CARDIO VERSUS STRENGTH TRAINING: DO YOU FUEL THE DIFFERENCE?
Annemarijn Glasbergen is a Vitality Advisor and Lifestyle Coach. In her monthly column, SHE TRAINS, she addresses common exercise myths to help you get most out of your workout.
People often ask me: is it better to do strength or cardio training? It might not come as a surprise that the answer fully depends on your personal goals; often people want to get fit, lose weight, or tone up.
When people want to lose weight you often see them in the gym training on the cardio equipment. While going to the gym is a great way to start, cardio workouts alone won’t be enough to lose those extra pounds or get more toned. Doing strength training will help you achieve your goals much faster! And you’ll achieve even better results than cardio training can offer. Who wouldn’t want that?
Strength training is really nothing more than doing muscle-strengthening exercises. During the training, you will actually damage your muscles. This may sound odd, but it is exactly what you want. If you train hard enough, you will create small tears in your muscle fiber. After your training, the body will do everything possible to repair these tears, which will make your muscles just that little bit stronger – just in case you expose your body to such a heavy blow again. Each time you become stronger too, and slowly but surely you’ll be able to handle even heavier weights! That’s what we call fuelling your muscles!
Strength training in itself has specific advantages. Did you know that – depending on how you count – your body has between 640 and 850 muscles? With so much muscle it makes sense that you have to treat them well. Among other things, your muscles ensure that your body can move. The stronger your muscles are, the better they can do their work. This results in:
Better awareness of your body;
Lower risk of health problems such as back pain, diabetes or heart disease.
The benefit of strength training relies mainly on two aspects:
First of all, you will create more muscle mass. Muscle mass is seen (in contrast to fat) as living tissue that consumes energy. Fat does not consume energy; it is more of an energy storage. Because muscles need energy in order to operate, they burn calories. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body burns (and needs).
Secondly, the body uses a lot of energy during the recovery phase after a training. In this phase, you will burn a lot of calories as well. The recovery phase – and the burning of calories – takes quite a lot of time. This means your body won’t stop burning calories as soon as you stop your training; instead, in some cases, you will burn extra calories up to 48 hours after your training!
You will soon see results if you do your training at least three times a week for at least 30 minutes at the time. Always start your training with a proper warm-up! A simple mat and some weights will offer you a variety of training possibilities. Google is also a gateway to a whole lot of exercises that you can do quite easily at home.
A different training program is best for each of your targets, but in general, it’s smart to do a combination of strength training and cardio. A cardio workout burns calories during your training, while strength training burns your calories after exercise. Which makes strength training and cardio together a perfect combination if you want to lose weight or tone up!
A few practical tips:
Always allow your muscles a day of rest after a workout! Your body needs the rest in order to restore its muscles. Overloading your muscles won’t improve results. Unstoppable? Then it’s better to train a different muscle group.
Change your training schedule every 4 to 6 weeks. This keeps it fun for yourself, but also ensures that your body gets new impulses, which again will result in better progress.
Keep track of which weights you can handle with specific exercises. It’s nice to see that you’re slowly but surely progressing with handling more weight. And it’s very motivating too!
Push yourself to the limit! Challenge yourself and make it a tough training! 15 times lifting weights while you can do another 10 is not effective. Instead, take a weight so heavy that you can lift it 14 times. Your last shot should be tough!
BUT … Always perform the exercises as well as possible. A good technique with a lower weight is always better than a sloppy performance with a heavier one.