Clash of the Titans: Cardio Vs. Strength Training

When and how hard you should push yourself on both of these vital aspects for your overall good health.

More than likely, you know people who are nuts about cardiovascular exercise. They love running on the treadmill and riding the stationary bikes. Lifting weight? No thanks. And if you know many people, you likely know a few weight lifting folks who would rather be stranded on a desert island than have to spend time doing cardio.

But not you. You’re wise to the ways of overall good health. You know the benefits that are offered through a well-rounded exercise routine that incorporates cardiovascular exercise as well as strength training. You’re just unsure how much to get of each and when each is appropriate.
That’s about to change.

Understanding Your Body

Before going any further in this article, there is something you should know. Everything from this point forward requires you to know what is best for your body. To have this knowledge, you need to spend time in the gym, trying out different routines and intensities to have an idea of how your body responds to certain exercises and how well you like certain exercises. If you’re already armed with this knowledge of your body, you are clear to continue reading.

If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard. You’ll be hard to beat. – Herschel Walker

Order of Operations

One of the biggest questions about strength training and cardiovascular exercise is which should go first in a routine. Ask certain people, and you’ll learn that getting your cardio in upfront helps you burn more calories during your strength training. Ask others, and you’ll hear the exact opposite. And ask a few others, and they’ll say you’ll burn the same amount of calories regardless.

While there is no consensus on which should go first, you need to make sure you get in strength training and cardiovascular exercise on a regular basis. And to make sure you don’t suffer injury during either, spend a few minutes warming up and stretching before each. Warming up is as simple as jogging lightly or performing a few repetitions lifting very light weights. Once the warm-up is over, gently stretch the muscles you plan to work out during your routine.

Separate But Equal

While some advocate performing cardio and strength training in the same routine, others claim separating them is the secret to health and strength. With this, you’re not stuck trying to figure out whether to go with cardio or strength training first or last. Rather, you do nothing but strength training on one day, while you save the cardio for another day. The upside to this is being able to focus all your energies to one pursuit each day. The downside? If you really only like strength training or cardiovascular exercises, spending an entire workout doing what you don’t prefer can seem like torture, and you may wind up skipping those days that are filled with exercises you don’t care for.

Intensity Defined

Once you figure out when you are going to lift weights and when you’re going to head to aerobics class, you’re still stuck with a question: How hard do you work out? A question that can be exceptionally difficult to answer and depends largely on your goals and how you go about your routine.

Doing both cardio and strength training on the same day? You’ll want to push yourself on whatever you choose to do first, but don’t push so hard that you won’t be able to push yourself during the second half of your routine. This may mean you give 80 to 90 percent in your first half so you’ll have the energy to give about that much during the second half.

Planning to split up your cardio and weight lifting on different days? Then you give yourself the opportunity to push your body to its full abilities on both. Choose this path and go ahead and push yourself as hard as you can. With a good night’s rest, you should be ready for the next day’s routine.

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