What is Better: Cardio or Weight Training?

Exercises can be grouped in any one of the two categories; namely cardio and strength training. Strength training is also known as resistance training or weight training. Both, cardio as well as weight training target on several aspects of health and fitness. However, many people worry about knowing what’s better cardio or weight training? If you too want to know about it then read the following paragraphs.

What is Better: Cardio or Weight Training?

If you are confused about what’s better, cardio or weight training, then we must tell you that every exercise has its pros as well as cons. So, in some ways cardio is better, while in other ways weight training is. Thus, to know what’s better for you as per your requirements, you must know about the pros and cons of cardio as well as weight training. So, let’s take a look on that.


Cardio is called as Cardiovascular exercise and this name itself suggest that this category of exercise is all about working with your heart and your circulatory system.

Although people mostly tend forgetting that the heart is really a highly specialized muscle. The heart generates pressure with each contraction, and this pressure pushes the blood via your arteries and veins. You can actually strengthen the heart muscle and train it to function in a more efficient manner, by challenging the heart.

If you take technically, anything that elevates the heart rate for a longer period of time can be called as “Cardio”. Running, swimming, and cycling are known to be more traditional cardio exercises. However, it is essential to note that not all cardio is the same. In most cases, when people say “Cardio”, they are typically referring to the steady-state or SS cardio, such as a long distance rub that is performed at a constant (i.e. mostly slow) pace. However; over the past few years, HIIT or the High Intensity Interval Training has rapidly gained its momentum, which is characterized by a shorter and more intense workout.

Now let us know about the pros and cons of cardio for you to decide if you want to perform this type of exercise or skip it out from your fitness regimen.

Pros of Cardio:

Cardio Helps In Calorie Burn And Weight Loss: One of the best benefits of doing cardio is it helps in burning off calories and weight loss. If you do a cardio session for longer time, you could burn around 500 to 800 calories, depending on the exact duration of your workout and the level of intensity. This is absolutely a decent number and it will definitely benefit you with your goals of fat loss.

Since, in order to lose 1 pound of your body fat you must burn off 3500 calories, so, doing enough of the cardio sessions, and also making sure that you are keeping a track of your macronutrient intake; you will surely experience a weight loss.

However, always keep it in mind that you must keep doing the cardio sessions for longer period of time.

It Has Wonderful Mental Health Benefits: Cardio is also known to have tremendous mental health benefits. Cardio is great for clearing your mind when you play tennis or swim. It is also known that doing 15 minutes of aerobic activity, twice a week can really reduce anxiety. Doing cardio regularly you can elevate your levels of serotonin and that in turn improves the symptoms of depression. If you continue with the cardio workouts for long, you can also cut fatigue by almost 50%.

Other Health Benefits Of Cardio: Cardio has a significant influence on the cardiovascular health; and when you do cardio exercises you heart and lungs work harder for a long period of time.

Apart from the cardiovascular benefits, cardio is also known to optimize longevity. Cardio reduces heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart strokes and also osteoporosis. Moreover, there is always an increased endurance and an improved level of athletic performance if you do cardio.

Doing cardio toughens your heart, and a tougher heart pumps more amount of blood and circulates oxygen more efficiently throughout the body. Cardio and aerobic activities stop inflammation and all the good things present in your blood goes up quickly.

And what’s the best part of cardio is that it requires less or no equipment to perform cardio.

Cons of Cardio:

Cardio also comes with some cons; such as steady-state cardio requires long workouts, High intensity Interval Training or HIIT is very much challenging, your muscle mass is reduced with steady-state cardio, and above all; cardio can put pressure on your muscles, joints, tendons and the ligaments. So, you must pay special attention to your body; and you need to stop cardio workouts when you feel your body is being hurt or in pain.

Weight Training:

Weight training might sound a slightly alarming at first, however; this kind of exercise actually makes small tears in the muscle fibers and this in turn leads your brain to start a complex collection of processes that are designed to make the muscles stronger, bigger, faster and better prepared to deal with further challengers. What’s more interesting is that even your bones too undergo a similar process, and get stronger and also denser.

