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Strength training vs cardio – which should you do?

Should you perform strength training or do cardio work? It depends on your goals. If your goals include putting on muscle mass and losing bodyfat then strength training is for you. If you are interested in general fitness and health benefits, then cardio is the way to go. Let’s look at the benefits of both

Strength training:

  1. You get stronger – as the name implies, you gain strength with this type of training.

  2. Gain muscle mass – this does not mean you will look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Muscle weighs more than fat so you could gain muscle and look thinner.

  3. Improve balance – the stronger your leg and hip muscles are the better balance you have as other muscles do not have to compensate to keep you upright.

  4. Improved posture – the stronger your middle back and core muscles are the easier it is for you to stand and move with good posture. The muscles work less because they are stronger.

  5. Bodyfat loss – muscle uses energy just being there. The more muscle you have the more calories you burn while you are doing nothing – like sitting watching your favorite sport or tv drama.

  6. Burn extra calories – studies show that the body burns calories not only during strength training but after as the body recovers leading to extra calories expenditure.

  7. Protects bones – muscles are connected to bones via tendons. The stronger the muscles get, the stronger the bones get. It is a wonderful way to battle osteoporosis.

  8. Helps with chronic disease – studies have shown that strength training can help ease symptoms of chronic conditions, including neuromuscular disorders, HIV, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.

Examples of strength training include

  • Lifting weights

  • Using resistance bands

  • Bodyweight training like push-ups, sit-ups, and squats

  • Using machines at a gym

Two to three sessions a week is the normal protocol for strength training as the effort requires your muscles to have 48 hours of rest to recoup and rebuild.

Aerobic training:

  1. Improves cardiovascular health – it strengthens the heart muscle.

  2. Lowers blood pressure – cardio keeps your arteries clear by raising the good (HDL) cholesterol and lowering the bad (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood.

  3. Helps regulate blood sugar – this helps people with type 2 diabetes just like strength training.

  4. Reduces asthma symptoms – people with asthma lessen both frequency and severity of asthma attacks because your lungs are stronger.

  5. Reduces chronic pain – cardio may help you get back muscle function and endurance.

  6. Aids sleep – individuals with chronic sleep issues benefit from regular aerobic exercise.

  7. Regulates weight – aerobic exercise burns calories and helps keep excess weight off.

  8. Strengthens immune system – aerobic exercise strengthens certain antibodies in the blood.

Examples of aerobic training:

  • Swimming

  • Walking

  • Rowing

  • Cycling

It is recommended that healthy adults get 150-300 (2.5-5 hrs.) minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week.

To sum up, it depends on what your goals are. Look at the above list and decide which is more important to you right now and what you have time to do consistently. Of course as a personal training I always advice both so you get the benefits of both.

I hope this was helpful.


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