What’s Better, Cardio or Strength Training?
It seems that nearly everyone who wants to lose weight, thinks, that the best approach is to do long duration, sometimes in excess of an hour, slow-paced cardio. In fact, if you were to ask people what they think are the best methods to lose weight, prevent heart disease and heart attacks, and strengthen the heart, you can bet that 9.9 times out of 10, they will say with conviction, “ya gotta do cardio”
Over the years, I’ve done thousands of fitness assessments with people whose primary goal was to “lose weight” or “tone up”. Whenever I had given my two cents as to what I think would be their best approach (weight training, nutrition, supplementation and rest being the priority), to losing weight, which never included cardio, I always heard, “What about cardio. Isn’t cardio good for the heart?”
What Is The Purpose Of The Heart?
This may come as a shock to you, especially if you’re a part of the,“cardio is good for the heart”, crowd. The heart’s purpose is to what? Pump and supply the body and muscles with blood, right? Good, you know that. Another way to put it, is cardiovascular fitness is generally defined as the ability to sustain strenuous activity, involving large muscle groups, for an extended period of time. (Does that not sound like something that strength training can accomplish?)
So What Would Be The Best Way To Strengthen The Heart?
For most, the train of thought is probably something along these lines – “cardio increases your heart rate, therefore is good for the heart, right”?Let’s think about this now. If the train of thought is that, increasing the heart rate is good for the heart, then wouldn’t exercises/activities that increase the heart rate, and stroke volume, the most, be the most beneficial for the heart? Hmmm...
Let’s compare cardio to weight training, without the use of data gathered from peer-reviewed scientific experimentation, and just go with common sense. Pick a piece of cardio equipment, and pick a weight training exercise. Let’s say the treadmill vs. the squat. Could you, walk or jog on the treadmill for more than one minute? Most likely you could. Could you get under a barbell and squat all the way to the floor and back up for a minute (assuming that you don't have any glaring mobility issues preventing you from squatting through a full range of motion)? Depending on the amount of weight, you may. Even if you used a light enough weight to squat for a whole minute, do you think you could go for two minutes? Or even three? Not likely.
So really, if you look at it from that perspective, which exercise/activity, would you consider to be more beneficial for the heart? Which do you think is going to get the heart rate and stroke volume up fastest and highest? Remember, it’s the effort that will determine the result. Cardio simply does not require much effort considering you could do it for more than an hour straight, and most people that try to lose weight, do more than an hour!
It goes without saying that weight training alone will do more for your heart than cardio will. Unless of course, you were only training with minimal intensities (percentage of maximum). What I mean by that is, cardiac output is directly related to the intensity of the exercise, so if you’re using relatively light weights, you’ll get a relatively lower increase in cardiac output.
Does The Intensity Of Weight Training Matter, Or Is Simply Lifting Weights Enough?
The amount of weight you lift, relative to your current strength levels, definitely matters because, as you get stronger, your heart actually has to do less work when lifting a certain weight, because the weights that were once difficult to handle, are now easier for you. This is another reason why progressively challenging yourself is important.
Now that you probably have a better idea that strength training is superior for cardiovascular conditioning, if you use an appropriate intensity, let’s talk about whether or not cardiovascular training has any strength benefits.
Strength Training Has Cardiovascular Benefits, But Does Cardiovascular Training Have Strength Benefits?
We all know that lifting weights will make our muscles stronger. And we now know that, strength training will also strengthen our heart to a greater degree, more so than cardiovascular training. But, are there any benefits to cardio at all in comparison to strength training?
The answer to that question varies as it could increase some strength in some individuals (not nearly as much as weight training exercises would), but likely wouldn’t have that great of an effect in most. If anything, cardiovascular training would only contribute to current muscular imbalances within the body.
Can Cardiovascular Exercise Create Greater Strength/Muscular Imbalances?
Cardiovascular training, from a mechanical standpoint, is nearly identical to the everyday movements that created your imbalances in the first place. Walking on a treadmill is damn near the same thing as walking on the ground (although the recruitment pattern may be slightly different, which is why it feels funny at first when getting off the treadmill and walking on still ground.)
Pedalling away on a stationary/recumbent bike is not much different than riding an actual bicycle. These movements are the same ones that created imbalances in the first place, and doing them at higher intensities may build muscle, but the muscle that is built is primarily the same muscle that is already somewhat built from just being alive and active.
What Are The Most Common Muscular Imbalances In Humans Developed From Everyday Life That Are Accentuated By Cardiovascular Training?
