There are two kinds of people: those who love running, and those who loathe it. I’ve never met anyone who expressed any emotion between love and hate when it comes to cardio. Read all about the cardio vs. weights benefits.
I must confess, I detest cardio with the fire of a thousand suns. But I’ll put my personal bias aside today to answer one of the most frequently-asked training questions of all time: which is better, cardio or weightlifting?
Honestly, there’s no black-and-white, yes-or-no answer to that question. It truly depends on your training history, current fitness level, and personal goals.
Cardiovascular training is great for increasing your heart health, improving stamina, and being able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded. It’s also important for recovery from weightlifting sessions – a steady-state cardio workout increases blood flow, bringing essential nutrients to your muscles to help them recover after lifting weights. In fact, cardio also helps you recover faster between sets during your workouts so that you can do more work in less time.
Lifting weights build muscular strength, increases muscle tone, builds bone density, and improves your hormonal profile (increased insulin sensitivity means you can eat more carbs without worrying about packing on body fat). Recent research* has also shown that resistance training is just as beneficial as cardio for heart health.
Most importantly, being strong makes everything else in life easier – from carrying all your groceries in one trip to spending all day on the slopes, everything you love to do is easier when you’re strong.
It’s not “cardio or weightlifting”,but rather, both.
How much emphasis you put on cardio versus weightlifting will depend on the goal of your training program. If you’re out of shape and just starting back at the gym, a plan that emphasizes cardio may be in your best interest. This will build a solid foundation for later training and help with your recovery between lifting sessions. If you’re training for a race, you’ll also want to emphasize cardio.
But those are special situations. The vast majority of people should emphasize resistance training because you simply get much more bang for your buck from lifting weights. Cardio makes you better at cardio; weight training makes you strong enough to tackle everything life throws your way.
I recommend 3-4 full body weightlifting sessions per week for most people who want to be fit and healthy. Sprinkle in some interval training and one longer cardio workout each week, and you have a recipe for awesome fitness gainz 🙂