Cardio vs Strength Training: Balancing Your Fitness Approach

Cardio vs Strength Training: Balancing Your Fitness Approach

Welcome to “Cardio vs Strength Training: Balancing Your Fitness Approach!” Whether you've always been a cardio enthusiast or you're a die-hard fan of strength training, finding the right between the two can elevate your fitness routine and results. In this article, you'll discover the benefits of both cardio and strength training, delve into how each works, and learn why incorporating both into your regimen is essential for your health and wellbeing. We'll provide insights on building your ideal workout schedule, answer common questions, and share tips from experts to help you achieve your fitness goals. Keep reading to unlock the secrets to a balanced and effective plan! Have you ever found yourself pondering the great fitness debate: Cardio vs. Strength Training? This age-old question has had fitness enthusiasts divided for ages, creating loyal factions among those who prioritize one over the other. Whether you've always championed the cause of Team Cardio, swear by the benefits of Team Strength Training, or are a newbie to the realm of fitness, you're probably here to decode the mystery and optimize your workout regimen. Lucky for you, we're here to help unravel the truth so that you can achieve the best results in your fitness journey.

Cardio Vs Strength Training: Balancing Your Fitness Approach

What is Cardio?: A Recap

Cardiovascular , or simply “cardio,” is any activity that raises your heart rate. Besides the well-known aerobic exercises such as swimming and tennis, cardio includes those everyday activities like dashing after your toddler or climbing stairs at work.

When it comes to health and fitness, the term “cardio” is usually reserved for rhythmic exercises that elevate your heart rate into your target heart rate zone—a range of beats per minute your heart ideally achieves during exercise. This “sweet spot” lies between moderate and intense, aiming to provide maximum benefits.

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Popular Types of Cardio

Here are some popular types of cardiovascular exercise:

  • Cycling
  • Running
  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Rowing
  • Jumping rope
  • Dancing

How Does Cardio Work?

Whether you're opting for a brisk morning walk or a high-intensity vinyasa yoga class, your muscles need more oxygen and blood during cardio exercises. Consequently, your heart, lungs, and blood vessels work harder to meet these needs, and your body taps into its glucose reserves. This partly explains why cardio activities are often linked with weight management.

Cardio encourages your cardiovascular system to become more efficient and resilient, enabling you to swim that extra lap or complete that uphill bike ride.

What is Strength Training?: A Brief Summary

Strength training involves exercises that require your muscles to work against some form of resistance. This resistance could be your body weight—like in plank or leg lifts—or external resistance like:

  • Dumbbells
  • Resistance bands
  • Medicine balls
  • Weight machines
  • Kettlebells

How Does Strength Training Work?

Strength training, or muscle endurance training, requires your cardiovascular system to work harder, but its primary focus is your muscles. Strength training prompts your body to build muscles via three types of contractions:

  • Concentric: Muscles briefly “shorten” during a lift (e.g., deepening into a squat).
  • Eccentric: Muscles lengthen as you release a hold or pose (e.g., rising from a squat).
  • Isometric: Muscles contract against an external force, like gravity or a resistance bar (often called “time under tension”).

The Benefits of Cardio

Cardio offers an array of benefits, including but not limited to:

Promote Brain Health: That burst of mental clarity you get within minutes of jogging is due to increased blood flow. Cardio supports clearer thinking and sharper memory and may offer protection against dementia.

Support Weight Maintenance: Maintaining a healthy weight isn't just about aesthetics; it's crucial for avoiding conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Cardio can help you burn calories during and after your workout.

Improve Energy: Although cardio requires energy, it rewards you with endorphins—feel-good hormones that elevate your mood and general well-being.

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Beyond these, cardio can reduce stress, improve sleep , and decrease the risk of conditions like high cholesterol and obesity.

The Benefits of Strength Training

Strength training has gained a reputation for being unparalleled in boosting and maintaining vitality. Here are some robust benefits:

Enhanced Bone Health: Strength training fortifies more than just muscles and cardiovascular systems; it also supports bones. Consistent resistance training can increase bone density and combat osteoporosis, osteopenia, and fractures.