VMO – weak in relation to the vastus lateralis due to the fact that the majority of movements we perform do not require us to fully flex and extend the knee (the VMO is most active through the first and last 15 degrees of knee flexion/extension)
Hamstrings – weak in relation to the quadriceps due to the insufficient volume and tension they receive during everyday movements (walking and various forms of gait). Also, if there is an imbalance between the VMO and vastus lateralis, it will influence the way in which you turn your foot while walking, running etc. which will create imbalanced development between the different hamstring muscles (biceps femoris, semimembranosus, semitendinosus)
External Rotators Of The Shoulder – weak in relation to the internal rotators (pecs + lats) due to insufficient volume and tension during everyday movements (it is rare that everyday life requires us to externally rotate against resistance. If anything we’d adjust our positioning to make it easier for us to favour the bigger stronger internal rotators)
Scapula Retractors – weak in relation to the pecs and front deltoid due to insufficient volume and tension during everyday movements (it is rare that everyday life requires us to pull and retract our shoulders against resistance)
Rectus Abdominus (abs) – weak in relation to the erectors of the lower back due to insufficient volume and tension during everyday movements (most people have weak abs, relative to the erectors, due to sitting at a desk or in a car for a major portion of their daily life)
These imbalances are only exaggerated with cardiovascular exercises. Allow me to break down a few of the most commonly performed cardiovascular exercises.
What you can do on a treadmill: The majority of people that get on a treadmill will either walk, jog or run. Occasionally you will see an odd ball doing what appears to be some sort of tribal dance with their arms waving all over the place as they move along, or others, for whatever reason, will decide to walk backwards, but for the most part, all you can do on a treadmill are the exact same forms of gait you’ve done your entire life to get around.
First, let’s take a look at the “pros”, if I could even call them that, of using the treadmill.
If you run as fast as you can, which most people don’t, you will increase lactate build up, which will increase natural growth hormone production and slow down the aging process. That’s pretty good eh? (You could have ten times the effect with weight training though, but that’s not the point)
Now let’s take a look at the “cons”, and structural effects that walking, jogging, running, and even walking backwards on a treadmill will have on your development.
Walking, running etc, regardless of whether or not it’s on a treadmill, does not require the knee to fully flex of extend, therefore neglects the VMO at the expense of the vastus lateralis making the imbalance greater, which can ultimately lead to patellofemoral pain syndrome, as well as a host of other issues (ex. imbalanced development between the different hamstring muscles).
The hamstrings are not required to forcefully contract, unless you’re running at full speed, therefore creating a larger imbalance between the hamstrings and the quadriceps due to insufficient intensity. Even if you chose to run at full speed, the hamstrings are primarily made up of fast twitch fibers, therefore are conditioned to forcefully contract for a very limited time. Running at full speed for extended periods of time increases the chance of injuring the hamstrings. So, whether you run at full speed or not, the risk is not worth the reward at all.
The handles are there for laziness, I mean to monitor your heart rate, and holding onto them only promotes a shortening of the pec/internal rotators, at the expense of the external rotators and scapula retractors. A tight/short pec will encourage the development of kyphosis, protracted shoulder girdle, or winged scapula, all of which can lead to the development of a shoulder impingement.
If you slouch or lean onto the handle, to help cope with the tremendous amount of fatigue that takes place from walking on a treadmill, the abdominals will not generate sufficient tension, therefore contributing to an imbalance between the already weak abs in relation to the overactive spinal erectors, which will lead to uneven load sharing between the muscles of the core and present itself as chronic low back pain due to repetitive stress/overuse.
If you have bad posture, which indicates that imbalances are rampant throughout your body, performing more of the same movements that created them (walking or running with poor posture/technique), will only make things worse, not better!
So, as far as the treadmill is concerned, it enables you to be “active”, but at the expense of creating, or furthering, muscular imbalances. Fantastic piece of equipment, isn’t it? What would we do with all that extra space in the gym if there wasn’t dozens of treadmills lined up all over the place?
Next we have the beloved spin bikes! “YAY! He’s going to talk about spinning” is what you're thinking, isn't it?
What you can do on a spin bike: Unlike the treadmill, in which you have the freedom to go forwards, backwards, sideways etc, the spin bike offers very little variation in which you can utilize this piece of equipment. With a spin bike you can either pedal forwards, or if for some reason you felt like it, you could pedal backwards (have fun with that).
First, let’s take a look at the “pros”, if you will, of using the spin bike.
