This summer is all about wellness! With gyms safely reopening, it’s time to start getting back into a healthy workout routine. But after all this time, where should you start?
No matter if you’re an avid gym-goer or just getting back into the swing of hitting the gym, you may still be grappling with the cardio vs. weights debate. Pumping iron and jogging on the treadmill are both great forms of exercise — there’s no denying that. But is one better for weight loss? What about building muscle or increasing stamina?
We’re here to break down what’s best for you the next time you head to the gym by settling the great weight lifting vs. cardio discussion once and for all.
Cardio vs. Strength Training For Overall Health
Before reaching a final verdict on whether cardio or strength training should be incorporated into your workout routine, let’s cover some pros and cons of each form of exercise.
Pros and Cons of Cardio
Cardio, like jogging, raises your heart and breath rates and, in the long term, can improve the function of your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. When doing cardio consistently, you may experience benefits such as:
- Burn calories quickly
- Improved stamina
- Better sleep
- Good for weight loss
However, there are also a few cons of exclusively doing cardio, such as:
- Overtraining (which you can actively work to avoid with these tips)
- Muscle loss
- Fat retention (you may reach a plateau with your weight loss)
- Hard on your joints
Pros and Cons of Strength Training
What about strength training? Push-ups, using resistance bands, and free weights also come with their pros and cons. Let’s start with a few benefits:
- Build muscle
- Improve strength
- Better coordination
- Promotes bone health
- Also good for weight loss
- Better calorie burns over the course of the day compared to weights (the afterburn effect is real!)
And like with cardio, there are also some cons that come with only doing strength training:
- Risk of injury and muscle tears
- Steeper learning curve
As you can see, when it comes to cardio vs. strength training for weight loss and health, there’s no one exercise that’s better than the other. Experts agree that the best thing you can do for your health is a combination of cardio and weights.
Cross-training with weights and cardio (regardless of which you may prioritize) can help you burn calories, lose weight, and build muscle. Where cardio lacks muscle toning, strength training helps. Make sure to incorporate both cardio and strength training into your workout routine, whether you alternate days or tackle a little bit of both during one gym session. You might also find that you can get your heart rate up by (safely) lifting heavier weights or incorporating HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) into your strength training routine.
Cardio and Strength Training Exercises
Looking for some cardio and strength training exercises to help your cross-training journey? Here are some to consider, starting with cardio exercises:
- Crab walk
- Butt kicks
- High knees
- Lateral shuffle
- Jumping jacks
- Box jumps
Other cardio activities that can get your heart rate up are jogging, Zumba, swimming, and aerobics.
Some strength training exercises you can do at the gym are:
- Overhead shoulder press
- Floor press
- Barbell deadlift
- Arnold press
- Single-leg deadlift
You also can’t go wrong learning how to use any strength training equipment at your gym. However, having the proper form and understanding of how to safely use the equipment is key to having a safe and effective workout. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from a trainer to help you get started.
Don’t Forget Pre- and Post-Workout Snacks
After covering the benefits of cardio vs. weights, we can’t forget to mention the importance of incorporating healthy and filling snacks into your workout routine. Eating the right foods before and after your exercise is important for fueling your body for your workout and helping it heal afterward.
Our Whole30 menu is full of delicious and filling meals that are balanced in veggies, protein, and healthy fats, which is the perfect formula for a good workout. Try some of our favorites like:
- Cajun Salmon
- Turkey Meatloaf
- Romesco Chicken
- Za’atar Chicken
- Cod Piccata
And that’s not all we offer. Our high-protein menu meals all contain 30-35g of protein or more per meal and are great ways to up your protein intake after a workout. Check out some of our favorite protein-packed meals you can indulge in after a cross-training session:
- Naked Chicken
- Almost Crusted Salmon
- Chicken Chile Enchiladas
- Bison Quinoa Bowl
- Honey Dijon Roasted Chicken
- And more!
You already have enough on your plate with a new workout routine, and making delicious meals shouldn’t be an added hassle. With Snap Kitchen meals, all you need to do to enjoy a nutrient-dense, protein-packed lunch or dinner is to heat it up! When you come home from the gym exhausted from a cross-training workout, you can easily heat up a dinner that tastes gourmet with a fraction of the work — no cooking or cleaning pots and pans required!
Learn more about workout tips and tricks and more healthy meal inspiration on the Snap Kitchen blog.