• Categories

  • Syndicate

  • Archives

Which is Better, Cardio or Resistance Training?

Posted by bmagnus On February - 17 - 2010

One of the great exercise controversies of the last few decades is whether most people are better off doing cardio exercise or strength resistance training. One side states that cardio is the way forward, and that heart-pumping workouts such as biking, swimming, running, hiking, aerobic dance, and even walking are the best way to get and stay fit. The other side insists that you need good old fashioned resistance training, either with your own body weight or with equipment such as barbells to really call yourself fit.

The answer: You need both.

Cardio training has some great benefits without question. It strengthens our hearts and lungs so we can get up and do the many things we do each day. It improves our blood pressure. It can help us burn stored fat in our bodies, and thus help us lose weight. Weight-bearing cardio activities can help build stronger muscles and bones. Some cardio activities — such as biking or walking — can help us get around town in a manner that can be both efficient and fun. We can use cardio equipment such as treadmills and stationary bikes while we catch up on the evening news or our favorite TV shows, working out instead of becoming couch potatoes. Because many cardio activities require no specialized equipment, it’s easy for most people to get started.

By contrast, strength training will do a little bit for the heart, but more importantly it will strengthen the various skeletal muscles. It will increase the amount of muscle fiber and give you “shape.” Because muscle fiber is made of living cells, strength training will increase the metabolism. This means you will be burning more calories every minute of the day, whether you are awake or asleep, not just while you are working out. This is especially important for people over the age of 30, whose metabolisms may be slowing due to age and hormonal declines. Because you will have stronger back, shoulder, and hip muscles, your posture will be better.

Put the two together for the best possible results from exercise, including a great looking body, a positive impact on your cholesterol levels, better mood and sleep, more resilient bones and connective tissues, a lower resting heart rate, more endurance for any activities you participate in, lower risk for many serious and/or chronic diseases, and generally better health. And of course, for the best results, don’t forget a bit of flexibility training too.

Many people think they don’t have time for that, but that is simply not true! Let’s take the current recommendation: a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity on most days. in that amount of time, you can do a split routine of cardio three times a week, resistance 2 days a week, and one day dedicated to flexibility — and active recovery. If you prefer to do a routine that is largely the same each day, try a 5 minute warm up and stretch, 10 minutes of fairly vigorous cardio (your own definition of vigorous will be fine!), 10 minutes of strength training including at least one exercise for each major muscle group (legs, butt, abs, back, chest, shoulders, biceps, and triceps; here’s some examples of exercises that require no external weights), and a 5 minutes cool-down with stretch. There are of course many programmed workouts that you can do in a half hour and will keep you on track, such as 10 Minute Trainer.

Fitness takes a little more than a regular walk around the mall, but it doesn’t have to be complicated either.

Comments are closed.