Much like you could on the treadmill, if you pedal as fast as you can, or against the highest level of resistance (relative to your current strength levels), you can increase lactate build up, which increases natural growth hormone production, which will slow down the aging process. (Once again, spinning is dwarfed in comparison to weight training as far as lactate build up is concerned, but once again, that’s beside the point)
With that being said, let’s take a look at the“cons”, and imbalances created, or exaggerated, from spinning.
Spinning does not place adequate tension on the VMO, as the majority of the tension is generated to move the pedals is from the vastus lateralis, therefore further exaggerating the imbalance between the VMO and vastus lateralis which can lead to patellofemoral pain syndrome and a host of other problems.
Spinning promotes a shortening of the hip flexors because it does not place adequate tension on the glute maximus due to the seated, flexed hip position while on a spin bike, unless you prop your butt up in the air and kick down and back hard with your heel, which then will lead to a shortening/tightening of the pec/internal rotators by default of having to hold onto the handle bars, to prevent yourself from falling off the bike.
Even if you chose to perform the movement like that, it isn't likely you could maintain that position for very long, which in turn will promote a shortening/tightening of the hip flexors when you drop down onto the seat due to fatigue. Tight hip flexors equals chronic low back pain. (All caused, or worsened from the beloved spin bike. Sorry spinners, that chronic low back pain you’ve developed was caused by your insatiable need to wait in line at the front of the gym, for up to half an hour in most cases, to sign up for your bike and spin 3-4 times a week.)
Holding onto the handle, which most do, as it enables you to pedal faster, promotes a shortening of the pec/internal rotators, regardless of how you perform the movement (pedal forwards or backwards), which will negatively affect the imbalanced development of the external rotators and scapula retractors. A shortening/tightening of the pec/internal rotators will lead to the development of kyphosis, protracted shoulder girdle, winged scapula, and internally rotated humeri, all of which can lead to the development of a shoulder impingement.
Spinning does not place the hamstrings under enough tension, in relation to the quadriceps, to develop or maintain optimal development between themselves and the quadriceps, furthering the imbalance between the two.
Spinning does not require the abdominals to generate sufficient tension, due to the slouched over position of the exercise, therefore contributing to an imbalance between the abs and erectors, which will lead to uneven load sharing between the muscles of the core and present itself as chronic low back pain.
So, as far as the spin bike is concerned, it may be fun to be in a class with music pumping really loud, and an instructor yelling at you to go faster, but the benefits are completely overshadowed by the negative side effects caused by it. If you take out the “fun factor” that people experience while spinning, the spin bike, much like the treadmill, is just a complete waste of space that could be occupied by additional barbells and dumbells that will have a much more profound effect on changing your physique rapidly and more permanently.
On to the next one, as they say.
The Step Mill (Stair Master):
What you can do on the step mill: I should have changed that to, what can’t you do on a step mill! All joking aside, the step mill offers very little, even in comparison to the spin bike or the treadmill. As you may now see, it is the effort that produces a positive hormonal response. While the treadmill or spin bike enables you to go at relatively high intensities, the step mill is pretty limited when it comes down to it. You can go forwards up the steps, backwards, some people try to go sideways (to incorporate the glutes of course!), and you can even speed up the rate at which the steps move. Even at its fastest however, you can’t physically exert yourself as much as if you were full out sprinting.
The step mill has become rather popular with bodybuilders due to the fact that arguably the greatest bodybuilder to ever live, Ronnie Coleman, used the step mill in his preparation for the repeated Mr. Olympia competitions that he won (you can find a number of different videos of him on youtube doing his cardio on the step mill. It’s actually rather funny to watch because he looks like he’s bigger than the actual step mill, and makes it look like climbing stairs at a snail's pace is the hardest thing in the world. When you’re unnecessarily massive like him, anything would be difficult, besides manhandling enormous amounts of weight, which you can also see him do on youtube. It’s really quite impressive). It’s reasons like, “if Ronnie does it, then it must be good”, that have warped the minds of wanna be Mr. Olympia’s, and recreational bodybuilders that just want to be in the best shape they can, that has made the step mill one of the most sought after pieces of cardio equipment in the gym.
Let’s take a look at the “pros”, and I use that term loosely, of the step mill.
Sorry for this lame description of the pros of the step mill, but the pros of using the step mill are... umm... are there any? Well I guess if I had to just sort of come up with one I’d say that it would make the stairs in your house (unless you live in a bungalow or apartment with elevators) seem less challenging. Honestly though, if you weigh over 300 lbs., regardless of whether it’s muscle or fat, then climbing up steps would be a lot more challenging than a walking on a treadmill, and probably safer than riding a bike (because the bike may break), so in those cases it may be a better option to at least contribute to some level of activity.
