Cardio vs Resistance Training


I think we’ve all been programed to immediately associate exercise or weight management with tons and tons of cardio. When I started exercising, all I did was run, spin, or use the elliptical (did I ellipse?). I was also too scared to go into the weight room because I didn’t know what I was doing and everyone in there intimidated the crap out of me. A common question posed to me is “What’s better: cardio or resistance training/weight-lifting?”  Runners think that weight lifters don’t do enough cardio (aerobic exercise). Weight trainers think that runners don’t do enough resistance training (anaerobic exercise). It’s hilarious.

It’s hard to substantiate what’s “better” because both are effective in benefiting our bodies in different ways and help us achieve different goals. Personally and professionally, I think most of us don’t do enough resistance training to build muscle. Here’s why: as we get older, we tend to lose muscle mass due to decreased physical activity. And isn’t it true that for the majority of the day, we are relatively stationary as we sit at our desk at work. Going for a run will certain burn calories but it won’t help you build/maintain that necessary muscle mass needed for positive bodily function.

Resistance training involves weight-lifting whether that’s with our own body weight or added weights (barbells, dumbbells, etc). Now, I’m not talking about weight-training to build giant Arnold muscles. Rather, think about doing it to counteract our sedentary life/potential muscle loss. Maintaining good muscle mass canhelp with so many normal functions like increasing blood flow, oxygen transport, and strength. It can also decrease joint/posture pain. When we build muscle, our bodies are expending more energy (burning more calories) at rest especially when compared to when we simply do cardio. For this reason, muscle building workouts can be effective in long-term fat loss and weight management.

Strike a positive balance and try adding weight training exercises at least twice a week in conjunction with your aerobic exercise schedule. You don’t have to lift crazy weights. Use your body weight during push ups, pull ups, and squats. It’ll be a challenge, but it’s one worth taking on.

And as always, be safe.

Thomas Ngo
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
Dietetic Intern


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