cardio vs weights

Cardio vs Weights

This is a question I get asked all the time… which is better – cardio or weights for results? Here is my verdict! 

Before we get into the answer when I say cardio I mean running, walking, cycling, swimming, hiking etc and weights or resistance training I’m referring to strength training, weights, bands, circuit training etc – basically anything that means you are working against resistance to build strength. The answer to the cardio vs weights question also depends on your goals. 

So, first up is cardio – cardio training works on improving your cardiovascular fitness and health, that’s your heart, lungs and blood vessels. This type of training helps this system work more efficiently under higher intensity. Let’s look at the benefits of cardio training…

  • It really does improve heart health.
  • It aids fat loss – but it is important to note here that it does depend on the type of cardio. LISS (low intensity steady state cardio) is great for weight loss goals and good for those new to exercise. HIIT (high intensity interval training) is great for maintaining muscle, encouraging fat burning enzymes and efficient fat burning – and don’t forget weight training can be cardio in this scenario too. However your goals may not be just about fat loss and it is so important to maintain muscle tissue for a healthy metabolism and toned physique (cue resistance training – more to follow on this!).
  • Cardio is very cost effective – running, walking, hiking are totally free, a skipping rope doesn’t cost much and cycling can be done on a budget!
  • Getting a sweat on can save our brain! Research has shown that those who regularly undertook cardiovascular exercise had the most robust brain tissue over time. 
  • It is great to maintaining healthy blood pressure.
  • Immune boosting – regular moderate exercise boosts immunoglobulins (part of our body’s defence system).

So cardio definitely has its benefits, what about weight training…spoiler alert it definitely helps with fat burn and weight loss along with a whole host of other benefits like toning, boosting metabolism and let’s read on for more!

  • Firstly it helps to build lean muscle – training with weights breaks down the muscle tissue and triggers the body to rebuild the tissue in a stronger fashion thereby building strength and endurance in the muscle.
  • Boosts metabolism – to put it very simply weight training increases muscle mass which means a higher metabolic rate and so more calories burned. So, you might burn more calories per minute of workout in a cardio session but weight training will keep that slow burn of calories going all day – think of it is a marathon of calorie burn!
  • It increases bone health – anyone who has followed me for a while will know that I am a huge advocate of this point. It is so important, especially as we get older, loading our bones with extra weight through resistance training helps them to stay strong and improves the health of our bones.
  • Stress busting – a good weights session does wonders for the mind and body, it is one of the best ways to relieve stress!
  • Sleep – it is great for sleep for two reasons, the first is that it tires your muscles, the second being it reduces cortisol (stress hormone) so cue a good night’s sleep post training.
  • You can adapt and take it anywhere – you don’t need fancy weights and machines, you really can take weighted workouts anywhere. You can use water bottles, a resistance band etc and you hardly need any space so you can do a resistance workout on holiday, in a hotel room when working away, in the garden…you name it, it can be done!

So what is the verdict, cardio vs weights…. you might have guessed it but it is WEIGHTS!! It is better for fat loss and building lean muscle but cardio shouldn’t be ignored, it has some great benefits and the two work very well in tandem! My advice (if you’re looking to tone up, build some lean muscle and improve your fitness) is to try doing a variety of both – 3-4 strength sessions per week alongside a couple of cardio workouts is ideal (of course with some mobility and stretching too if you can). It is also important to remember the nutrition side of things if you want to see results, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and veg and protein as well as complex carbs will tick the boxes for hitting those goals you have set! And always always take one if not two rest days.

As always, any questions please do get in touch

Caroline x

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