Cardio and strength training are a classic combination. Every strong fitness regimen contains both, and if they are employed correctly, you can burn off all the calories you’ve consumed eating all that PB&J, and . . . well, you get the picture. Although they both benefit your body and strengthen your muscles, the difference between cardio and strength training is significant. To maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and live a long life, you need to embrace both.
Cardio is short for cardiovascular exercise, which refers to endurance exercise that strengthens your body’s circulatory system (the heart and blood vessels). Examples include running, biking, dancing, and tennis. Strength training is exercise that uses resistance to contract muscles in order to increase strength, boost anaerobic endurance, and build skeletal muscles. Examples include weight training, pilates, yoga, and bodyweight exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups.
It is a common misconception that cardio simply burns fat and strength training simply builds muscle. In reality, both forms of exercise provide numerous benefits, and everyone (no matter what their age, sex, or fitness goals) should do both on a regular basis.
BURNING FAT & KEEPING OFF WEIGHT
Cardio has an advantage when it comes to burning fat and maintaining a healthy weight. You will undoubtedly burn more calories during your cardio session. However, strength training is essential as well. After strength training, your muscles will need to recover, causing a metabolic spike. So after your workout ends, you will burn an additional 25% of the calories you just burned during your strength training session. If you lift heavier weights and rest for shorter periods, you can boost this number. In addition, the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn on an everyday basis (even if you’re just sitting on the couch) because sustaining muscle requires more energy than sustaining fat.
BUILDING MUSCLE & GAINING STRENGTH
Although cardio can certainly help you boost your muscle mass and gain strength, if performed too frequently or intensely, it may prevent you from gaining significant muscle mass. The key is to balance your cardio sessions with strength training. Vary your strength-training routine to challenge different muscles and prevent stagnancy. Not only will this trick your body into working harder and increase your muscle mass, but it will save you from boredom!
If you want to live a long and healthy life, cardio is non-negotiable. It strengthens your heart and reduces your risk of developing a number of different health conditions, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis. Strength training is still crucial though and will make a big difference in your senior years. To fight bone loss and muscle loss, continue strength training as you age.
Although there is a vast difference between cardio and strength training, both should be considered crucial components of your fitness routine. To be sure you can fit them both into your schedule, invest in some home gym equipment.