Which is Best: Cardio Workouts or Weight Training? - Fitness Gym and Classes in Beaverton, OR - FIT Academy

Which is Best: Cardio Workouts or Weight Training?


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You want to get the most out of your work at the gym, but selecting the right exercises and equipment can be difficult.

It’s like the argument over which diet is best. One person recommends going vegan, another says paleo, and your brother-in law swears by the Dukan Diet. Every one of them claims superiority … so somebody has to be wrong.

The same goes for the cardio vs weight training question. You might be tempted to think that one is as easy as determining whether you’d rather be lean (cardio) or strong (weights). But it’s really not that simple.

We won’t keep you in suspense. Don’t choose between cardio and weight training. Do both.

Here’s why.

FAQs About Cardio Exercise

Question: What is the difference between a cardio exercise and any other type of exercise?

Cardio (short for cardiorespiratory or cardiovascular) exercises are especially beneficial to your heart and lungs. They do that by increasing your heart rate and your need for oxygen.

Question: How high should my heart rate go when I do cardio exercises?

The American Heart Association recommendation is to exercise within 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate — an age-related figure that ranges from 200 beats per minute at 20 years old to 150 beats per minute at 70 years of age.

Note: The numbers can change if you’re taking medication, so be sure to ask your doctor before pushing yourself.

Check this chart to find your recommended maximum heart rate:

maximum heart rate chart
Maximum Heart Rate Chart by the American Heart Association

Question: How long do I need to work out every week?

The research points to a sweet spot of about 30 minutes of cardio exercise, repeated four times each week. That will deliver significant benefits. Some studies lower the necessary time and days. Some studies raise the time and days. You should let your own body and schedule be the judge. Here again, talk with your physician … especially if you have health issues that should be considered.

Question: What are the benefits of cardio exercise?

Increased blood flow provides more oxygen and energy, protection against dementia, heart health benefits, better endurance and more efficient lung functioning, brain performance enhancement, weight loss, better bone density, better sleep patterns, less stress, help for depression and anxiety … you name it and cardio exercise probably benefits it. That’s why EVERYONE should be getting regular cardio exercise.

Question: What’s the difference between cardio exercise and aerobics?

Cardio and aerobic are two ways of looking at the same type of exercises. Cardio speaks to the heart benefits, and aerobic speaks to the oxygen flow benefits. They come as a package. Increasing the heart rate spurs more oxygen intake.

Question: Which exercises provide the most cardio and aerobic benefits?

Anything you do strenuously enough to get your heart rate up to the target zone (see the chart above) is a good exercise. The trick is to find an exercise or set of exercises you can do for approximately 30 minutes in order to keep your heart rate in the zone long enough to deliver maximum return. Popular exercises include running, fast walking, cycling, swimming, and jumping rope.

FAQs About Weight Training

Question: What’s the difference between aerobic exercise and weight training?

Weight training or “strength training” isn’t focused on getting your heart rate up to a certain level. Weight training exercises use resistance to make it more difficult for you to perform certain motions. The aim is to increase strength, increase endurance, and build muscle.

Question: How often should I work out with weights?

Your body needs rest (and protein) after every resistance training workout. Day on, day off, is a good way to go. Mix cardio in on the off days, and you have a perfect combination. Many enjoy an alternative mix of cardio and resistance training: HIIT (high intensity interval training).

Question: Should I use machines or free weights?

Some say free weights give you an added boost because you need to stabilize the weight. Others say machines provide better focus and more safety. The best thing to do is do what you like best. The main thing is that you get to the gym, use an exercise routine that hits all the major muscle groups, and do that on a regular basis.

Which is Best: Cardio Workouts or Weight Training?

Cardio and aerobic workouts focus on your heart and lungs, but they also help with strength. Weight training is mainly for strength-building, but it does provide heart and lung benefits as well (especially if you push yourself to work hard).

Here’s the truth of the matter: you need both, and you need them regularly.

Consider alternating cardio with strength training. Speak to a FIT Academy staff member. Ask one of our trainers. Building an individualized workout plan isn’t terribly difficult, but it does take knowledge and planning.

Make the most of your time at the gym. Stay steady with your workouts. Make fitness a priority.

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