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Cardio vs Strength Training: Which is Effective For Overall Health?

Is doing cardio before strength training the ideal method? Or is it the other way around? Perhaps you should be doing both? What really is the best option?

While cardio is fantastic for losing weight, weight training can help you build muscle. For overall health, both methods are great in keeping fit and healthy. The simple answer is: It all comes down to your fitness goals and what you’re looking to achieve.

Read on for more details on whether cardio or strength training comes on top, when it comes to:

We also discuss two common questions asked on this topic:

Cardio vs strength training to lose weight

Losing weight for each and every person will result differently. It’s important to be aware to determine what you need to do to effectively lose weight, consulting with a health professional and/or a personal trainer will ensure the results you want based on your own fitness goals.

Can I lose weight by lifting weights only?

Lifting weights can contribute to weight loss but it will help you build more muscle than lose weight ultimately. Depending on how much weight training exercises you do, you may end up building more muscle and still losing the fat.

In the end, you may see the weight being lost from certain targeted areas of your body, but not see much difference on the scales since in that time you would’ve built muscle that replaced the fat that has been lost.

What burns more calories – Cardio or strength training?

Cardio is fantastic for burning calories while you train. According to the British Journal of Nutrition, you can burn up to 20% more body fat by running in the morning on an empty stomach. Later in the day, follow this up with a complete strength and fitness workout with weights.

The combination of strength training with cardio can really help maximise weight loss results.

Another important note to be mindful of is what you eat. What you eat will determine how much weight you will lose in conjunction with exercise. For example eating whole foods, reducing the intake of high fat and high sugary foods will reduce weight gain. Ensuring that you have a balanced diet is the first step. Enquire with a health professional to seek assistance on what type of diet will suit you.

Cardio vs strength training for overall health

Studies have shown that cardiovascular exercise such as running, dancing or biking helps to increase your longevity. It’s known to also reduce health problems such as:

  • Obesity
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Stroke

On the other hand, strength training can really help with:

  • Preventing intra-abdominal fat. This is the kind of fat you definitely don’t want as it targets your organs and constricts blood vessels. In simpler terms, it targets your belly. Queue dad bod!
  • Maintaining flexibility. As you get older you can remain independent and mobile
  • Improved posture
  • Improved muscles strength which helps protect your joints from any potential injury
  • Help with sleep and avoiding insomnia

Ultimately for overall health, cardio is the best form of exercise as compared to weight training, which is great for more specific fitness goals.

Cardio vs strength training for reducing anxiety or stress

Doing either cardio or strength training or both will definitely help improve your mood especially when you’re feeling stressed, run down or anxious.

Strength training can help reduce bodily stress both physically and mentally, which will help you establish a healthy flow of energy through your body.

Overall any form of exercise can help with your overall mood, reduce stress, boost well-being and improve your self-esteem.

If you’re unsure where to start if you’re not confident training alone, try a strength and conditioning program. It incorporates a little bit of strength training, cardio and weights. Check out our range of classes to see what will suit you best.

Do I do cardio or strength training first?

This is a great question which has been up for debate for so long. Here’s what we think you should try out:

  • Try strength training first before cardio when your body is fresh of energy. If you do intense cardio first, this can over tire your body. This will hinder your performance when doing allocated or planned repetitions of your weight training. Do light warm ups to activate the particular areas of muscles you will be training to reduce the risk of injury.
  • If you’re only doing light aerobic exercises, you can start with a quick cardio session to warm the muscles.

Can weight training be cardio?

The short answer is yes. If performed at the right intensity and in a controlled way that places stress on your muscles it can be counted as cardio.

To ensure that you are training at the right intensity, your heart rate should be above 60% of your maximum heart rate by the time you finish your weight session.

To gain a better understanding of what type of exercises you should do, consult with one of our personal trainers who will tailor an exercise program that is right for your level and fitness goals.

Overall verdict: Strength Training or Cardio?

The best exercise method is one that fits you. You can reap the benefits of doing both and we can help you align them to your fitness goals.

To see what will suit with your fitness goals, get in touch with one of our personal trainers at any of our Crunch Fitness gyms who can assist you in finding the right combination of both strength training and cardio fitness for you.


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