Cardio vs Strength Training
Understanding The Benefits of Both

Woman athlete exercising with kettlebell
Written by Isaac

What's your exercise personality? Are you more willing to run until you drop or keep pumping weights until your muscles turn to jelly?

When it comes to exercise, you will encounter two primary approaches. One is cardio, and the other is strength training. Each has its specific benefits and will lead to particular results. When you combine the two, you just might find the most effective fitness plan for you.

What is cardio?​​​​

man running on a treadmill

Cardio refers to cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, which elevates your heart rate and brings more oxygen into your body. Cardio will pump your blood faster through your body and make it harder to catch your breath or to speak.

The most popular forms of cardio are activities include walking, running, biking, and swimming. But even dancing, rowing a boat, and jumping rope can give you an excellent cardiovascular workout.

What is strength training?

Strength training exercise, which focuses on building your muscles, includes weight lifting as well as body exercises like squats, sit-ups, and pull-ups. The idea is to push your muscles to their limits so they can build themselves up again and become even stronger than before.

Weight training is different from cardio because the focus isn't on making your heart beat faster but rather on exhausting your muscles.

However, strength training will sometimes raise your heart rate.

Lifting free weights and using resistance bands are forms of this training. Yoga and Pilates are also types of exercise that focus heavily on strength training.

strength training versus cardio: the Benefits

Cardio and strength training both offer specific benefits, but they share many advantages as well.

Cardio exercise is great for reducing your risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems like blocked arteries. It quickly increases your metabolism and pushes your body to burn calories, so it is excellent for weight loss. Cardio can also increase the feel-good chemicals in your brain that will put you in a better mood and help you respond more efficiently to stress.

Weight training has the distinct advantage of making you stronger. It also promotes weight loss because building muscle increases your overall metabolism. It can help make your bones stronger and can help you avoid physical injuries.

How do they work together?

The key to getting the most out of cardio and strength training is to use the two types of exercise together because the result is an overall increase in fitness.

When your muscles get stronger, your body can work harder. That means you can get the most out of your cardio. The more efficient your cardio, the more muscle you are going to be able to build.

Building your muscles will also help protect your body from injury during high-intensity cardio sessions. It can help give you a better sense of balance and strengthen your bones against fractures.

Combining cardio and strength training can also help you make more positive changes in your body. While aerobic exercise is excellent for weight loss, adding strength training will help you lengthen and shape your muscles.

cardio or strength training?

There is no specific recommended ratio of strength training to cardio exercise because everyone has different limitations and goals. If you are trying to pump up your muscles, you may wish to do more strength training. If you are focusing on weight loss, you may want cardio to be your primary activity.

Try a variety of approaches if you aren't sure how to incorporate the two types of exercise. Many people like to focus on either strength or cardio one day and the other the next. For example, they may do three cardio sessions a week with two strength sessions in between.

Other people find excellent results by combining the types of exercise into one intense workout. They may do 20 minutes of cardio immediately followed by 20 minutes of strength training and then repeat.

Another favorite way to exercise is to add shorts bursts of intense aerobic activity to your strength training routine. You might do three sets of lifts on one muscle group and then follow that with five minutes of running at top speed.

It's clear that both cardio exercise and strength training offer significant benefits when it comes to getting fit, losing weight, and conditioning your body to perform at its best. When you put the two approaches together, you will find that your workouts are even more effective and that the benefits increase exponentially.

About the author


I’m a personal fitness trainer and nutritionist living in sunny Indianapolis, IN. I’ve spent the last 8 years staying at the forefront of the health and fitness industry. In that time, I’ve helped hundreds of people shed the excess weight and get into shape, maintaining their healthy new lifestyle through proper training and eating habits.