The Benefits of Cardio vs. Weight Training

Cardio and weight training are two very different types of exercise. One is designed to help you lose weight (and improve cardio-pulmonary function) while the other is meant to build muscle (and reduce fat). But whether you’re looking to shed the freshman fifteen (or the long-since graduated thirty…we’ve all been there) or you want to bulk up, there are benefits to both types of exercise. And often, a combination of the two will deliver better results no matter what your end goal is. So if you’re not sure how you can put cardio and weight training to work in order to get the body you want, here are just a few benefits of each that might set you on the right path.

Let’s start with cardio, which is recommended for everyone regardless of how they’re trying to manipulate their musculature. Doctors agree that an average of 30 minutes of cardio 3-5 days a week (depending on intensity) is advisable for everyone. It could be something as simple as walking around the block a few times to engaging in a heart-pounding Zumba class; whatever floats your boat and accounts for your physical limitations. And if you do enough cardio, you will lose weight (it’s a simple matter of burning more calories than you consume).

But even more than that, this type of exercise has the potential to shrink fat cells, tone muscles, increase cardiac function, and generally help you to breathe easier every time you walk up a flight of stairs (hey, don’t knock it…sometimes that’s what it takes to make people realize they need to exercise!). In addition, your body was meant to move. Cardio will loosen tight muscles and increase range of motion (along with circulation), which will help you avoid injury and make you feel energized and happy (hooray for serotonin!). Plus, it’s a great way to reduce stress and regain focus.

So cardio is great. But what about weight training? Certainly it is necessary if you want to bulk up. But did you know that it can help even those who are trying to lose weight? As you may or may not be aware, muscle is actually heavier than fat. So most people in weight-loss programs eschew the use of weights. But this is a mistake. Muscle also burns more calories. So adding some light weight training to your cardio routine, in essence turning your fat into muscle, might make you gain a little initially, but it will help you to lose more (and faster) in the long run, along with creating the lean body you probably crave.

But there’s more. When you start using weights to increase your muscle mass, you don’t just strengthen muscles, you strengthen your whole body and protect it from possible injury. Stronger muscles, ligaments, and joints (the result of weight training) will improve posture and better support your skeletal system, preventing bone loss and even osteoporosis. It has the potential to increase balance, endurance, and stamina, as well. In short, it does a body good. And don’t forget that adding cardio to a weight-training regimen will keep you from adding fat along with muscle when you increase your caloric intake (effectively helping you to cut while you bulk).

So whether your end goal involves losing weight, gaining muscle, or some combination of the two, you should really consider including both cardio and weight training in your exercise routine. The benefits of both cannot be overestimated, not only for longevity, but also for quality of life.

About the Author

Sarah Danielson writes for AdvanceMe, the nation’s leading business cash advance provider.