Back to Blog
Cardio vs. Strength Training: Unveiling the Secrets to Fitness Success

The Ultimate Showdown: Strength Training vs. Cardio

cardio myth busting strength training Jan 18, 2024

Unveiling the Secrets to Fitness Success

Strength training and cardio, the dynamic duo of exercise, have been at the forefront of fitness routines for decades. But how do they differ, and what unique benefits do they bring to the table? Each approach advocates for its impact on fitness, and you’ll find many people who strongly believe in one or the other. I’m here to explain why both are important and can work together to achieve a healthy and strong body that will benefit the longevity of your health!

Strength Training

Strength training is exactly what the name implies – exercises such as weight training or bodyweight exercises like push-ups or pull-ups, that are the foundation of building strength in our muscles. It contracts muscles to build strength, boost anaerobic endurance, and build skeletal muscles. The primary goal is to tear and repair muscle fibers, leading to the growth of lean muscle mass.

Enhances Bone Density: The stress placed on bones during resistance training promotes bone density, making strength training particularly important to incorporate into your workout routine as you age to aid you in preventing osteoporosis and maintaining overall bone health.

Improves Functional Strength: Strength training focuses on compound movements that mimic real-life activities. This improves overall functional strength, making daily tasks easier and reducing the risk of injuries.


Cardio is short for cardiovascular exercise – things such as running, cycling, the elliptical and even dancing – that elevate heart rate and improve cardiovascular endurance and health. Cardio has several benefits including reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as lowering blood pressure and improving circulation.

Boosts Mood and Reduces Stress: Cardiovascular exercises release endorphins, the body's natural mood lifters. Regular cardio is associated with reduced stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.

Improves Respiratory Efficiency: Cardio workouts strengthen the respiratory system, enhancing lung capacity and efficiency. This is crucial for overall respiratory health and improved endurance.

Strength Training and Cardio: Differences, Complementary Nature, and FAQs

There is no shortage of debate surrounding the topic of strength training versus cardio. Many people prefer one or the other, but the key is being able to find a healthy balance of both. I’ll address the most popular questions I hear to see if it can help you problem-solve your own debate!

I don’t have a lot of time. Which one should I do? Time efficiency is a great starting point for planning your routine. According to a poll performed by the New York Post, 42% of Americans reported time being their biggest reason for not working out! Strength training sessions are generally shorter but intense, whereas cardio workouts can often require longer durations for optimal results. Combining both can provide a well-rounded fitness routine in a reasonable time frame. Remember, you don’t have to get it all done at once. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. This breaks down into 30 minutes over 5 days. Start small with two 15-minute walks a day and work your way up. You can even add in a few push-ups to incorporate both strength and cardio!

I just want to slim down and lose a few pounds. Won’t strength training make me bulky? Strength training increases your basal metabolic rate, aiding in weight management and fat loss. If you lift heavier weights and rest for a shorter period you can boost the calories being burnt off! Cardio plays a crucial role in burning calories for weight loss, but muscles burn more calories at rest than fat tissue. You will burn fat during your strength training session, but once you are done training you can burn an additional 25% of the calories you just burned in that one session! Let me guess, you’re wondering “How?!”. Post-workout is called your EPOC – Excess Post-Workout Oxygen Consumption. Essentially, it’s the energy your body uses to return to a resting state. This is why I end workouts with a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) routine. The more muscle you have, the more calories you are burning on a daily basis. Yep, even while sitting on the couch! If you are someone who gets hung up on numbers, focus on your pant size - not the scale!

I don’t want to be skinny - I want to build muscle. Won’t cardio decrease my muscle mass? A balanced approach incorporates both to maximize weight management benefits. Cardio is a powerful calorie-burning activity, aiding in weight loss and fat reduction. It creates a calorie deficit, which is essential for shedding excess pounds. When paired correctly with strength training, it will actually boost your muscle mass and help you gain strength. The key is striking that balance when creating your workout schedule. You should be doing more strength than cardio. 

Should I do cardio before or after lifting weights? This is a very popular question, and there is no right or wrong answer – it depends on what your ultimate goal is. If your goal is to improve your endurance, you should do cardio before lifting. If your goal is to burn fat, lose weight, and/or get stronger, save your cardio for after. 

The debate between strength training and cardio is not a matter of choosing one over the other but understanding their unique contributions individually and combined. A well-rounded fitness routine that includes both strength training and cardio is the key to unlocking the full spectrum of health and fitness benefits. So, whether you're lifting weights or hitting the pavement for a run, remember that the magic lies in the synergy between these two powerhouse approaches to exercise!


Coach Tatiana

Don't miss a beat!

New recipes, motivation, and fitness/health benefitsĀ delivered to your inbox.Ā