What is better: Cardio or Strength Training?

When it comes to losing weight, there is always a great debate about the way to do it right. Many people assume all they have to do is run on the treadmill and the pounds will just fall away. Others say ditch the treadmill and stick only to weights. The truth is that a combination of both cardio and strength training exercises, plus a balanced diet, are necessary for weight loss.

Here are a few facts about cardio, strength training and diet that will help you understand why you need to focus on all three areas for weight loss.

Why You Need Cardio

The word “cardio” comes from the Latin word for “heart.” Makes sense, since cardio activities such as running, jumping, dancing, and swimming are all about getting your heart rate up. When you’re working hard and breathing heavily, you are helping to increase your lung capacity and strengthen your heart, which can give you more stamina and can help prevent heart disease.

But if you want to lose weight, you need to make sure that you’re working out at 70 percent of your maximum heart rate or more. That’s when you start burning fat calories, and will start to see a difference in your body’s shape. One of the best ways to do that is to focus on high-intensity interval training – short, intense moves, followed by a recovery period. Intense intervals stimulate muscle-building hormones, which help you build lean muscle mass.

Why You Need Strength Training

Unfortunately, cardio workouts alone won’t make you toned. To do that, you need to add strength training exercises. Strength training exercises help you build muscle mass, which boosts your metabolism and increases the number of calories you burn while you are at rest. In fact, for every three pounds of muscle that you gain, you will burn an extra 120 calories a day – just by sitting there.

And, since muscle is denser than fat, the more muscle you build, the smaller your waistline will become, too.

Why You Need a Healthy Diet

If you’ve ever thought, “I’ll just work off that big piece of cake I just ate,” it’s time to think again. Working out is great, but if you’re putting more calories into your body than you’re burning off, you won’t lose weight. That’s why it’s important to make smart decisions about what you eat, so you’re getting the most nutritional value for the calories you consume. One Oreo cookie, for example, contains about 50 calories, but you could have a small celery stalk smeared with 1⁄2 Tbsp. of natural peanut butter for the same number of calories and feel fuller for longer.

Determining the right kinds of calories to eat each day – and what combination of protein, vegetables, carbs etc. to eat – can be tricky. That’s why it is important to get a personalized nutrition plan to help guide you in making the right dietary choices.