Guest Post was written by Aleksander Saks, competitive powerlifter
and owner of the website aleksandersaks.com.
Maintaining a healthy and fit body requires strength training and cardiovascular exercise. However, striking a balance between the two can be a challenge. Too much weight lifting can lead to muscle imbalances, while too much cardio can impact muscle mass.
In this article, we will explore the benefits of weight lifting and cardio, how they affect one another, and provide tips on balancing these activities to achieve optimal fitness results.
Weight Lifting Benefits
Resistance training, also known as strength training, has various physical and mental health benefits. According to Healthline, it helps to improve the strength, range of motion, and mobility of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
This can help to reinforce strength around major joints, reducing the risk of injury. BetterHealth also notes that resistance training can help maintain flexibility and balance, which is important for staying independent as one ages.
In addition to physical benefits, resistance training also positively impacts mental health. According to Jacinta Brinsley, an exercise physiologist, resistance training can improve focus, and cognitive function, reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, increase self-esteem, decrease the risk of dementia, and reduce markers of inflammation.
Another benefit of resistance training is that it helps to burn more body fat. FitnessDrum states that resistance training builds muscle and increases metabolism, making the body burn more calories at rest. Additionally, the processes set in place by a resistance training workout will continue to burn calories for up to 72 hours post-workout.
Finally, resistance training can help prevent muscle loss. According to Andrew Heffernan, a CSCS, as people age, their bodies start to lose muscle tissue (sarcopenia) at a rate of about 1% annually starting at age 30. Resistance training can help slow or prevent this muscle loss, maintaining muscle mass and strength.
Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, also has multiple health benefits. Regular cardio exercise is recommended by the American Heart Association and most doctors for people with or at risk of heart disease due to its ability to improve cardiovascular health. It also helps in reducing the risk of heart attacks and diseases related to high blood pressure and cholesterol.
It has been found to improve sleep, especially if done earlier in the day. Additionally, cardio exercise can benefit the brain and joints by reducing the risk of dementia by increasing blood flow to those areas. Therefore, improving memory and thinking ability and combating the decline in brain functioning.
Differences and Similarities Between Cardio and Weight Lifting
Cardio and weight lifting are two different forms of exercise that have different effects on the body but also cover some common ground. Here are some of the differences and similarities between cardio and weight lifting:
Cardio exercise, such as running or cycling, improves cardiovascular endurance and strengthens the heart by increasing stroke volume. (Stroke volume is the blood the heart pumps out in one beat).
It increases heart rate, blood flow, and lung capacity and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also helps to form new capillaries in your muscles for more efficient delivery of nutrients and oxygen.
Weight lifting, on the other hand, is one of the best ways to increase muscle strength and size. Heavy resistance training also strengthens the heart, but in a different way. It enlarges the heart muscle, literally making it stronger.
That is most likely due to the increased requirement to force blood into the arteries because of the high blood pressure that tends to accompany lifting heavy loads.
Lifting also increases muscle mass, power, and strength/anaerobic endurance but does not directly improve cardiovascular endurance.
- Both cardio and weight lifting have general health benefits and can contribute to overall physical fitness.
- Both require consistency, effort, and regular practice to see results.
Balancing Weight Lifting and Cardio
Balancing weight lifting and cardio is important to achieve optimal fitness results. Here are a few tips to help you figure out the right balance:
- Determine your Goals: Before you begin a workout routine, determine what you want to achieve. If you want to build muscle, focus on weight lifting. If you want to improve cardiovascular health, focus on cardio.
- Pick The Right Order: A follow-up to the first point. If you decide to do cardio and strength training in one session, start with the one you want to focus on. This way, you’ll have more energy to spend on the most important activity.
- Vary Your Routine: Mix it up if performance isn’t as important to you! If you’re bored with one another, don’t do it for some time. Try always to find a way to make exercising fun! Then it’s more likely that you’ll enjoy and continue doing it.
Just don’t get too comfortable and cut out the activity entirely! There has to be a challenging element to an exercise activity!
- Focus on Compound Exercises: Compound exercises, such as squats and pull-ups, are a great way to build muscle and strength efficiently. These exercises engage multiple muscle groups and provide a near full-body workout, saving you time.
- Emphasize Recovery: It is important to give your body time to rest and recover between workouts. For lifting sessions, it’s important to be as fresh as possible, especially when training for strength. Try to keep this in mind when scheduling your workouts!
- Listen to your body: Pay attention to your body and its signals. If you are feeling fatigued or experiencing pain, it might be better to take a break and rest. Joint pain and overuse injuries are more common in resistance training activities, whereas overtraining is more common in aerobic sports.
Doing both weight lifting and cardio is essential for overall health, which makes balancing them important for anyone interested in their well-being. Combining strength training with cardiovascular exercise can build muscle, improve heart health, and live healthier lives.
Remember to vary your routine, focus on compound exercises, make time for rest and recovery, and listen to your body. With these tips, you will be on your way to a healthy and fit body in no time.
Rob is a Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Coach through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. For the past 10 years, Rob has been navigating the health and fitness landscape to better himself and those around him, focusing on tools such as calorie and macro counting, intermittent fasting, and HIIT training techniques.