The question of cardio or weights — or both — is one that is fitness trainers are asked dozens of times; probably hundreds. And the reason for this question’s lasting popularity is because, in fitness club culture, there are often three sub-cultures that can be spotted within seconds upon entry: one group that favors cardio over weight training, one group that favors weight training over cardio, and the third (fewer in number) group who take a balanced approach to training by combining their cardiovascular workouts with resistance training. To understand which path is best for you, let’s look at some of the myths that Bill Phillips discusses in his book, Body for Life.
Myth: Aerobics is better for shaping up than weight training.
Fact: To transform your physique, you must train with weights.
Myth: Weight training is only for young athletes.
Fact: People of all ages should be weight training.
Myth: The longer you exercise the better.
Fact: Too much exercise prevents results.
Myth: Muscles grow while you’re working out.
Fact: Muscles grow while you’re resting and recuperating.
Myth: Lifting a weight is what stimulates muscle growth.
Fact: Lifting and lowering a weight stimulates muscle growth.
Myth: A certain number of sets and reps get the job done.
Fact: High-intensity effort produces the best results.
Going back to the question of cardio or weights or both – an intelligent answer is, you guessed it: both. Even without excess pounds, the heart is a muscle, and a muscle needs to be used or else you lose it. The heart has to be in shape, just as your arms, quads, and biceps need to be in shape. If you pump oxygen (cardio) and you pump iron (weight training), then imagine what dividends you will reap long term.
If time constraints are preventing you from combining both cardio and weights during your workout sessions, then divvy up the week so that you can do cardio three days a week, and then weight training for the other three days. Vigorous sports that you engage in on the weekend can be banked into your cardio quota. In fact, any sustained or continuous activity that gets your heart rate up (maximum of 85% of your top-level aerobic heart rate) during a 30-minute cardiovascular session is excellent. Indeed, the research doesn’t lie. High-intensity training burns fat more efficiently – up to 50% more – than low-intensity exercise. It also speeds up your metabolism, keeping it revved up for some time even after the workout. And since there’s a need for the element of variety in fitness programs, combining or alternating cardio/weights fulfills this requirement. The chances of dropping out because of boredom are lower.
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