Cardio Versus Weights: What’s The Right Balance?
You don’t have to be a fitness guru to know there’s a debate between cardio and weights. But what’s the right path when you’re trying to get lean and fit? Do you have to focus more on cardio or are weights the better way to go?
If you’re like me when I first started, you’re probably just trying to figure things out. Well, if you’ve been doing your research, I’m sure you’re already super-confused and overwhelmed by all the information out there. Some people will tell you it’s enough to keep on doing your cardio routine, but then you’ll go to the next fitness guru and they’ll tell you strength exercises are the miracle workout you have to do.
So which is it? Below we explore the best routines to follow when you want a slim body with the added benefit of muscle definition.
Cardio vs. Weights
Before I starting talking about routine, I think it’s best to let you guys know why it’s important to have balance in your training.
First of all, when your goal is weight loss, most people will recommend you focus on cardio.
It’s sad that even so-called pro trainers would put you on a treadmill and leave you there to sweat away. It’s not the best solution, and by the end of the day, you won’t burn that much fat anyway. You need at least a session of 70 to 80 minutes of intense exercise to switch your body to fat burning mode and this is difficult even for advanced athletes!
If you focus on cardio, you’ll end up (eventually) being slimmer, but there won’t be any muscle definition.
On the other hand, if you focus only on weights, you’ll bulk up. Ladies may bulk up less, because it’s not in our genes, but still, muscles will develop. Ultimately there won’t be any leanness to your body.
This is why you have to combine the two in a balanced routine.
Cardio and Weights
It’s recommended to follow a routine that allows you to incorporate both steps into every training session. For instance, if you do your workouts at home, rowing machines are a great option for cardio but they also significantly strengthen your shoulders and back muscles. The best rowing machines, like concept 2 rowers, can even be hired online.
But if you’re more of a gym rat, you can start with a 30 to 45 minutes cardio routine where you keep your heart rate high. To make sure you are actually working at a rate where your body is working hard, you should be sweating and breathing heavily by the end of the routine.
Cardio can mean anything from using a treadmill, stationary bicycle, stepper, or a HIIT routine. So you have plenty of options.
Once you’re done with cardio, you can take a few minutes break and head on to weights or strength exercises. If you’re just starting, you can focus on resistance training, where you are using the weight of your body to create muscles. This can be push-ups, squats, hip thrusts, and so on.
It’s vital that the workout puts stress on your body and pushes you to your limit. So, if you’re working your arms, they should be burning up by the end of your routine.
If you want to do weights, it’s great to start with dumbbells and move up to more advanced exercises such as deadlifts when you feel comfortable. Always start on a low weight and work your way up – your body will adapt and grow quickly. Talk to a trainer about this and test yourself with smaller weights. You can move up from there, but muscle injuries are common when you first start out so make sure to take the proper precautions to avoid this.
Exercises for Both
It might seem like a pain doing separate routines for cardio and weights, so another option is to focus on machines and exercises that help you do both at the same time.
Some great examples of such exercises are sled runs, rowing, using dumbbells while doing cardio, and more.
There is no universal recipe to apply, but it’s essential that you find a way to include both cardio and weight exercises into your routine. This can be more difficult if you work out from home, so buying or hiring a treadmill or other cardio equipment should be a consideration. Test several combinations, work with different machines, and find a mix of exercises that work for you.