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How To Balance Cardio vs Strength Training

How To Balance Cardio vs Strength Training

Nicollette Guido |

How to Find the Perfect Balance Between Cardio vs Strength Training

Finding a workout routine that easily fits into your busy schedule can be challenging. When faced with the dilemma of picking the best exercise, many of us often choose between cardio or strength training– hardly thinking to settle for both.

You could decide to get an exercise routine for overall fitness, weight loss, or health benefits. While different forms of cardio and strength training are suitable as stand-alone forms of exercise, combining them provides maximum results and balance.  

What is the Difference Between Cardio and Strength Training?

Cardio and strength training is a classic training combination like salt and pepper. To maintain a healthy weight and build muscle, you need to embrace the difference in the two workouts that combine beautifully to benefit your body.  

Cardio Training

Cardio exercise and aerobics are physical activities that increase your heart rate, making your lungs work harder than usual. Aerobic workouts produce energy with the use of oxygen in the body. This exercise challenges your cardiovascular system, heart, blood vessels, and the respiratory system, lungs, blood vessels, and lungs.

Doing cardio training should not be limited to the gym; instead, you should be able to do the exercises from your comfort. By simply engaging in some workouts like running, walking, or dancing, you can increase your metabolic and heart rate, achieving your fitness goal.

Strength Training

Strength training is better known as weight lifting or resistance training. The workout includes using resistance exercises to contract your muscle for muscle building. Weight lifting is designed to improve muscular strength by using targeted exercise and external resistance. Some of the external resistance include the use of:

  • Dumbbells
  • Body bars
  • Kettlebells
  • Resistance band
  • Stability ball

Contrary to popular belief, strength training is not restricted to bodybuilders, as it's equally beneficial to people of all ages. For example, regular strength training helps prevent loss of lean muscle mass (sarcopenia), especially in older people. In addition, weight training is beneficial to people with chronic conditions such as obesity, arthritis, and diabetes.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the physical activity guidelines for Americans.1 It recommends children and adolescents aged between six and 17 to incorporate strength training during their physical activities.

Importance of Balance During Strength Training and Cardio Training

Your training goals define the balance between cardio and strength training. For instance, someone looking to body build will have a different training program than someone looking to complete their first 10k race.

Below are the importance of balancing between the two workouts depending on your workout goal.

Weight Loss

Burning fat at optimum levels requires your body to be hydrated to fully utilize your carbohydrates or stored glycogen. Start with resistance training for about 20 - 30 minutes for fast fat metabolism. After resistance training, be ready to burn fat at a higher rate by including a cardio workout.

Keep your heart rate in the fat-burning zone. To calculate your fat-burning zone, use the Karvonen formula—Maximum heart rate minus your age equals your targeted heart range. Another option is working out within a comfortable and controlled heart range with minor discomfort.

For example, exercising for weight loss is ideally supposed to be done at intervals. It includes two to three strength training sessions and one longer intense cardio session. Finding the balance between gaining and maintaining muscle(getting enough calories to support muscles and doing enough cardio workouts to burn fat) is the key to noticing progress in your weight loss journey.

Muscle Building

Building muscles requires more strength training than cardio workouts. This is because cardio tends to burn muscle in addition to fat. However, this should not be a reason to entirely forgo the exercise; you can achieve your muscle-building goals by reducing the intensity and frequency of cardio workouts.

Your focus on muscle building should be accompanied by great nutrition, three to five sessions of weight lifting per week, and two to three days of cardio. Have a good pre and post cardio nutrition to prevent significant muscle loss and to repair worn-out tissues.

Overall Health

For optimum health results, use the fat reduction method of resistance training followed by cardio. An overall healthy body consists of lean muscle gain, body fat reduction, and great cardiovascular function. Combine anaerobic activities like lifting weights and aerobics such as running or walking to help achieve balance between strength and cardio training.

To increase your cardiovascular function, fat loss, and lean muscle gains, start with your strength training exercise routine followed by a cardio workout. If you're looking to improve your cholesterol blood counts, start with cardio workouts then finish off with weightlifting.

