Exercise is on everyone’s mind these days and crafting the best workout plan is a perennial concern for many. There’s a plethora of opinions on what diet to follow, which exercises to do and exactly how to train, so to help you cut through the mire of obscurity, in this guide we’ll attempt to get to the bottom of the age-old debate between cardiovascular exercise (cardio) and weight training.
Cardio: Anything involving light physical exercise of a relatively low level of intensity is classed as cardio. It is a form of aerobic exercise, which refers to the usage of oxygen to meet the demands of the activity.
Cardio has a range of proven health benefits and can provide a great boost to fitness, in addition to bolstering endurance.
Weight Training: Weight training is an age-old form of developing muscle strength. One of the oldest recognised forms of exercise, this method uses the force of gravity to put strain on the muscles and tends to use a range of specialised equipment, designed to target different areas of the body.
Diet – The third Man: It’s worth noting that whichever training you do, you’ll need to back it up with proper nutrition. It’s hard to over-emphasise the role of diet in getting fit and losing weight so you neglect this factor at your peril.
Cardio’s key advantage comes in the weight loss category of fitness, in that it’s unbeatable when it comes to burning calories. If you do a sufficient amount of cardio exercise to burn more calories than you intake – you’re bound to lose weight.
This method is also brilliant for beginners. It requires no special equipment or training and can take a form that can suit almost any palette – from jogging, to cycling, to various sports and gym equipment.
However, cardio isn’t the be-all and end-all of exercise and with good reason. Many find the repetitive nature of cardio to be a bit of a drag, it doesn’t adequately prepare the heart for extreme changes and stress, and is not efficient at burning calories when you’re not exercising.
Weight training is arguably the most effective – when combined with a good diet – in helping with weight loss. However, the caveat to this is that you need to target the right muscle groups and do an incrementally harder level of repetitions as time goes on to achieve the best results. Weight training also tends to have more of an impact on the body than cardio, necessitating an increased recovery time.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking to gain fitness with your exercise regime, you’ll definitely want to investigate cardio and possibly combine it with a dabble of interval training. While cardio can be of some help with weight loss, those focused solely on shedding the pounds should definitely opt for weight training (although a spattering of cardio won’t do any harm in this regard).