In the fitness world, there’s a lot of debate about the most beneficial way to work out. Is cardio, with its calorie-torching reputation, the ticket to your dream bod? Or is strength training, which builds lean muscle, what it takes?
If your main goal is to burn fat, for example, choose the dumbells over the treadmill. This may seem surprising, seeing as one burns more calories doing cardio than lifting weights (10-12 calories per minute compared to 8-10 calories per minute, respectively), but what many people don’t know is that you continue to burn calories much longer after you lift than after running. The reason? According to Women’s Health, you continue to burn for an hour after lifting because your body is working to help you recover. And don’t forget about muscle’s natural fat-torching power—one pound of muscle burns about three times as much as one pound of fat! So even building as little as three pounds of muscle through weight training could ultimately make a difference.
But of course, there are other intended benefits for exercise besides loosing weight and burning fat. A lot of people, myself included, use exercise as a way to release stress. If this is the result you are seeking, then cardio is the method for you. Studies show that as little as 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise two to three times a week can significantly reduce anxiety. This is because cardio elevates levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in your brain, which is proven to help with symptoms of depression. There is little evidence, however, that strength training plays any role in lowering stress levels.
And lastly, if you are trying to improve your speed, it comes to a draw. Cardio is good for this because you need to practice in order to excel in an endurance event. The benefits of strength training come into play in this situation as well, especially for your legs. The stronger they are, the greater the force you will be able to run or pedal with.
So now, equipped with this information, it’s time for you to hit the gym! Determine which results you desire, then pick your poison. But also keep in mind that variety is key in order to continually challenge your body and stay in the best shape possible. So get your stress-busting cardio in today, and hit the weights tomorrow to get your fat-burning boost! Good luck and enjoy.