While cardio workouts or strength training are good individually, incorporating the two workouts optimizes your health. The exercises increase your body performance and help ward off lifestyle diseases and other conditions.

Strength Training Vs. Cardio Training - Which is Better for Weight Loss?

The best exercise for weight loss is still a matter of constant debate. Cardio enthusiasts support weight loss through cardio since the activity increases your heart rate, which torches the calories, resulting in burning fat.

On the other hand, weight trainers believe excess fat is best shed by increasing muscle mass. Weight lifting results in your body burning more calories over a more extended period throughout the day.

Both arguments are true, making no single workout better than the other. The best exercise for weight loss is one that you are consistent with. Settling for one training activity can be monotonous. Periodically changing your routine can improve your adherence to exercising, ultimately helping you achieve your weight loss goal. Incorporating different types of strength training and conditioning equipment and switching up your cardio routine helps to prevent muscles from growing used to the same exercises.

For example, after you’ve completed your cardio workout using a non motorized treadmill or exercise bike with a fan wheel, end your routine with weightlifting or kickboxing. Targeting different muscles in your body will prevent muscle injuries caused by straining and stressing the same muscles.

What are the Primary Reasons for Cardio Training?

Besides the usual benefits of cardio – improving cardiovascular health, losing weight, and lowering your blood pressure, cardio training is incredibly beneficial to people with chronic sleep disorders such as insomnia.

About 50 - 70 million American adults experience acute sleeping disorders.2 A study revealed that insomniac patients could rest better throughout the night with regular cardio training combined with sleep hygiene education.3 

In addition to sleeping better, aerobic training improves the quality of your brain, especially as you age. Your brain slowly loses tissue from the age of 30, making you prone to brain atrophy and other associated conditions as you age.4 Scientists have uncovered that cardio workouts help slow the process and improve your cognitive performance.5 

What is the Primary Reason For Strength Training?

There are different types of strength training forms which include but are not limited to:

  • Muscular hypertrophy - the use of moderate to heavy weight training equipment to stimulate muscle growth
  • Muscle endurance - training your muscle's ability to withstand intense exercises

Overall, strength training makes you stronger and decreases the risk of falling. For example, in recent research, adults above 60 years showed a 34% reduction in falls for those who engaged in a well-rounded program that included strength training and resistance exercises.6 

How Often Should You Engage in Cardio Vs. Strength Training?

Your fitness goals depend on how often you need to engage in strength or cardio training. For instance, losing weight, building muscle, increasing endurance and stamina requires a different training approach.

The American Heart Association (AHA) advises using both aerobic and anaerobic activities to burn fat and have proper muscle balance for cardiovascular training and weight loss.7 Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise and 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic training per week. Generally, 30 minutes of moderate workout for five days and 15 minutes of active exercises for five days.

The moderate workouts include:

  • Gardening
  • Brisk walking
  • Dancing
  • Playing tennis and other light games

Vigorous activities include:

  • Swimming
  • Rope jumping
  • Hiking uphill
  • Vigorous yard work like digging
  • Running

What Does my Body Type Have to do With How often I Engage in Cardio Vs. Strength Workout?

Understanding your body type is an important factor to consider in how long you will work out. Each of us has a genetic disposition on the physiological design that determines our body type. By correctly identifying your body type, you will be able to allocate the needed time for more significant results.

There are three main body types:

  • Ectomorphs - have lean bodies (little fat and little muscle)
  • Mesomorphs - tend to have a high muscle to fat ratio
  • Endomorphs - have a high percentage of fat and less muscle mass

For ectomorphs, they should ideally spend three times a week engaging in muscle resistance training and two times a week for cardio workouts for thirty minutes. On the other hand, mesomorphs should engage in 30 - 45 minutes of cardio, three to five times a week, combined with 30 minutes of strength training, two to three times a week.

Finally, endomorphs are recommended to incorporate high intensity interval training (HIIT workout) for two to three days a week and four days of weight training.

Get Your Cardio and Strength Training Down With Tru Grit

Whether you are starting your fitness journey or are a veteran in the game, cardio and strength training workouts are recommended for all ages. Tru Grit has training equipment for both workouts that ensure maximum usage of your muscles, improving your overall well-being.