Pros of Weight Training:

Increases Short-Term Calorie Burn. Weight training is important if you are looking to burn of calories or fat-loss. It benefits in calorie burn soon after the workout is done.
Studies have shown that our body’s metabolism can be boosted for up to 38 hours soon after a weight-training session. So, it can be said that post workout, instead of burning, say 50 calories an hour while simply sitting and watching television, you are burning 60 calories. So, when you multiply this extra 10 calories per hour with 38 hours, you can really find what a big difference it can really make in your daily expenditure of calories. So, weight training actually increases the capacity of an individual to burn calories and thus, also burn fat.

Increases Long-Term Calorie Burn. Another benefit of weight training is that it increases the long-term calorie burn. With weight training, you will be able to build a larger degree of your lean muscle mass, which generally helps in burning calories in your body.

When we calculate our basal metabolic rate (that is how many calories we would really burn if we remained in bed all day and did nothing excepting respiring, one of the several factors that goes into this, is our total weight of the body. The most accurate equations will also consider the lean body mass (including our muscle, organs and bones).

It must be noted that more muscle an individual has on their body, the higher is the basal metabolic rate and the better is the calorie-burning results that they will obtain every time every day for long.

Again, as the muscle tissue is absolutely stable (unless you are not consuming too much of protein, it won’t be lost), weight training proves to be a wonderful long-term calorie burning strategy or strategy for losing body fat.

Weight Training Helps In Total Reshaping Of Body. One of the biggest benefits of weight training is that this type of exercise allows you to reshape your body completely. While you are performing weight training, and following a diet that restricts too much of calories, then there is a great chance that you lose strictly body fat and also have greatly enhanced natural curves of your body.

This in turn will offer you a much better transformation of your body than if you just try to lose weight doing cardio.

It Is Beneficial For Women. One thing must be accepted that today a lot of women will restrict not to lifting weights, especially anything more than 5 to 10 pounds; only because they would worry that lifting more weights would result in the development of large amounts of body muscles. However, this is a misconception, as females do not naturally have high enough levels of the testosterone hormone to develop the same amount of musculature as males.

What really lifting heavy weights will do for women and men is, it will increase the metabolic rate, enhance greater fat burning, and also help give more definition to their body when the fat comes off.

It Benefits Athleticism. If you want to look and feel like an athlete, then you definitely need to include weight training into your exercise routine. Hire a coach or a fitness trainer and learn how to deadlift, squat, chin and overhead press safely and more efficiently. You really need to concentrate on the compound, multi-joint exercises.

Other Health Benefits Of Weight Training. There are also some other health benefits of weight training. Lifting weights or performing strength training really makes you look great after a long weight training workout. Blood rushes to your muscles making them swell. Weight training helps you prevent from intra-abdominal fat, which are the fat that wrap around your organs and causes constrictions in blood vessels.

With weight training you have an increased strength, an improved bone density, increased body metabolism and also a reduced risk of injury.

Cons of Weight Training:

Like any other exercise, weight training also comes with few cons and that is, it requires excessive training to learn proper forms and also it burns fewer calories than cardio workouts.

What’s Better: Cardio Or Weight Training? Decide By Yourself!

So, from all the above mentioned pros and cons about cardio and weight training, it is not clear that we must break free from our thinking that cardio is better than weight training or the vice versa. While doing cardio consistently can help you in your fat-loss goals, weight training is more effective in several other ways and it also offers you a more toned and well-shaped body.

Thus, it is clear that as both, cardio as well as weight training comes with their specific pros and cons, it won’t be right to just tell what’s better. However, you can decide the type of exercise you want to continue with, based upon your bodily requirements. You have to decide what your goals are, and then work on them accordingly, but only under a strict supervision of an expert fitness trainer.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 13, 2018

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