Cardiovascular training or resistance training: which one?
Despite the constantly changing fads in the field of fitness and health, there is one undeniable certainty; whether society is placing stress on cardiovascular/aerobic training (“cardio”) or resistance training (“lifting”) at the time, the truth is that they are both necessary for overall health/wellness and are exceptionally beneficial in several different ways. So if you are wondering which one to focus on, the answer is both! Of course, your approach may vary based on your goals; for example, an endurance athlete might place much more stress on cardiovascular training, while a body builder will focus mostly on heavy resistance training. However, for general/overall fitness, a combination of both types of training is essential for becoming your healthiest self. Some of these benefits overlap, but each type of training also has advantages of its own.
The primary benefits of cardiovascular training include:
- Weight loss/maintenance
- Reduced long term fatigue (increased stamina)
- Healthier immune system
- Reduced risks of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.
- Improved mood
- Increased longevity
Meanwhile, the primary benefits of resistance training include:
- Increased lean muscle mass
- Boosted metabolism*
- Weight loss/ maintenance
- Reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc.
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis and sarcopenia (the loss of muscle mass with age)
- Improved quality of life
Lean muscle requires a high level of upkeep in the body. In other words, the more muscle mass an individual has, the more energy the body uses to preserve that muscle. Therefore, the theory behind a boost in metabolism as a result resistance training comes from the idea that muscle burns calories from simply being. So, the more lean muscle mass there is, the more calories are burned at rest. For individuals with varying interests or goals, there are several different types of resistance training. These include, but are not limited to:
- Body weight
- Free weights (dumbbells or kettlebells)
- Weight machines
- Medicine balls
- Resistance bands
And the best part? Cardiovascular training and resistance training are not mutually exclusive. By combining resistance training with aerobic exercise, you can achieve the benefits of both in a much more advantageous time period. For example, incorporating lower weight, repeated resistance exercises into a fast paced circuit can simulate the nature of aerobic training while also prompting your muscles to increase in size.
To read up more on resistance training and aerobic exercise, check out the article below!
Stephanie Spoto, CSCS