Cardio vs. strength training: Which is better?
Strength and conditioning, when applied correctly, can help you significantly decrease injuries. Strength training can also help get rid of stubborn elbow, neck, knee, and back pain. For example, it can off-set ailments caused by sitting posture. What's more, strength training helps you lose and maintain weight, and get leaner and faster overall. Strength and conditioning will help enhance your performance in and out of the gym, and these performance, enhancement, and longevity benefits far surpass the benefits from cardio.
Strength training will determine how you live
I would like to simply look at strength training’s life benefits. I want to live a full life. Full of adventure and confidence and great experience. This is why I travel, and it is also exactly why I train. When you strength train, you are undoubtedly building a body that can do things, a body more prepared to take on life’s challenges and perks. This week, if you can believe it, I spent several days riding and training with elephants, an activity I would have never been able to have if I didn't first have an agile, fit, and strong body!
Strength training will determine how you age
Longevity is important as well. When we think of strength training, we have to think of creating a path for the future of our body. Studies have shown time and time again that lifting weights will directly contribute to a high level of longevity. When you strength train throughout your life, your body, as you age, will maintain its bone density and muscle composition and that muscle will protect your joints, ligaments, bones, and organs. In fact, strength training works directly against the aging of your body— from muscle loss (known as sarcopenia) to bone density issues (known as osteoporosis).
Strength training will determine how you burn fat
Muscle is far more metabolically active than fat—actually almost six times more! Building strong muscle doesn’t mean getting big; a pound of muscle has 80% more volume than a pound of fat. Surprisingly, a pound of fat uses one to two calories of energy, whereas a pound of muscle uses six. Once you picture these numbers, you can quickly understand how just burning calories through cardio won’t do the trick. But strength training will build muscle that will transform your health and body composition in a big way!
Strength training will determine your injury potential
True and smart exercise in the form of weight training can help you become stronger, increase your muscular endurance, and become less susceptible to injury. Engaging in regular exercise can improve body composition and increase cardiorespiratory functioning. In training, you need to leave the training floor stronger and more energized, not broken down and hurting. Exercise is never just about doing something—it’s about doing something correctly to achieve a specific goal. So instead of doing, doing, and going (i.e. doing 100 burpees or training until you're about to pass out), focus on mastering great form, paying attention to your biomechanics and your breathing, and making sure your reps, sets, moves, and time intervals mimic your goals. Go slow enough to make real gains.
How can you use it to your advantage?
Simply incorporating strength training into any workout program will give you an edge when it comes to fitness and health. And it will give you the luxury to pick a variety of workout options that work for you. Building muscle means having to do less of a pluses and minuses game with your food, and enjoying your body and its strength more.
Three basic strength training rules to follow
The key is simple — in your workouts, you must do these three things (nothing more and nothing less):
- Strength train
- Strength train measurably and consistently
- Strength train the body in all movement patterns
If you employ these three basics, you can place your workout in any context you want: twenty minutes daily, thirty minutes every other day, sixty minutes twice a week. The key is to make sure what you do engages your muscles safely and enough to facilitate change. You also want to make sure your routine is consistent enough for you to progress and that it challenges and engages every movement pattern to cover all muscle groups.
Focus on movement patterns
Movement patterns are essential to your success in any workout. The simplest way to do this is to have a push, pull, hip hinge, and knee bend in every workout you do. So long as you balance the workout in all areas of movement, you will see great results with any tool or amount of time, reps, and sets.
Dasha L. Anderson is a celebrity trainer and fitness expert in New York City, with a master's degree in exercise science and sports nutrition and a specialty in performance enhancement and injury prevention. She is also the founder and head certifying instructor of Kettlebell Kickboxing and has contributed to Self, Shape, Fitness Rx, and Epoch Times.