Strength vs Cardio?

Strength vs Cardio?

This is a question I get asked all the time… which is better – strength or cardio? Before we get into the answer, when I say cardio I mean running, walking, cycling, swimming, hiking etc and strength training I am referring to resistance training weights, bands, circuit training etc – basically anything that means you are working against resistance to build strength. The answer to the strength vs cardio question also depends on your goals. 

The choice between strength training and cardio training depends on your fitness goals and overall health objectives. Both types of exercise offer unique benefits, and ideally, a well-rounded fitness routine would incorporate elements of both. Here’s a breakdown of the benefits of each:

Strength Training

  • Muscle Building: Strength training is effective for building and toning muscles. It helps increase lean muscle mass, which can boost your metabolism and aid in weight management.
  • Bone Health: Resistance training can improve bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Functional Strength: It enhances overall physical strength, making daily activities easier and reducing the risk of injuries.
  • Metabolic Benefits: Strength training can contribute to improved insulin sensitivity and better management of blood sugar levels.
  • Body Composition: Strength training builds lean muscle mass which is often a goal when embarking on an exercise programme. To build lean muscle you need to work the muscle under resistance which is exactly what strength training does.
  • Joint Health and Injury Prevention: Strengthening muscles around joints provides added support, reducing the risk of injuries and promoting joint health. 

Cardiovascular Training

  • Heart Health: Cardio exercises, like running, cycling, and swimming, improve cardiovascular health by enhancing heart and lung function.
  • Weight Loss: Cardio workouts are effective for burning calories and can contribute to weight loss or weight maintenance.
  • Stress Reduction: Cardiovascular exercise releases endorphins, which can help reduce stress and improve mood.
  • Endurance: There is no denying that regular cardio training improves endurance and stamina, allowing you to engage in sustained physical activities for longer periods. There is no supplement for running if you’re training for a marathon!

In many cases, a balanced fitness routine that includes both strength and cardio training is ideal. This approach provides comprehensive health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, muscle strength, flexibility, and overall fitness. The specific ratio of strength to cardio training can vary based on individual goals, fitness levels, and preferences. 

Additionally, it’s essential to listen to your body and gradually progress in intensity to avoid overtraining and reduce the risk of injuries.

So what is my verdict, strength or cardio…. you might have guessed it but it is STRENGTH!! 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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