Cardio vs weights

20 April 2017 by
First published: 3 January 2017

Personal trainer Patrick Lenhoff reveals the truth behind cardio vs weights.

Each time you enter a discussion with avid gym goers, they convince you that you should definitely take the side of cardio. One week later, you bump into someone who shares a valuable secret with you, namely that weights are the key to happiness. There are so many biased opinions backed up either by science or undeniable proofs that you can get easily confused. Today, we’ll take a look at facts and find out the truth about the timeless competition between cardio and weights.



Cardio is all about that kind of intensive efforts that make your heart, lungs, and blood flow go through the roof. During this kind of training, you rely so much on your muscles, that your vital organs feel the need to intervene and actively support them. Cardiorespiratory exercises will increase your body’s need for nutrients. Thus, your muscles receive more essential compounds while they get rid of the waste remnants that present a burden for their work.

Consequently, your blood circulation will improve, and your internal system will perform better results. This means better health, better respiratory system, better calorie burning process. Cardio also keeps many health risks at bay such as obesity, type II diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and even certain types of cancer. Your body also releases endorphins during such a strenuous performance, so your mood will enjoy a quality improvement.

Due to the fact that your respiratory system is engaged in cardio training entirely, your lungs and heart become stronger. Thanks to this improvement, you will have a better endurance to withstand longer sessions. Throughout the day, you have more energy to carry on your routine, and you do not grow tired too easily.

The best thing about cardio is that you can choose to be active in many forms. You can run, ride the bicycle, swim, attend fitness classes, learn martial arts or hike. Even non-exercise activities can improve your health, and you can see them as daily cardio training. You can never get bored with cardio, and you can exercise both indoors and outdoors.


However, there are also some arguments against cardio.  Running is the best way to put your whole body through intensive work, but it can also be dangerous. Studies show that too many runners are doing it wrong, which can lead to health damages like joint problems. So, before turning yourself into a speedster, it is best to have your nose into some studies on how to run the right way.

Moreover, to activate the maximum capacity of a quality cardio training, you need to accompany it with a low-caloric diet. The more resistant you become, the more you will be able to exercise. But this means that it will take you a longer time to burn the same number of calories that a new runner can after just one mile. After you become a well-trained person, you will be able to engage in more activities. However, your metabolism gets used to your active lifestyle and will work slower. Thus, your endurance will be something of envy, but you won’t burn so many calories in a short period of time. This is why you will need a daily low-calorie intake to sustain your slender shape.



Lifting weights takes less time to become effective than cardio. This is why it is easier for obese people to take up weightlifting rather than start running in the park. It doesn’t put your respiratory system under pressure, so your brain is well oxygenated during the training. On the other hand, you gain strength, and you will increase in size. But the bulkier look will be a good thing, as you will lose fat and gain muscular mass.

The process of bodybuilding is somehow painful. You need to tear up muscle tissue so that it will grow a new layer that will be more powerful than its former shape. To do that, you need to lift weights until you step over your strength threshold. A diet rich in protein is essential for lifting weights. If you don’t feed your body properly, your system will find another source of energy, which will be your muscular mass. So, you need to take proteins one hour after your workout. This will nurture your damaged muscles and will speed up the healing process.

It will take you a shorter period than cardio to record signs of success. This is why weightlifting is a popular choice for beginners. There is a better balance between effort and reward, which encourages them to stick to their training routine.

Weightlifting builds a surplus of protective layers that hardens your body against injury. This kind of training can also help creating additional bone density. And you need to think of your bone mass more after the age of 30. This is the point when your bones are at the maximum strength, and the regeneration stops its work. From here on, it’s only a trip down to health problems like osteoporosis that is a common condition for elders. However, weightlifting can strengthen the bones and protect you against a future where you can’t rely on your body anymore.


There are few variations in training to keep things interesting. It is going to be weightlifting for the entire time. Moreover, the caloric burn will not function as effectively as cardio training. You are also dependent on a trainer during your initiation in weights. Be mindful about this, and choose a professional that is willing to teach you how to gain strength by yourself. Unless you have too much space home, you will also rely very much on a gym membership, which can be pretty expensive.

Cardio vs weights

Now that we revealed the pros and cons of both types of training, we are knowledgeable enough to decide the winner of this confrontation. But the facts indicate that this fight is illusionary. Even though both these two programs rely much on physical exercises, they are two different things. Cardio means endurance training while weight lifting increases your physical strength.

If you want to increase your resistance, gain a slender look, and get rid of that fatigue mood that holds you back from a productive day, entrust your training in the hands of cardio. On the other hand, if you decide that it is in your interest to increase your muscular mass and you want to be able to hold 100 pounds with your finger, go for the weights.

In case you want a general conditioning, there’s no one to stop you from enjoying the benefits of both worlds. You can always dedicate three or four days to lifting and the rest of the week to cardio training. This way, you will keep the body fat level to a minimum, and maintain slender muscle mass.


All in all, choosing sides is a matter of personal preferences. Consequently, the cardio vs weights battle is a topic with subjective results. Depending on your image of the perfect lifestyle as well as personal needs, you are safe to choose either one of them or both.

Author Bio:

Patrick Lenhoff is an ex-athlete and a personal trainer who loves sharing his knowledge with his clients. When he’s not at the gym, he writes about anything related to fitness. ‘My body is my temple,’ he says.