to reducing the amount of brain tissue lost over time. Studies have shown that those who regularly exercise had the most robust brain tissue! So get exercising to help your brain!
3. Regulates appetite
If you’re prone to snacking, this point may have grabbed your attention! Cardio exercise causes your body to circulate more blood to prevent overheating, diverting blood away from your stomach and often reducing your appetite!
4. Strengthens your immune system
Research has shown that regular and moderate exercise has positive effects on the immune system by increasing immunoglobulins (immune system protecting molecules produced from your white blood cells).
5. Helps to maintain healthy blood pressure
If you suffer from high blood pressure, then cardio exercise may be a great option to help achieve healthy blood pressure levels. One study showed the effectiveness of endurance exercise (walking, jogging, cycling and swimming) at decreasing blood pressure levels in sedentary adults.
What are the benefits of strength training?
1. Boosts the metabolism and fat loss
Weight training increases lean muscle mass and this in turn creates a higher metabolic rate, meaning more calories are burned!
While a cardio workout will probably burn more calories during the session, weight training will keep that calorie burn going much longer, which leads to a larger and more sustained calorie burn.
According to a study by the University of Alabama- weight training can be especially important to women trying to lose body fat. This study showed that greater belly fat loss occurred in women who lifted weights as compared to those who just performed cardio exercise.
2. Protects your bones
Your bones change over time in response to the forces that are placed on it (like during strength training). When you exercise regularly, your bones will adapt by building more bone, thereby increasing your bone density and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Now we’re not saying that to do this you need to lift ridiculously heavy weights. But strength training over tie has been shown to have positive effects on bone density.
3. Relieves stress
Strength training has been shown to have a positive effect on mental health and in relieving stress. Exercise releases endorphins in your brain and are used to counteract negative sensations. Strength training helps to decrease cortisol levels, as well as regulating your blood flow and heart rate, speeding up your metabolism, clearing up brain fog, and boosting your mood! All which have positive effects on relieving stress!
4. Helps you to get a good night sleep
While weight training tires your muscles, the drop in cortisol (from point 3 above) helps you to get a more peaceful sleep. In one study, researchers found that lifting weights in the morning helped subjects fall asleep about 45 minutes faster. And by lifting weights in the evening, it improved the actual quality of sleep!
Studies have shown that strength training helps us to get a better night’s sleep by helping to regulate vital bodily functions (such as resting glucose metabolism, blood pressure and metabolic rate.) These all contribute to stress reduction and therefore a better quality nights of slumber.
Verdict- which is better?!!
So now you’ve heard the evidence on both sides of the fence, what do you think?
While cardio is great for improving the health of your heart and helping with weight loss, strength training has a great effect on fat loss and building lean muscle as well as helping with bone strength and stress.
If your goal is to tone up while sculpting muscle then doing a combination of both cardio and strength training is the best way to go to achieve your goals.
Remember that in an age where we spend way too much time sitting at a desk, the main thing may be that you at least move! So if you enjoy one form of exercise over the other and it helps you to move, then start with this!
Are you looking for a plan that is tailored towards your goals? Are you wanting to know the right type of training (strength and/or cardio) that is best for your goals? Get in touch with one of our qualified trainers who love to create tailored and specific plans for your body and goals!