Cardio vs Weight Lifting: Which Is More Effective?


You finally gotten the motivation to hit the road for a run. Your running shoes are laced up and you have the perfect music playlist. But wait. What is that? Someone did a 250 pound deadlift? So you scroll through their Instagram. You marvel at the muscle tone and definition on their body and begin to question the effectiveness of your own routine.

So begins the great debate. To be able to run a thousand miles or lift three times your body weight.

All exercises are equal but some are more equal than others and the weight lifters seem to be winning this round.  Currently weighted squats, dumbell rows and deadlifts have been all the craze not only for their ability to sculpt the body but for their after burn effect.

The after burn effect is the ability for your body to continue to burn calories while at rest. This because as your muscles grow so does your metabolism. Muscles are quite the guzzlers! So while your body would require more fuel and you might start feeling hungrier, you will also burn through any excesses quicker so long as you are eating clean.

While cardio exercises like running tend to burn more calories per workout, the effects usually end with the workout and make them less effective when it comes to losing weight. You also need to do a lot of running to notice visible change. On the bright side, exercises like running are low impact and make them good for almost everybody and the risk of injury is relatively lower.

Your heart rate also quickly adjusts while doing steady state exercise like a jog at a controlled pace. This leads to a ‘plateau’ and after some time it becomes less efficient.

Because gym memberships cost an arm and a leg and a pair of dumbbells may not exactly be on your wish list at the moment, consider doing bodyweight squats or push ups and planks which use your body’s weight as resistance as you practice on acquiring good form before you bring out the big guns in the gym with barbells and weight machines.

If this is still not for you, then HIIT which stands for high intensity interval training which is like a jacked up version of cardio might be for you.

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The varying intensities of the work out provide different conditions for the heart forcing it to work harder to keep up with what your body needs to perform.   HIIT also takes a shorter time and this would the best option for you if time is the main reason why you don’t exercise.

A typical HIIT training would begin with a warm up for about two minutes and pushing yourself with a three minutes run at your fastest speed followed by a two minute rest. After twenty minutes, your workout would be complete but is definitely more beneficial than a forty five minute jog at the same pace.


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Overall, listen to your body and do your own research comprehensively.  The best exercise is the one that is safe for you and that makes you amazing in the end.

To read more about the pros and cons of each workout, Nerd Fitness offers great insights as well as a sample beginner interval training routine. This New York Times article has the best advice on what to do if you want to try some short workouts – Really, Really Short Workouts.


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