resistance training vs cardiovascular training

If you are new to working out, or even a self-proclaimed “gym rat,” at some point you’ve probably wondered which form of training is most beneficial for you. Or maybe you’ve never thought about it and this blog will begin to generate some interest and questions. Well, I’m here to answer those for you! What are the benefits of resistance training? What are the benefits of cardiovascular training (cardio)? Should you do one, the other, or both? It can be overwhelming when learning how, when, and what to train. Thankfully, cardio and resistance training are two great options, especially when they are paired together.

First off, what exactly is resistance training? An article from Translating Research Evidence and Knowledge states that “resistance training is any exercise that causes the muscles to contract against an external resistance with the expectation of increases in strength, power, hypertrophy, and/or endurance.” It is most common to see resistance training done using weights (dumbbells, barbells, heavy bags, etc.) and bands. The variety of quality exercises using these tools is endless.

Resistance Training is great for everyone: men, women, young, old, fit, overweight… EVERYONE! As we age, our muscle fibers decline, and our range of motion decrease, leaving us tight and frail. When completing a resistance training program, we move our joints through their full range of motion, helping reverse the negative progressions of aging. Not only will you look and feel better, but you will also be improving your strength, balance, joint health, metabolic rate, and cardiovascular health.

One common myth is that resistance training makes your muscles “bulky,” which does not appeal to some men and women. Luckily, there are many different approaches to resistance training, so this myth is not entirely true. If your goal is simply to improve muscle and joint health, this can be accomplished through light resistance or bodyweight training. On the other hand, you will experience muscle bulk with heavy resistance training and applying the principles of progressive resistance and overload training – we will explore this in another blog!

deadlifting

Here are some examples of resistance training exercises:

  • Bicep curls
  • Lunges
  • Squats
  • Push-ups
  • Any exercise using a resistance band

Now that you have an idea of what resistance training is, we can explore the importance of cardiovascular training. You are probably familiar with the term cardio, but do you actually know what it is? An article from Open Fit states, “[Cardio is] anything that A) raises your heart and breathing rates, and B) improves the function of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system.” Cardio is referred to as steady-state endurance training.

threadmill running

Some examples of cardiovascular training include:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Stair Stepping

While cardio is beneficial for increasing blood flow and improving heart health, it is not the only form of exercise you should be doing. Paring resistance training with cardiovascular training will simultaneously increase your strength and endurance, compounding the benefits. It is recommended that every individual exercise using resistance at least 2 times a week for 30 mins. For cardio, it is recommended that every individual either does 150 mins of light exercises or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise over the span of a week. These benchmarks help ensure the above-listed health benefits are achieved.

Whether you are a beginner or experienced, resistance training paired with cardio is a great way to train during your week. Combining the two not only benefits your heart health but also strengthens your muscles for everyday activity. Try incorporating these forms of training in your workouts and see how much you benefit from them.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss if weight training is appropriate for you at this time, call one of our clinics or schedule an appointment online to meet with one of our physical therapists.

Resources available upon request