Lifting vs. Cardio: Which is Better for You?

The fitness world has always been divided to two sides: there are those who advocate weight training and there are those who swear by the blessing effects of running miles on the treadmill. However, depending on your fitness goals, both lifting and cardio can have great benefits for you. Here’s what you need to know.

First Step: Understand Your Goals

Are you training for a marathon? Or have you been neglecting your diet and got stuck with a few extra pounds? Perhaps you’ve made a break from exercising and now need to find a way to get back on track or you’ve finally decided to push your body to the limits and transform it completely? Whatever the case may be, keep in mind that every specific goal demands the right approach. People who don’t have a defined fitness plan usually hold on to the common knowledge that cardio works the best for fat loss, while weight training is the only method for building muscle mass. Shocking as it may be, but this is one of the biggest misconceptions out there.

Benefits of Weight Lifting

Here’s what you probably didn’t know about weight training: if done with the right intensity, the optimal number of repetitions, and the proper variation of the muscle groups targeted, lifting increases the number of calories burned even in the aftermath (i.e. after you’ve finished working out). Metabolism increases up to 36 hours after you’ve finished your training session, meaning you’ll burn more calories even when you’re still. A little bit of fun calculating for you: for every three pounds of muscle you build, you can expect to burn up to 120 calories extra per day. If you’re consistent with your muscle workout regime, you can boost your metabolism rates on the long run.

Always take in mind the safety measures. With weights, there is a high risk of injury and every type of exercise needs to be done properly. Let personal trainers help you at first and ask them for advice regarding the equipment you need. You’re likely going to need gym gloves to prevent getting calluses on your hands, as well as high-quality bodybuilding shoes that will provide the needed support and enhance your performance. These usually have thin soles and extra secure fastenings.

Myths and Truths About Cardio Training

Longer cardio sessions with a moderate pace can burn somewhere between 400 and 800 calories, depending on the exact duration of training, weight of the person exercising, the terrain (in case of running in the open), and of course – the exact tempo. Experts say you need to burn around 3500 calories to get rid of just one pound. There are undeniable health benefits of doing cardio, such as strengthening heart and lungs, building stamina, reducing stress, increasing bone density, and of course – bettering mental health (i.e. feeling overall more positive and confident, having more energy, and enjoying a better sleep at night). And yes, it is true that cardio is effective for fat loss. But – consistency is the key here.

A person would have to commit to long sessions for months before they start seeing some results. Long running or cycling periods can be very time-consuming and might start feeling monotonous, which is why most of the people turn to HIIT training. High-intensity interval training is all about giving 100% of effort and strength through intense and quick bursts of exercise and then taking an active break to recover. This way, your heart rate stays up and your body burns more calories, which means higher fat loss.

And the Verdict Goes to…?

It seems that the fitness world got used to thinking in binary categories, making people choose between cardio and weight training. The fact is, some of the healthiest and most ripped bodies actually turn to combining the two. And you should, too. No matter what your end goal is, try committing to at least 15 minutes of cardio before the weight training session and 15 minutes of cardio at the end of the workout. Of course, stretching is crucial before leaving the gym. This way, you’ll never get bored and your body will be engaged at all times. You will transform your looks much faster while enjoying greater health benefits.

 

Image courtesy of [David Castillo Dominici] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Image courtesy of [nenetus] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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