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Weights vs. Cardio: Which is Better?

In the realm of health & fitness, the debate between weightlifting and cardiovascular exercise continues to divide popular opinion. In this blog post, we'll break down the benefits of each in more detail to understand the individual impacts on the body of both cardio and lifting weights


Lifting Weights: Strength and Muscle Building


1. Muscle Development:

Resistance training (lifting weights) involves targeting specific muscle groups for strength and hypertrophy (muscle gain). The controlled stress placed on muscles causes micro-tears, prompting muscle growth during recovery periods. This helps the body increase and maintain muscle mass throughout your life instead of succumbing to a gradual decline through the ages.

Personal training client performing dumbbell rows
Dumbbell rows, working the core and back muscles

2. Metabolic Impact:

Building muscle through resistance training will increase your resting metabolic rate. As muscle tissue demands more energy for upkeep than fat tissue, more muscle mass means a higher metabolism, aiding in calorie burning even when not actively exercising. So the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn when you're at rest.


As a result, regularly engaging in resistance training can boost metabolism and contribute to fat loss or weight management efforts when combined with proper nutrition.


3. Bone Strength:

Beyond muscle gains, resistance training helps enhance bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and strengthening overall bone health. The more load-bearing exercise we perform, the less susceptible we become to age-related drops in bone density.


4. Functional Benefits:

Weightlifting not only enhances muscle strength but also improves functional fitness, making everyday activities easier and reducing the chance of injury. You will increase joint stability and overall proprioception with resistance training, helping you improve sports performance and general stability to avoid trips, falls and injury.

Personal training client performing deadlift
Deadlifts are another great whole body strength exercise which our trainers love to incorporate

5. Hormone Regulation:

Engaging in resistance training offers several hormonal benefits that contribute to overall health, fitness, and well-being. Benefits include testosterone regulation, reduction in insulin resistance, increased growth hormone production and reduction in the stress hormone cortisol.


These hormonal benefits are particularly prominent for menopausal women to reduce the symptoms and effects felt when going through this stage in life.


Cardiovascular Exercise: Heart Health and Endurance


1. Cardiovascular Benefits:

Cardio workouts strengthen the heart muscle, making it more efficient at pumping blood throughout the body. This increased efficiency reduces the resting heart rate and lowers the risk of heart-related conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.


Consistent cardio exercise has been linked to a reduced risk of developing various cardiovascular diseases. It helps in controlling cholesterol levels by increasing HDL (good) cholesterol and decreasing LDL (bad) cholesterol, reducing the buildup of plaque in arteries and lowering the risk of atherosclerosis.

Trainer with client on the rowing machine
Rowing machines are a great way to get your heart rate up whilst working your core, back and legs

2. Weight Management:

Cardio exercises are effective for burning calories and aiding in weight management. Activities like running, cycling, swimming, or brisk walking elevate heart rate and increase calorie expenditure, contributing to weight loss when combined with a balanced diet.


3. Stamina Enhancement:

Regular participation in cardio workouts improves endurance and stamina. Over time, the body becomes more efficient at utilizing oxygen, allowing individuals to sustain physical activity for longer durations without feeling fatigued. This increased endurance can enhance performance in various daily activities and sports.


Cardiovascular exercise also strengthens respiratory muscles and improves lung capacity. This allows for more efficient oxygen exchange and delivery to the body's tissues, supporting overall respiratory health.


4. Mental Well-being:

Cardio exercises have notable mental health benefits. They stimulate the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters that elevate mood, reduce stress, and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Regular cardio workouts can boost cognitive function, improving focus and mental clarity.


Personal trainer flexing for the camera
Our trainer Louis is the biggest advocate for positive mental health!

The Balanced Approach: Optimizing Your Fitness Routine

The choice between weightlifting and cardio depends on individual fitness goals and preferences. However, combining both methodologies can lead to a more comprehensive and balanced fitness regimen.


Creating Your Fitness Routine:

  1. Goal Identification: Define specific fitness objectives, whether it's building muscle, losing weight, improving heart health, or achieving overall fitness.

  2. Variety and Consistency: Incorporate a mix of resistance training and cardio exercises into your routine, ensuring regularity to see noticeable progress.

  3. Listening to Your Body: Pay attention to how your body responds to different exercises and adjust your routine to avoid strain or injury.

  4. Professional Guidance: Seek advice from fitness experts or personal trainers to design a personalised workout plan that aligns with your goals and fitness level.

In summary, the debate between resistance training and cardio is about finding what works best for you. A balanced approach that includes elements of both can offer a wide range of health benefits, leading to a sustainable and effective fitness journey tailored to your needs and preferences.


In our eyes, we recommend a combination of the two, which is why we look to incorporate strength and cardio into all our workout programmes to help give you the maximum benefit from your personal training sessions at Portside!


So in short, neither is better than the other.. if you only choose one, we'd recommend strength ad resistance training for the longevity benefits, however, incorporating some cardio training into your routine will help keep you fit and your heart healthy!

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