The Battle For Exercise Supremacy: Cardio vs. Strength Training
If you have regularly attended a conventional health club, you have probably noticed the workout patterns of your fellow members. You’ve got your elliptical devotees, your treadmill-and-core-work regulars, the spinners, the exhausted-but-smiling-because-their-workout-is-over personal training clientele, the squat-rack junkies, the seemingly arms-only dudes, etc. Each club has its own particular mix of these fitness “species.” But is there an exercise species that is superior to the others, one that might conquer the others in . . . a Survival of the Fittest?
Let’s face it, there’s a finite amount of time that you can (or even want to) spend working out. It’s natural to want to maximize the benefits of the work that you put in. So what should you be doing?
The simple answer is to do what is going to keep you moving! We unfortunately do not burn a whole lot of calories when we are sedentary. If you are not comfortable doing a certain workout or working out in a particular setting, then you are probably not going to stick with it.
That being said, if you do the same workout with minimal variations day in, day out, you are probably not going to see a whole lot of change in your body. You might initially see a change, but eventually you are going to plateau. The human body is an amazing machine and it will adapt to repetition! This is the double-edged sword of doing a workout with which you are comfortable.
So what should we be doing then? The answer is a mix of both cardio AND strength training. Each type of exercise has its benefits and they complement each other. Cardiovascular exercise not only helps burn calories, it also helps strengthen the heart and allows it to pump more blood and oxygen to our muscles. This helps to increase our stamina.
These benefits alone, however, will leave your overall health lacking. That’s where the strength training comes in. While you might think of strength training as an activity that’s going to make you gain weight, it is actually a very effective method for increasing fat loss. “Often we get confused with body fat versus body competition,” says Deon Hannah, personal trainer at FitMe Wellness. “Don’t get fooled by the scale; your weight is not the best indicator of your overall health. Pay more attention to differences in how your clothes fit!”
Studies have shown that the rate at which your body burns calories increases for a period of up to 36 hours after a strength training workout. Just think about it; if you can strength-train every other day, it’s like you’re putting your metabolism on turbocharge for the entire week! And that’s just the short-term weight loss benefit of strength training. Adding muscle to your body also helps you burn fat calories in the long run. Studies have shown that muscle burns three times as many calories at rest as fat.
And those are just the fat-burning benefits of strength training. There’s the obvious benefit we haven’t mentioned yet: getting STRONGER! While we mentioned cardio helps build your stamina, being stronger will also make everyday movements less difficult, which also helps improve your overall energy. Strength training also increase bone density, an important benefit as we grow older.
While some of might be concerned about looking “too muscular,” you really should not be concerned. Gaining muscle takes consistent effort and time; men can generate 1-2 pounds of muscle mass a month from dedicated strength training, while females average between Â½-1 pound per month. And this slight weight gain will probably be balanced out by a concomitant loss in weight from fat if you’re not increasing the amount of calories that you consume.
Are you convinced yet? Get out there and try some new things at your local health club, whether it be with a personal trainer, in a fitness class, or on your own.