Is One Better Than the Other?
One of the most popular fitness questions these days is which is better: cardio or lifting? There are definitely benefits to both of these forms of exercise, but there is also a lot of confusion as to which one we should be doing. Some people spend the majority of their gym time running on the treadmill, while others are lifting heavy weights. Even those who work out at home tend to find one or two videos that they love and repeat every day. So who wins the fitness battle, cardio or lifting? Let's first take a look at each!
These types of exercises are characterized by their ability to get your heart rate up, strengthen your cardiovascular system (your heart and blood vessels) and make you work up a sweat! Since cardio makes your heart beat faster, more oxygen and nutrients are carried to your cells. Plus cardio workouts help you build a stronger and healthier heart. Who wouldn't want that? Some examples of cardio are:
If you're looking to lose weight, then you'll want to incorporate some cardio into your workout routine. These types of exercises help you lose fat and body mass. In short, cardio will burn more calories and there are plenty of ways to get your cardio in each day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park further away so you have a longer walk, take breaks during the day to move your body, cycle to work (my dad still does!). I am not a huge fan if running, I do love to run after a ball in field hockey so if you are like me join a sports team.
On the other hand, lifting or strength training involves a variety of moves in which you are, well, lifting weight! When you lift light weights you are activating different muscle fibers than when you lift heavy weights, which is why it's good to switch it up. Let's say that 5-lb. weights are where you feel challenged when doing overhead presses, but when it comes to flys you need to lower the weight in order to maintain proper form. Not a problem. Over time you will get stronger, so don't give up. It's best to get the form right with a lighter weight than a super heavy dumbell and doing it wrong! Here are some examples of lifting exercises:
OVERHEAD TRICEP DIPS
The really cool thing about strength training is that you continue to burn calories even after you stop exercising. So while you may not burn as many calories during the exercise as you would by doing cardio, once you stop lifting, your body is still feeling the burn.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Okay, so does that mean you should do cardio OR should you do strength training? Well, the best route to go is by doing BOTH of them. You can alternate cardio and lifting days, or if you choose to do them both on the same day, do strength training first, then cardio. After your lifting session, your heart rate is already up, so when you do your cardio your heart rate will go even higher, thus burning more calories. I like to incorporate both of these exercise methods in my body-weight exercises. That's why a lot of my workouts include moves like curtsey lunges, planks, jumping squats, Russian twists with weights and things like that. My Fitness Calendar puts it all together for you so there's no guesswork to do!
At the end of the day remember that nutrition is most important. I always say 20% fitness, 80% nutrition. You need to eat enough when you're exercising so that your muscles can be nourished and work to their best ability. Complex carbs, healthy fats, green veggies, and lots of protein will help. Hydration is key, too! My Nutrition Plan includes the post-workout shake I use after a workout to feed the muscles so they grow, plus it's low-calorie and packed with nutrients so that I can maintain my results.
Drop me a comment and tell me which you prefer: cardio or strength training?