If you enjoy exercise, chances are you prefer either cardiovascular training or strength training. Some people love that “runners high” and some people like lifting heavy things and putting them back down. People from both parties will tell you the other party is the devil. Strength trainers will tell you cardio will “wreck your gainz.” Cardio junkies say strength training will make you heavier and thus easier to catch. I am here to tell you they are both wrong and a healthy, balanced relationship between strength and cardio training is what is best for an overall healthy mind, body, and life.
When a newbie is working to lose fat mass, the first thing they usually turn to is a cardio machine. They’re not wrong, totally. They know that moving their body will use up energy and excess energy is what leads to body fat. But is cardio most effective for fat loss? Not quite.
First off, exercise is actually an extremely ineffective way to burn fat. Nutrition and eating at a caloric deficit should be the focus is fat loss is your goal. Exercise can help increase the amount of calories you can eat and still be at a deficit because it utilizes more energy, but you absolutely cannot out exercise a bad diet.
Next, strength training should actually be your priority over cardio. Does that mean you shouldn’t do cardio? NO. But strength training builds muscle. Muscle requires energy to be maintained. Energy comes from calories in food. So, in short, building muscle helps burn a small amount of extra energy you consume, in addition to the extra energy you burn while doing it. This is why people say strength training increases your metabolism.
Finally, we get to cardio. Here’s the deal: your heart is a muscle and you need to work it. The whole HIIT vs LISS debate really doesn’t matter. What does matter is you do some form of cardiovascular activity for 30 minutes, three times a week. It’s not about burning fat; it’s about your overall health.
In case you haven’t picked up on it, both strength training and cardiovascular training are essential to a healthy life.
Strength training can help make your every day functions, from carrying laundry to opening jars to possibly having to lift a car off your child, easier. It strengthens not only your muscles, but your bones as well. It helps to keep your joints safe (if done properly). It counteracts the natural muscle loss that happens as you age. It helps with balance and has numerous other benefits.
Cardio strengthens your heart and lungs and reduces your risk for disease which affects those organs. Cardio releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. Cooling down after strength training with a light intensity cardio session can help decrease your recovery time. It helps to regulate blood sugar. Plus it can help you sleep better.
As you can see both cardio and strength training have a great number of benefits for an overall healthy life. Do them both. Or I’ll find you.