Strength Training Vs. Cardio

May 10, 2010

There is a continuous debate as to the fat burning effects of strength training versus a Cardio rich workout and some studies may be changing the general perspective. Picking up a set of dumbbells doesn’t have to mean you are in the gym to “bulk up” or aim for the infamous Arnold Schwarzenegger physique. If you rely solely on cardio as your workout of choice, it might be worth considering mixing it up as there are some great benefits to adding some weight training to your workouts.

In actuality, you need to use both techniques for the most effective caloric burn. The great thing about cardio is that it is continuous repetition, at an increased heart rate, with a high percentage of Oxygen intake. Strength training, on the other hand, requires bursts of energy for short periods of time with rest in between exercises. According to the Washington Post and Miriam Nelson, author of “Strong Women Stay Slim” and director of the John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Tufts University. “You are probably burning more calories when you are actually moving a heavy weight than when you are doing aerobic exercise. But you are taking breaks, so over 30 minutes the actual number of calories burned doing strength training will be less.”

Another key attribute to strength training is that your muscles require rest for recovery. To put it shortly, if you want bigger biceps, doing curls everyday could actually have a negative effect. In strength training, the muscle fibers go through small tears and then are rebuilt. Proper nutrition and hydration can aid immensely in this recovery process. According to the Post, ‘Lance Berger, head trainer at Mint Fitness in Northwest Washington, he would recommend “circuit-style strength training” because it keeps the heart rate elevated, increases caloric after-burn and builds muscle. The exercises can be all strength exercises (switching muscle groups from chest to back or arms to legs) or a combination of strength and cardio exercises (a set of pull-downs followed by a lap around the track or three minutes on a bike).’ Calorie after-burn is your body’s ability to continue to burn calories long after your workout. Exercise scientists call this “excess post-exercise oxygen consumption,” or EPOC. Studies vary as to the length of this process but it could continue in excess of 36 hours. One of the great benefits of strength training is that it seems to push this a little longer than that of a constant cardio workout.

Burning calories is part of the weight loss equation but monitoring calorie intake is a crucial step as well. Have you ever gone for a long swim or run and finished incredibly hungry? The body responds to calorie output with the desire for replenishing the expensed nutrients. Making sure you are managing a proper amount of caloric intake is crucial any exercise program. As with any exercise program, it is important to consult your physician to determine the best methods to reach your goals. A nutritionist can be a great resource in helping you to structure a reasonable diet. We are here to help as well.

Washington Post

Women’s Health

Adventure Sports

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