Exercise Cardio vs. Weights for Women

Cardio vs. Weights for Women

Cardio or Weights?

With so much conflicting information floating around these days regarding health and fitness, how do we determine which type of exercise is most beneficial? Firstly you will need to decide what your overall goal is. This may be weight/fat loss (will discuss differences later), sports performance or even just general improved health and well-being. Once you have outlined your goal the next step is to identify how you will get there. Don’t worry if you have no idea keep reading. There are many different ways to incorporate both weights/resistance and cardio style training into your routine. Each comes with their own benefits and limitations depending on your overall goal.

Cardiovascular exercise

Benefits: improved endurance, increased fat burning potential per minute, strengthens the heart, increases lung capacity, improves physical and mental health

Limitations: possibly time-consuming, reduced muscle mass/skinny fat, injury susceptibility

Weight/resistance training

Benefits: increased strength, improved physical and mental health, increased muscle mass/toning, higher post-exercise fat burning potential, time efficient, focus on different

Limitations: body parts can be intimidating for newbies, injury susceptibility

Beauty & the bulk

Unfortunately, some females still have the impression that lifting weights will make them big and bulky. Ladies lets squash that myth right now! Yes, you may see some female bodybuilders with bigger biceps than Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, unless you plan on spending all your time in the gym lifting seriously heavy weights, eating your body weight in protein/supplements and possibly taking some sort of testosterone enhancer it’s unlikely you will end up anywhere near this.

It takes some females years of dedication to achieve such physiques (especially naturally). Whilst it might be pretty impressive, it’s not for everyone. There really is no need to be scared of the weights area in the gym anymore. As a matter of fact, there is so much you can gain from adding weight training into your routine no matter what your goals are. Weight training is not only great for burning calories whilst you are in the gym. Your body will also be burning calories up to 48 hours after you’ve finished your workout!

If this huge benefit alone does not have you running to the squat rack then you may be interested to hear that weight training can help you to sculpt different areas of your body to achieve that perfect hourglass figure (or whatever other shape) you’ve always wanted. In addition to having a significant impact of boosting your metabolism and body toning, weight training can also help you improve your strength and help you to feel overall more empowered – girl power!

Skinny fat

You may have seen the term skinny fat floating around which refers to when a person has relatively low muscle mass and a high body fat percentage. Taking part in too much cardio, not eating enough and/or the correct foods and also not doing enough weight training can lead to the dreaded “skinny fat” syndrome. In order to avoid this, the right balance of all the above is necessary. In addition, adhering to other healthy lifestyle habits may also help which may include: limiting alcohol intake, stress management, reducing sugar intake, keeping active outside the gym and getting enough sleep.

Weight loss or fat loss?

What’s the difference you may ask, and do not worry you aren’t alone in asking. Many people confuse weight loss and fat loss to be the same however, this is most definitely not the case. Weight loss can be a combination of losing fat ​and​ muscle. Fat loss is strictly just losing fat whilst maintaining muscle mass. Weight loss can be a lot easier to achieve than fat loss, but it runs the risk of becoming skinny fat! To attain weight loss many people do hours of cardio and crash diets to achieve a significant calorie deficit. This is also often done in a short period of time and doesn’t always have the best health outcomes.

Fat loss, on the other hand, may be a slightly longer process, but the results are much more rewarding. Also sustainable which means there is less chance of gaining the fat back once you’ve achieved your goal. Research suggests that a mix of cardio and weight training is optimal for fat loss. An example of this may be 2-4 x weight training sessions and 1-2 x cardio sessions per week. If you are limited on time HIIT training is a great weight to kill two birds with one stone (not literally #GoVegan). HIIT training could be a 30 min circuit a few times a week or even 10 min sprint intervals on the treadmill before or after your weight training session.


As discussed both cardio and weight training have their pros and cons. Which is best suited to you is down to what you would like to achieve and your personal preferences. If your focus is on
general health and wellbeing doing whichever activity you enjoy the most regularly will work just fine. Although if your goals are based around improving how you look and feel you may want to find a way to incorporate both, however, with the main focus on weight training. If you would like help getting started with setting up a program feel free to drop me a message.

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