Between social media feuds and sports rivalries, we often face decisions that require us to pledge our allegiance to one side of the polarizing arguments: New York Yankees v. Boston Red Sox? Pepsi v. Coca-Cola? Samsung v. Apple? Marvel v. DC Comics? Cardi B v. Nicki Minaj? While we aim to remain loyal to our favorite products and celebrities, what decisions are we making about our bodies?
If you go through the grocery store check-out, the odds are high that you will encounter a magazine cover guaranteeing, “Six-Pack Abs in Six Hours.” While this headline catches our eyes, we can easily identify that this is a false promise. Nonetheless, we leave the grocery store asking ourselves, “But how do I tone my body?” The answer to the question is a complex, long-standing debate - What is more beneficial? Cardio or weight lifting?
What is the difference between cardio and weight training?
Weight training, also referred to as strength training, lifting, resistance training, or weight lifting, is exactly what it sounds like - lifting heavy stuff. There are obvious advocates who prefer strength training over cardio training - powerlifters, olympic lifters, body builders, and strong man lifters. Strength training includes equipment such as dumbbells, barbells, body bars, kettlebells, resistance bands, sandbags, weight machines, and etc. Overall, the goal for weight training is to build muscles and strength.
Cardio, also known as cardiovascular conditioning, is any form of activity that increases the body’s respiration and heart rate. Common forms of cardio include running, cycling, swimming, rowing, jumping rope, and stair climbing. Cardio can be completed as a group activity or individually. Generally, cardio junkies are focused on their cardiovascular fitness and weight loss.
The outward differences between weight lifting and cardio exercises are obvious, but what about what is happening inside our bodies?
Benefits of Cardio
Cardiovascular conditioning is any activity that gets your blood pumping and large muscle groups in motion. Examples include, but are not limited to, brisk walking, swimming, heavy cleaning or gardening, running, cycling, playing soccer, and etc.
Cardiovascular conditioning has multiple benefits:
Improves heart health
Lowers blood pressure
Regulates blood sugar
Reduces asthma symptoms
Decreases chronic pain
Strengthens immune system
Improves brain power
Experts on #teamcardio recommend 30 minutes of cardio exercises at least 5 times a week. For those seeking weight loss, it is important to note that cardio burns more calories during the workout. It is not difficult to integrate cardio into your everyday routine as most cardiovascular conditioning does not require machinery or equipment.
“The beautiful thing about running is that you can do it anywhere and it too can be constantly varied. Flat or hilly terrain, fast or slow, weighted or unweighted, inside or outside, alone or with a group… running doesn’t ever have to be boring!” Sarah Kline, Jamerson Crossfit, Lynchburg, Virginia
Benefits of Weight Training
Exercises that require short bursts of elevated energy are labeled as anaerobic exercises. “Anaerobic” is a term that means “without oxygen.” Wait...what? Powerlifters workout without oxygen? No, not exactly. While aerobic exercises rely on a steady supply of oxygen to maintain levels of energy (think jogging, cycling, walking), anaerobic exercises require elevated levels of energy that our aerobic system can’t produce as quickly as our bodies need it. Consequently, to compensate for the lack of oxygen, our bodies are fueled using the glucose stored in our muscles in a process called glycolysis. Anaerobic exercises increase bone strength, promote weight maintenance, increase power, boost metabolism, increase lactic threshold, fight depression, reduce the risk of disease, and boost energy levels. For athletes with weight loss goals, weight training is beneficial because it causes a metabolic disturbance that elevates the metabolism for several hours even after the workout has concluded. Overall, the numerous benefits to strength training will have a great impact on your body and mind.
“Years of cardio workouts only led me to aching knees. I remember one year, I ran almost two miles daily, and I was constantly in pain. Now, I am at a powerlifting gym, and I am much happier. While I have not lost pounds, I have gained muscle mass as a powerlifter. I keep coming back to powerlifting because of the strength that I have gained and the challenges that await me each time.” -Daniel Bragg, Legendary Strength Gym, Lynchburg, Virginia
Settle the Debate
Okay, so now that you have considered the benefits of each training style, it’s time to settle the debate. What is more important to you? Improve your heart health or increase your power? Increase your endurance or increase your strength? Which fitness approach is better suited for your lifestyle? Having trouble identifying which training method is better for you? Well, you’re not alone... the decision is not as simple as choosing between Coca Cola v. Pepsi. Because of the multiple benefits to both cardiovascular conditioning and weight lifting, it is difficult to decide.
What if there was a way to reap the rewards of both cardio and strength training in one workout? Good news! Through the programming and exercises of functional fitness, this is possible. Incorporating both cardio and weight lifting into your workout routine is extremely beneficial for all ranges of athletes.
“Growing up, I was a competitive gymnast, and I suffered from a few injuries. Afterwards, I was always too scared to try new types of exercises in fear of worsening previous injuries. At Align Athletics, I have learned so much, and I am constantly learning something new each and every day. Through functional fitness programming, my overall health has drastically improved. The combination of weight lifting and cardio is the *chef’s-kiss*. I feel strong, powerful, and confident! I love Align Athletics!” -Liz Marny, Align Athletics, Lynchburg, Virginia
If you are searching for a functional fitness gym that can provide you with the benefits of both cardiovascular conditioning and weight lifting, look no further than Align Athletics. Our gym offers programming to include a combination of cardio and strength training for all skill levels. Not local to Lynchburg, Virginia? Use keywords in your search engine such as #functionalfitness #physicalfitness #gymsnearme #exercise #strengthgains to find a gym for you.