Increased Muscle Strength and Metabolic Rate: Strength training boosts the size and number of your muscle tissues, directly impacting your metabolic rate—the calories you burn during rest and exercise. Also, your body continues to burn calories at a higher rate post-workout through a process called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC).

Beyond these, strength training can moderate blood sugar levels, enhance mobility, balance, coordination, and improve mood and self-esteem.

Cardio Vs Strength Training: Balancing Your Fitness Approach

What is Better: Cardio or Strength Training?

Is cardio superior to strength training, or is it the other way around? Truth be told, each has unique benefits. Cardio excels in improving cardiovascular fitness and endurance. Strength training, on the other hand, is pivotal for building lean body mass, supporting bone health, and enhancing coordination.

Cardio and Strength Training: Your Ideal Workout

According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), an ideal workout routine should balance between two-thirds cardio and one-third strength training. For instance, you might engage in 30 minutes of cardio five days a week while incorporating strength training two to three times weekly.

Here's an example of a balanced weekly workout schedule:

Day Activity Duration
Day 1 Swimming 30 minutes
Day 2 HIIT 30 minutes
Walking 20 minutes
Stretching 10 minutes
Day 3 Power Yoga 60 minutes
Day 4 Rowing 30 minutes
Free Weights 15 minutes
Day 5 Walking 45 minutes
Kettlebell Exercises 15 minutes

Remember, unless medically directed, finding the perfect ratio between cardio and strength is less important than finding exercises you enjoy. Engage in activities that suit your personality, schedule, and lifestyle. Consistency in exercise is key to reaping the manifold benefits of both cardio and strength training.

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Cardio vs Strength Training: Your FAQs

Can You Shed Weight With Strength Training and No Cardio?

Absolutely. While cardio might burn more calories per session, strength training prolongs a steady caloric burn by:

  • Increasing your metabolic rate
  • Building lean body mass
  • Utilizing EPOC

Though you might see quicker results with cardio, strength training is equally effective—if not more—over the long term. Patience is key here.

Should I Do Cardio or Weights First to Improve Weight?

There's no definitive evidence pinning down whether doing cardio or weights first affects weight loss. Some research suggests strength training before cardio might help burn more fat, whereas other studies say the opposite.

Our advice? Listen to your body and remember that a balanced combination of both cardio and strength training sustains overall health and wellness.

Cardio Vs Strength Training: Balancing Your Fitness Approach

Elevate Your Health and Longevity with Chuze Fitness

The cardio vs. strength training debate is put to rest at Chuze Fitness because they offer the best of both worlds. With a range of group fitness classes and state-of-the-art weight rooms, you'll find everything you need to achieve your fitness goals.

Ready to take your fitness journey to the next level? Chuze Fitness, with locations across California, Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, and Florida, is dedicated to helping you stay motivated and consistent in your workout regimen.

Find your new home away from home at Chuze Fitness.


  • Very Well Fit. “Everything you need to know about cardio.”
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Understanding your target heart rate.”
  • ScienceDirect. “Heart muscle oxygen contraction.”
  • LiveScience. “What does cardio do to your body?”
  • Penn State College of Medicine. “Introduction to strength training.”
  • Mayo Clinic. “Are isometric exercises a good way to build strength?”
  • Men's Health. “Understanding the difference between eccentric and concentric movement can unlock more gains.”
  • Cleveland Clinic. “The (many) benefits of a cardio workout.”
  • The Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Institute. “Bone density and weight-bearing exercise.”
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “Aim for a healthy weight.”
  • Healthline. “The No BS Guide to Building Lean Muscle.”
  • Right as Rain by UW Medicine. “Cardio and strength: what's best for your health?”
  • Healthline. “Cardio or weightlifting: which is better for weight loss?”
  • GoodRx Health. “Should you do cardio before or after weights?”

Reviewed By:
Ani is the Vice President of Fitness at Chuze Fitness, overseeing group fitness and team training. With over 25 years in club management, personal training, and instructor training, Ani lives in San Diego, CA, with her family and enjoys hot yoga, snowboarding, and all things wellness.

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