Cardio or strength training: which is better?

Cardio or strength training

Most of us who visit the gym regularly and exercise, are looking for at least three results from our efforts, weight loss, fitness and toning. But how do we achieve all three effectively? The answer is to mix up training with a variety of different exercise methods.

In order to become a well-rounded athlete and achieve maximum good health, it is important to adopt a well-rounded exercise regime which combines several methods of exercise.  Atreq takes a look below at the benefits of cardiovascular and strength training, and how both methods combined can achieve a positive effect on your fitness levels.

What is cardiovascular exercise?

'Cardio', as it is often referred to, is an exercise method designed to get your heart rate up, so any exercise that makes you feel hot and sweaty and gets more oxygen pumping around your blood can be classed as a cardiovascular exercise. Some of the more popular methods of cardio include cycling, running, aerobics and Zumba. Government guidelines suggest that adults should be undertaking a minimum of 2.5 hours of cardio activity every week to stay healthy.

What are the benefits of cardiovascular training?

  • Cardio exercise will benefit your heart and lungs a great deal and is especially important for beginners who are aiming to perfect a regular exercise regime because cardio thickens the tendons and ligaments in joints and prepares them for higher intensity exercise.
  • Cardiovascular training offers huge health benefits such as improved circulation and an increase in bone density - a benefit for combating illnesses such as osteoporosis.
  • Cardio exercise can also help to improve sleep and reduce anxiety levels as well as increasing your energy levels, providing it is not done to excess.
  • There is a huge choice of cardio activities that can be undertaken both indoors and out, meaning you are more likely to find a sport that interests and engages you.

What is strength training?

Strength training is an exercise that improves the strength of your muscles and enables them to become more powerful. Strength training can be achieved using a series of different weights, or  by supporting your own bodyweight using simple exercises such as press-ups and squats. You can also used resistance-based methods such as elastic gym bands and fitness balls.

What are the benefits of strength training?

  • If you are looking to improve the strength of your bones and tone up muscles, strength training is essential - it's also one of the key components to losing weight.
  • Choosing to perform weight training on a regular basis will increase your muscle tissue - the leaner your muscle tissue, the more calories your body can burn.
  • Strength training offers a number of health benefits - it increases your good cholesterol and reduces the risk of illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and breast cancer as well as reducing stress and anxiety levels. 
  • Strength training can improve your overall body flexibility and therefore reduces the risk of muscle pulls or back pain.

Cardio versus strength training

Combining both types of training will effectively provide you with a well-rounded exercise regime because both training regimes complement one another but produce different results designed to strengthen and improve your body in different ways.

In terms of general fat loss, strength training is more effective because it increases the metabolic rate. Cardio aids fat loss if you are following a calorie controlled diet but its effect on body shape and size is far less.

To effectively combine both methods, you can choose a fitness class that offers training in both areas such as CrossFit  or circuit training, or work with a fitness expert to create an appropriate weekly timetable which dedicates a safe level of exercise to each area.  

 

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