Cardio vs. Weight Training

Don Beaver, Director of Fitness

We often hear that age-old question, “Which is better, weight training or cardiovascular training?” Well, the answer depends upon what your fitness goal happens to be.

Weight Loss Goal. If weight loss is your goal, a healthy approach is to aim for 1 to 1-1/2 pounds per week by reducing your calories by 500 to 750 per day below the number of calories you burn (i.e., consume 1500 calories and burn 2000 daily). Many of us cannot just cut calories, but we can increase the burning of calories. So, which burns more calories, cardio or weight lifting? It’s not a “perfect science,” since so much depends upon weight, age, metabolism, ability to engage in intense workouts, etc. Having said that, by comparison, a cardio workout will burn more calories than a weight-training session of the same duration. However, weight training is more effective than cardio at building muscle, and muscle burns more calories at rest, which will increase your resting metabolism and ultimately assist you in losing weight.

Benefits of Weight Training. Weight lifting will increase muscle growth, muscle definition, muscle strength, metabolism rate, and bone density while reducing the risk of osteoporosis, along with protecting your joints from injury. These benefits are vital to Quail Creek residents with our more advanced age and our desire to remain active while avoiding injury.

Benefits of Cardio Training. Cardio workouts will burn more calories and reduce the risk of many chronic health conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and stroke. Obviously, these benefits contribute to extending our longevity as well as our ability to remain active during our extended lifetime.

So, Which Is Best? A study of 119 overweight people was conducted with three exercise plans: cardio, weights, and cardio with weights. Results indicated that those in the cardio and weights group had the best body composition changes, losing weight and fat while gaining muscle. So there it is—incorporating both cardio and weight training will help you lose weight while gaining muscle. Taking these findings further, a separate study determined that if you weight train first (Note: Always warm up with stretching of at least five minutes to include some cardio prior to beginning the weight training) followed by your cardio workout, you will burn more fat than if you begin your workout with cardio and then proceed to weight training. When you do cardio first, you will fatigue muscles before weight training, thereby decreasing the positive attributes of weight training and, in the end, burn fewer calories. Remember to end with another stretch routine.

Other Benefits? A recent report from the British Journal of Sports Medicine stated that approximately three hours per week of cardio and one to two weekly strength-training sessions not only saw an improvement in the participants’ quality of life, but that the results also indicated that the risk of mortality could decrease by as much as 15 to 30 percent—live longer and with a better quality of life!

Note: Both cardio and weight training produce endorphins, the “feel good hormone,” which serves to benefit mental health.

Conclusion. Include both weight training and cardio in your workouts, in that order, and enjoy the journey as well as the results!

Congratulations to our group exercise challenge winners.