The Benefits of Cardio vs. Weight Training

A goal-oriented guide

With gyms closed or operating in limited capacities, many of us have had to adjust our workout routines. Everyone still needs exercise, after all. 

While browsing for new at-home activities, you might find yourself in the middle of an age-old fitness quandry. Questions like “which comes first: cardio or weight training” or “what’s better for you: lifting or HIIT?” present a false chasm between the two. Sure, both have their advantages and drawbacks, but there’s no reason to think you should have to choose between one or the other. Here, we took a look at cardio vs. weight training to try and understand what the differences really are.

Cardio:

What is cardio?

Cardio, aka cardiovascular conditioning or aerobic exercise, is any activity that raises your heart rate and the pace of your breathing. Unlike strength training, cardio involves sustained activity through repeated movement. “Aerobic” means “with oxygen,” as the metabolic process at work relies on your mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) to turn oxygen and carbohydrates into energy for your cells.

What does cardio do for your body?

Aerobic exercise trains your respiratory system, improves heart function, increases red blood cell production, and can even reduce physical and mental stress. These exercises burn a lot of calories during the activity, but not after.

While most cardio has a reduced risk of severe injury, it’s important to mix up your methods to avoid overuse or repetition-based injuries. Cardio is great for burning off excess calories but it doesn’t build much muscle mass.

Examples and reccomendations

Cardio exercises:
-Running
-Swimming
-Cycling
-Stair climbing
-Skateboarding or rollerblading
-Rowing

Experts recommend that the average person performs 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio per week. If your goals are to lose weight, improve endurance, or improve your overall health, then cardio should be a core part of your workout routine.

Weight Training FAQs

What is weight training?

Weight training, or strength training, is anaerobic exercise. These exercises differ from cardio on a cellular level, using glucose stored in the muscles instead of oxygen through a process called glycolysis.


Strength training exercises are typically shorter but more intense. Your body burns fewer calories during the exercise itself but will continue to burn more calories all day long. Over time, strength training can even increase your resting metabolic rate.

What does weight training do for your body?

The biggest beneficiaries of strength training are your muscles, as it builds muscle mass, increases strength, and improves your endurance for anaerobic activities. It also strengthens your bones and tendons, resulting in more support for your joints. Just like cardio, weight training improves your heart’s functioning as well.

Examples and reccomendations

Weight training exercises:

-Push-ups, sit-ups, and other bodyweight exercises

-Weightlifting

-Jumping rope

-Sprinting

-High-intensity interval training

Experts recommend two to three sessions of anaerobic exercise per week, though their time commitments vary. If you’ve set goals to look better on the beach or to lift the couch a little easier, then weight training needs to be a part of your routine.

So what’s best for you?

Only you know the ratio, but a mix of the two

If you’re trying to lose weight, then cardio is going to be your primary tool. If you’re trying to gain muscle mass, then weight train away. If you’re trying to improve your heart health, endurance, and overall wellbeing, the best workout is one that incorporates both.

You’ll burn fat while building muscle, help your heart and your bones, and reap the benefits of a well-balanced body. You can adjust the amount of anaerobic to aerobic exercise based off your goals and preferences, and find more exercises that you enjoy doing.

Don't forget diet!

No matter what your goals are, a balanced workout plan is incomplete without a healthy, supportive diet. What’s more supportive than fresh, locally sourced meals brought right to your doorstep while you work out your work out?

 Farm to Fit 2021

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