People often ask whether cardio or weight training is the best way to fitness, to answer that question, it is best to look at the full body of scientific evidence about the topic. What you find may surprise you, as it did me. I wish I would've read the book Body By Science 14 years ago when I was first certified as a fitness trainer. Once I did make lifestyle choices based on all of the scientific evidence in the book, I have likely saved myself multiple injuries by finally doing SAFE exercise, in the most efficient way possible. Let's talk about it!
Back to the question, cardio or weight training? Fast answer: weight training (or strength training) is the most effective, and is even more effective for cardiovascular benefit. Before all of our modern research about myokines, which are produced in the body during strength training, the fitness industry made a lot of assumptions about aerobic activity and the cardiovascular system. From The Perfect Workout: Learn more about slow motion strength training and many of the misconceptions in modern fitness.
“Strength training is actually the best way to train the cardiovascular system precisely because, unlike what we refer to as “aerobics”, strength training actually involves and stimulates all of the components of the metabolism. This includes the metabolism that goes into the cytosol (the liquid portion of the cell and in the absence of oxygen) and the metabolism that occurs in the mitochondria (in the presence of oxygen). - Doug McGuff M.D. And John Little (Body By Science) p.35
The question of doing cardio or weight training more often is something that fitness trainers seem to relegate to whether the client wants to lose fat as one of their goals. There is this assumption I've seen for years saying low intensity (aerobic) activity is necessary to burn fat, and also an assumption that aerobics will burn more fat than high intensity exercise. The full truth is that high intensity slow motion strength training activates hormone-sensitive lipase, which makes it possible to lose fat at a higher pace. This entire process is discussed in greater detail in the book Metabolism at a Glance, another helpful textbook that gets down to the science of exercise.
“The only way to get your cardiovascular system to work harder is by performing mechanical work with muscle. Any increase in muscular demand simultaneously increases the involvement of your cardiovascular system to a much greater extent. So you are always “doing cardio” in the popular sense of the term whenever you do anything – or nothing.” Body by Science p.38
Put your exercise time into weight training and you will get the best benefits to your cardiovascular system and your metabolic response. I mention this very often, we want to add muscle to our bodies because for every extra pound of muscle we can burn another 37.5 calories every day. Imagining adding 9 pounds of muscle to our bodies, this increases our resting metabolism to burn more than 300 calories more every day.
I do only two 20 minute strength training sessions every week, because the most recent scientific research points to this being the most productive and safe way to exercise! I will be releasing some Udemy video courses that I've developed soon, some for free, some for purchase, but I always suggest for maximum safety: It's so helpful to have a fitness trainer watching your form and breathing while doing these high intensity exercise.
The Perfect Workout have the best trained fitness coaches to keep you safe and guide you through the most effective exercise you've every experienced, I use our method for ALL of my clients, performing over 130 workouts last month. I HIGHLY recommend our weight training program at The Perfect Workout. Their system has changed my family's life! Your first session is free if you tell them I (Jonathan Gentry) sent you! Join us in better health and fitness!