Should I Do Cardio or Should I Lift?

The big question:  should I do cardio or lift weights?!  Which one will help me reach my goal faster?  This is very similar to which came first, the chicken or the egg. . .

The big answer:  You need both!!!   In order to improve your overall fitness level, overall health, and lose body fat (and build or maintain muscle mass) all of your internal systems will benefit from BOTH forms of training.  I will break down the benefits of each in this blog, but please understand that it really isn’t beneficial to choose only one.  Even if aesthetics aren’t your main goal, implementing a blend of cardio and strength training is always your best choice.  These are not just my opinions, but facts backed up by the American Heart Association, Healthline.com, and the Better Health Channel, just to name a few.

I’ll start with my personal favorite – strength training.  I’m not a huge fan of cardio, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE lifting!  There are so many mental and physical benefits to strength training.  Here a just a few:

  • Improves muscle tone and strength
  • Decreases risk of injury (bones and surrounding tissues become stronger and more protective)
  • Reduces risk of osteoporosis
  • Improves and maintains flexibility and balance (which helps us remain independent as we age)
  • Manages weight and increases the fat to muscle ratio
  • Helps prevent, or at least control, chronic conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, back pain, obesity, and depression
  • Improves mobility and balance
  • Improves posture
  • Improves sleep and helps decrease instances of insomnia
  • Improves strength and stamina to make everyday activities more manageable and easier
  • Boosts your metabolism (building muscle increases your metabolic rate as muscle burns more calories than body fat)
  • Decreases abdominal fat
  • Decreases risk of falling

There are various methods of strength training, which means that joining a gym isn’t a necessity if your finances won’t allow for a membership or you find that environment intimidating.  Working out alone is preferable to some, while others flourish in a community workout setting.  Strength training is resistance training, so body weight exercises are a fantastic place to start if you have no equipment.  (Yoga plugs in here nicely.)  Obviously, most gyms provide a wide variety of free weights, cables, and machines.  You can also get amazing benefits and results from barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands at home!

Moving onto cardio!  Just because cardiovascular training isn’t my favorite doesn’t mean it isn’t important.  In conjunction with strength training, cardio is the third part of three crucial components in improving your physical fitness and health.  For the record, nutrition is actually the first component and strength training is the second.  Benefits of cardiovascular training include:

  • Recommended by the American Heart Association for strengthening your heart and helping it operate more efficiently
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Aids in regulating blood sugar
  • Reduces asthma symptoms
  • Reduces chronic pain
  • Helps improve sleep
  • Regulates weight
  • Strengthens immune systems
  • Improves brain function
  • Improves mood
  • Improves endurance

As with strength training, there are various ways to get that cardio in – with or without equipment.  In good weather, you can always take it outside for a walk, run, ride a bike, interval training circuit, create or join a boot camp, jump rope, swim. . .  I love a good interval training circuit to break up the monotony and keep my heart pumping!  Mix in jogs and/or sprints, walking lunges, jumping jacks, plank jacks, pushups, pop squats, step ups on benches, run stairs or hills, etc.  In any weather cardio equipment works great!  Pop in your headphones and get busy on stationary bikes, elliptical machines, treadmills, or a tabata interval session (squat kicks, plank jacks, shoulder taps, burpees, donkey kicks, pop squats, lunges, squats, pushups, etc.)  And don’t ever forget cardio classes!  There are SO many!!  Dance fitness, Zumba, step classes, yoga, pilates, body pump, etc.  I know that all Gold’s Gyms offer a wide variety of classes all times of the day, so you’ll be able to find one that fits in your schedule!

To sum it all up, you definitely need both cardio and strength training to get the best results and to feel your best.  But don’t underestimate the importance of good, clean nutrition!  If you’re increasing your physical activity, you need to FUEL your body with good foods.  Fast foods and junk foods will add to body fat, NOT feed your muscle, gunk up your arteries, and will hurt your workouts.  So get out there and get busy!  You’ll surprise yourself by having fun and looking forward to your next workout!  Personally, weight training is easy for me, and I look forward to it.  Cardio is much easier and more enjoyable for me with friends.  Find your community – or create your own!  Invite friends to workout with you.   Take a class or two; invite friends or make new friends there.  Ask them to join you in the weight room after or before class!

As always – if you just don’t know where to start or need help implementing a plan, please seek out a personal trainer.  I would love to help you reach your goals and live your best life!!  If you don’t have a trainer in mind, click on the Contact Me link on my site and send me an email.  We can at least discuss your goals!

3 thoughts on “Should I Do Cardio or Should I Lift?

  1. Pingback: Should I Do Cardio or Should I Lift? — FTM Wellness | All About Writing and more

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