Cardio vs. Strength Training: Why You Should do BOTH

balancedBeing a very active person for most of my life, I have learned that there are two unspoken camps in the fitness world: the cardio lovers and the weight lovers. The boundaries in the gym are usually pretty clear. The cardio lovers work on the ellipticals, the stair machines, the stationary bikes, and the treadmills. The weight lovers grunt with the free weights, the bench presses, and the resistance machines. I have a tendency to lean towards the cardio lover side, but as I get old I see the need more and more to mix in more weights. My body just feels better being more balanced!

I have found that it is usually pretty awkward for both parties to cross over. The 250lb man of muscle can feel out of shape next to the petite woman who’s doing high intensity intervals for 45 minutes. On the other hand, some woman who can run a marathon may not understand the basics of a weight program, or she may feel out of her element in the weight room. Of course, it’s not all about gender – there are men and women in both categories – but women tend to want lean, toned physiques while men strive to build bulkier, more muscular bodies.

Fitness is all about balance: a balanced diet, balanced expectations, and balance between work and recovery. That’s why the best workout routines are those that include balanced doses of cardio AND strength training.

For Weight Lovers

TIP: Opt for a low-intensity cardio workout after a heavy lifting session to help eliminate the buildup of lactic acid and speed up your recovery time. Good examples of low-intensity cardio workouts are walking at an incline (3.0 to 4.0) or a light jog that keeps your heart rate up.

If you’re not training to build endurance, you don’t need to push yourself at competitive levels in cardio exercise. In fact, pushing yourself too hard during a cardio routine could hinder your recovery from lifting. The goal is to find a sweet spot of cardio activity that will allow you to reap tits benefits – increased metabolism, stress-relief, increased recovery time, and cardiovascular health – without overworking your muscles.

For Cardio Lovers

TIP: With the exception of a quick 5-10 minute warm up, you should perform your cardio routine AFTER lifting weights, not before. If you want to build a lean, toned body, use light weights and high reps. Those who want to build muscle mass should follow a lifting routine with heavier weights and lower reps. Target different muscle groups each day to allow recovery between sets.

Many cardio lovers don’t realize that building muscle increases metabolism. For every one pound of muscle you gain, your body will burn 30-40 more calories per day. Building muscle can help you lose weight and increase strength, but it has long-term effects as well. With stronger muscles, tendons, and connective tissue, you’ll be less likely to injury yourself – now and when you’re older. By including strength training into a lifelong exercise routine, you’ll be able to prevent many of the injuries associated with bone loss and muscle deterioration as your body ages.

Cardio + Strength Training

Don’t get stuck in an imbalanced routine (I know it can be hard). Venture to the other side of the gym. Or, if you prefer, find the best treadmill or even the perfect home treadmill, or a beginner weight set. Beginner lifters can find strength training routines here, and weight lifters looking to include cardio into their routines can get more information here.

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