It’s the hot topic (argument?) among people looking to improve their fitness. Which is a better method to achieve a healthy-looking body? What’s the most efficient way to burn calories and what’s the fastest way to wow those around you with a perfectly toned physique? So, which is better: strength training or cardio? We’ll answer your question with another: what are you specifically trying to achieve?
In a broad sense, it’s hard to say one is better than another. When you have a clear goal in mind however it’s a lot easier to work out how to get there. Let’s cover the basic definition of both methods, and discuss the benefits of each for different fitness goals.
Strength Training vs. Cardio
Strength training isn’t all about muscle resistance (but let’s face it, that is a pretty big part). How you do your weight training (eg. Volume/number of reps, rest time, singular or compound movements) determines how your body responds. For increasing strength and building muscle, this is obviously a must, but you can tailor your strength training for weight loss too. In fact, it should absolutely be a part of a weightloss routine, as the more lean muscle you have the more calories you burn at rest. Strength training also grants you a lot of health benefits: stronger bones and heart, blood pressure control, as well as maintenance of sugar levels, cholesterol levels and more.
On the other side of the fence is cardio. This method focuses on our cardiorespiratory system, helping the body bring in the oxygen it needs in its cells. Like strength training, it also has its health benefits. This will not only keep your cardiorespiratory system healthy, but it will also increase your metabolism and will help reduce the recovery time needed and increase endurance. Activities such as going for a walk are considered part of doing cardio since the main component of this activity is to move your body and boost your heart rate.
Comparing their effects
It is generally regarded that cardio is a must in order to lose weight. Losing weight = burning more calories than you take in. Instead of drastically reducing food intake, which can damage your metabolism, adding cardio to your routine is the most efficient calorie burner. As mentioned, strength training trains your body to burn more calories at rest. While this all adds up and is a great boost to weight loss, you aren’t going to burn the same amount of calories in an hour as you do in a spin class just by having more muscle.
What if fat loss isn’t your goal? If you’re seeking to define muscles, increase your strength or max reps then strength training is the better option. Aerobic exercises will help you lose fat but can also break down muscle. They also won’t do much when it comes to tone or defining that specific part of your body that you’re concerned about.
So, who wins? Well, you are the judge. If muscle gain is your goal, maybe cut back on the treadmill time. Looking to lose weight? Get yourself to those HIIT and Spin classes, but don’t forget to incorporate some strength training for making your calorie-burning more efficient.
To help jumpstart your training regime, you can sign up at XFC Gym which provides you 24 7 gym access in Noble Park and Narre Warren. We also have fitness classes and personal trainers to help you find the method that works best for your body and your goals.