When discussing the most effective workouts to improve fitness and overall performance we can sometimes get lost. Cardio appears beneficial as it might burn the most amount of calories, while resistance training aids with that toned, defined look. However, we cannot ignore that both cardio and resistance training prove extremely beneficial.
We are looking at two different components of fitness. On one hand we have cardiovascular training, and on the other we have resistance training known as ‘weight lifting’.
Let’s look at the benefits of cardio training first. Cardio is beneficial for both heart and lung function. During a cardio session your heart rate increases, which maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood and ultimately helps you use oxygen more efficiently. Cardio often correlates to your fitness capability and aerobic capacity. During a cardio session you will typically burn more calories than in a weightlifting session.
Moving onto the benefits of weight lifting. When weight lifting, we are essentially creating micro tears in the muscle fibre and the muscle is broken down. When the muscle rebuilds, it becomes larger and stronger. As a result of this muscle breakdown, the body needs to work to repair the muscle, this process can take between 24 to 48 hours. Therefore, you are burning calories over a longer period of time. This translates to a larger TDEE – Total Daily Energy Expenditure (the total amount of calories burnt throughout the day) even at rest while also building muscle.
So what really is more beneficial? The answer is both. Yes you will burn more calories during a cardio session, however you will also burn calories over a longer period of time while weight training, plus you will be building muscle mass while doing so. Both training styles have amazing health benefits and they are both very beneficial. For overall fitness and performance improvements, we would recommend to prioritise your weight training while adding in some cardio. Cardio can be easy to fit into your every day life, be it a walk, taking the stairs or just moving more. While your weightlifting should be more structured to ensure optimal results and recovery. Add in a balanced diet and you have a recipe for success!
-Tracey Collopy, Qualified Personal Trainer and Online Coach @Training W/Tracey