I’m often asked what’s better for health and weight loss – cardio or strength training. The answer is both. Like fish and chips and Ant and Dec, cardio and strength training are a classic combination that are equally important to our all-round health.
Let’s look at why.
But firstly, what is cardio?
Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is anything that gets your heart rate up and makes you sweat. Running, aerobics and my Monday night barre class are all good examples.
There are loads of benefits of cardiovascular training: it’s great for the heart, it improves circulation, increases bone density (which helps combat osteoporosis), and reduces anxiety levels due to the release of endorphins and the happy hormone, serotonin.
Government guidelines suggest adults should do two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.
What is strength training?
Strength training is any form of exercise that makes your muscles stronger. This can be through the use of weights, or exercises that use your own body weight such as press-ups, squats or Yoga. You can also strengthen muscles through resistance based exercise, such as Pilates, which often incorporates different bits of kit like gym bands, balls or the Reformer.
What are the benefits of cardio and strength training?
Burning fat & keeping weight off
Cardio has an advantage when it comes to burning fat and maintaining a healthy weight. You’ll burn way more calories in a spinning class than a Yoga class. However, strength training is great too. After strength training, your muscles need to recover, causing a metabolic spike. So, after your workout, you’ll burn an additional 25% of the calories you burned during your training session. Bonus! As you lift heavier weights and rest for shorter periods, you’ll boost this number.
In addition, the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn daily – even when you’re dozing on the couch. This is because sustaining muscle requires more energy than sustaining fat.
Building Muscle & Strength
The key is to balance your cardio sessions with strength training. For maximum effect, vary your cardio exercise and strength-training routine to challenge different muscle groups and prevent stagnancy. Not only will this trick your body into working harder, but it’ll stop you getting bored with your routine.
Which should you do?
If you want to live a long and healthy life, cardio is non-negotiable. It strengthens your heart and reduces your risk of developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 Diabetes and Osteoporosis. But strength training is equally important. It improves bone and joint function, muscle, tendon and ligament strength, flexibility, and balance. And it’s great for preventing conditions such as osteoporosis.
The recommended amount of strength training activity for adults is twice a week. But you should vary the intensity of your exercise every six to eight weeks to maintain improvement. Variables that can impact on your results include the number of repetitions, sets, breaks between sets and the frequency of sessions.
Book a personal training session
I can create a tailored programme of cardio and strength training for you to make sure you get the maximum benefit from your exercise routine. Give me a call on 0208 579 7879 to book a session.