If you’ve recently decided to start working out to keep yourself fit and healthy, then you might be wondering how exactly to plan your workouts. There are a plethora of exercise options out there and it can be daunting to choose which ones you need to incorporate into your routine. Cardiovascular exercise and strength training remain the two most vital tenets of working out, which leads us to the question: Which one should you choose? Should you practise both? If yes, then how must you space them out over the course of your workout schedule?
In this blog, let us look at both cardio and strength training exercises, their benefits and understand whether engaging in both is a good idea.
The Benefits of Cardiovascular Exercise
Cardiovascular exercises, also known as cardio, include activities like running, cycling, swimming, Zumba dance and aerobics. These exercises primarily target the heart and lungs, improving cardiovascular fitness, endurance, and overall health.
Here are some of the health benefits of cardio training:
Improved Heart Health
Cardio workouts increase your heart rate, strengthen the heart muscle and improve blood circulation. This can significantly help lower the risk of heart disease and related issues.
Pumping it out at cardio classes near you burns plenty of calories and thus aids in weight loss. If you’re looking to lose weight, cardio workouts must be your primary exercise regime.
Cardio Improves Mood
Cardiovascular exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural mood elevators. It can reduce stress and anxiety levels, leading to improved mental well-being.
The Advantages of Strength Training
Strength training, also known as resistance or weight training, involves lifting weights or using resistance bands to build muscle strength and endurance. Some benefits of incorporating strength training into your routine include:
Increased Muscle Mass
Strength training promotes muscle growth and development, enhancing your metabolism and contributing to a more toned physique. If building a muscled and bulked-up body is your goal, then your focus should be on strength training.
Better Bone Health
Resistance and weight training exercises can help increase bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and improving overall bone health.
Building muscle strength enhances your ability to perform daily activities with ease, improving overall functional fitness.
Incorporating Both Cardio and Strength Training in Your Exercise Regime
Now that we know the advantages of both cardio and strength training workouts, we’re better positioned to understand whether we can incorporate both exercise types into our workout schedule. The quick answer to that is yes. Practising cardio and strength training means you can get the health benefits of both types of workouts.
But you need to consider your health goal first and know which type of workout suits you best. For example, if your end goal is to lose weight, you can focus more on various forms of cardio and also engage in strength training once or twice a week. On the other hand, if you want to build an imposing physique and improve strength, you can make strength training a priority whilst also engaging in occasional cardio to keep your heart healthy.
How To Space Out Cardio and Strength Training
We know now that practising both cardio and strength training will only add to the benefits of exercise and is a great idea. However, there are some that may want to incorporate both in the same workout session.
A study conducted on this very subject revealed that cardio and strength training do affect each other if practised consecutively without an adequate recovery period. The neuromuscular and aerobic improvements were found to be lacking when both these workouts were done in the same workout session.
The study concluded that two contradictory workouts like cardio and weight training must only be scheduled with a minimum 6-hour recovery period in between. To prevent burnout, it may be even necessary to keep these workouts on different days.
Thus, engaging in cardio as well as strength training can provide a well-rounded exercise experience that benefits the heart and lungs, as well as muscles. But ensure that the time you give each of these workouts is based on your specific goal. Rest and recovery are important, so always keep a gap of at least 6 hours between cardio and strength training.
What is the benefit of combining cardio and strength training?
Combining cardio and strength training will ensure that you can avail the health benefits of both exercises, which are a healthy and efficient cardiovascular system, weight management, increased muscle strength and a toned physique.
Should I do cardio or strength training first in my workout?
Engage in weight training first to save your energy, rest for at least 6 hours and then you can engage in cardio.
Can I combine cardio and strength training in the same workout session?
It is not advisable to combine cardio and strength training in a single workout session, as it may hinder the benefits of either workout. Keep an adequate recovery period of at least 6 hours between the 2 workouts for maximum benefit.