People taking part in a class

Cardio vs strength training? Let us look at the big picture here. Firstly, I think it’s important to clarify a definition between the two, because people’s perception of cardio and strength may differ when it comes to training. Therefore, cardiovascular (CV) training is the “physical conditioning that exercises the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels”. This sort of training normally involves activities such as running, walking, or cycling. Strength training or resistance training is “a form of physical activity that is designed to improve muscular fitness by exercising a muscle or muscle group against external resistance”. Examples of resistance training include using weights such as dumbbells, Olympic lifting, and cable machines.

For me, there are two ways of delving into this question. We can look at it from a performance perspective, and we can look at it from a preference perspective.

In terms of performance, this is specific to our goals. For example, if your goal were to lose weight, I would suggest increasing your cardio training as this method of training is the best way to increase your energy expenditure. For example, by jogging 4 miles, you can burn up to 400 calories. On the other hand, if your goal were to gain strength, or work on explosive power, or to increase your muscle mass, I would then suggest tailoring your training programme around resistance-based training.

So, now let us look at things from a preference perspective. Let us say you’re at a beginner’s level, and you are thinking to yourself “I want to start working out again, I want to get fit and healthy”. But you really dislike doing cardio work. I am then not going to say to you go out and run 4 miles, because you will not enjoy it. And then there will be negative feelings associated with your workout, and you will be more likely to drop out or give up. For me, it is important that you enjoy your workouts, because when you enjoy it, it is not hard work. It is something you want to do, not something you feel like you must do. So, if your preference is to lift weights, lift some weights. At the end of the day, you are there working out. You are making a change to your lifestyle and that is what is important.

However, when looking at the overall picture, I personally do not like the question of cardio vs strength because it suggests that one is better than the other. When really, they both compliment each other. Unless you have a specific, performance-based goal, I would suggest that you incorporate both cardio and resistance-based work into your workouts.