Now for the “cons” of the heavily popular, amongst bodybuilders, step mill.
The step mill does not place adequate tension on the VMO due to the limited range of motion in the knee when climbing a step, which will exaggerate an imbalance between the VMO and the vastus lateralis and can ultimately lead to patellofemoral pain syndrome, as well as a host of other issues (ex. imbalanced development between the different hamstring muscles).
The hamstrings are not required to generate tension throughout their entirety which can lead to an imbalance between the different muscles that make up the hamstring itself (biceps femoris, semimembranosus, semitendinosus).
Holding onto the handles to help climb each and every step, promotes a shortening of the pec/internal rotators, which will negatively affect the imbalanced development of the external rotators and scapula retractors. A shortening/tightening of the pec/internal rotators will lead to the development of kyphosis, protracted shoulder girdle, winged scapula, and internally rotated humeri, all of which can lead to the development of a shoulder impingement.
The step mill does not require the abdominals to generate sufficient tension due to the slouched over position of the movement (you’ll notice most people look like they’re nearing the top of mount everest when on a stair master), therefore contributing to an imbalance between the abs and erectors, which will lead to uneven load sharing between the muscles of the core and present itself as chronic low back pain.
So, as for the step mill is concerned, unless you are over 300 lbs. (if you’re a bodybuilder, that’s less than 1 percent of you), the benefits of using the step mill are overwhelmingly dominated by the cons, as well as the fact that other pieces of cardio equipment have far more to offer (and that’s saying a lot!) Thank god I’ve never seen more than 2 step mills beside each other ever. Those things take up so much space considering the benefits of using them will only be had by less than 1 percent of the training population!
Next up, we have the cardio machine that people do if they also want to “tone” their upper body, without the risk of getting bulky! That’s right, next up we have the rowing machine!
The Rowing Machine:
What you can do on the rowing machine: ROW! And that’s about it! This machine calls for you to sit on your butt (which most do for over one third of their day anyway), and pull a handle into your midsection while driving the seat back and forth with your legs. Phenomenal piece of equipment isn’t it? (Sorry for the sarcasm, even as I’m writing this, I’m starting to get annoyed with myself. You’ve got to understand, it’s really difficult for me to try and promote all these pieces of cardio equipment when I know how much more worthwhile it is to just train with weights)
So let’s take a look at the “pros” of using the rowing machine.
In comparison to the other pieces of cardio equipment, there is a greater deal of tension created in the upper body. Not a significant amount that you’ll actually gain strength from it, but more tension nonetheless. Obviously if you are a rower, then this piece of equipment is of great value to you, especially if you live in an area of the world that experiences winter, making it difficult to get out on the water and practice during the winter months.
So, what are the “cons”, and imbalances created or worsened, that come from using the rowing machine?
The fact that you’re in a seated, hip flexed position, promotes a shortening of the hip flexors. As I said earlier, tight hip flexors equals chronic low back pain. (Ya did it to yourself, rowers)
The rowing machine does not require the abdominals to generate much tension, if any, at all, due to the mechanics of the movement, therefore contributing to an imbalance between the abs and erectors, which will lead to insufficient load sharing between the muscles of the core and present itself as chronic low back pain. The imbalance is exaggerated even further, due to the fact that, as you fatigue you’ll start to generate momentum with the lower back muscles to keep going.
Based on the fact that you have to hold onto the handle, usually with a pronated grip, to perform the movement, a shortening/tightening of the pec/internal rotators is likely, which will negatively affect the development of the external rotators.
A rowing movement encourages rounding of the upper back to generate momentum as fatigue accumulates, which will lead to muscular imbalances that can encourage the development of kyphosis, protracted shoulder girdle, or winged scapula, all of which can lead to the development of a shoulder impingement.
The majority of force produced from the quads to push the seat back and forth comes from the vastus lateralis, which furthers the imbalanced development between the VMO and vastus lateralis. As you already know, this can lead to patellofemoral pain syndrome and a host of other problems.
So, as far as the rowing machine is concerned, unless you are a rower, or want to be a rower, this machine offers less than something like the treadmill or spin bike. Even at its highest intensity, the row machine does not equate to that of an all out sprint.
Finally, the elliptical! This machine is promoted to be a better option than the treadmill, because it is lower impact on the knees! I don’t know about you, but that’s enough to sell me on the elliptical! (Oh please)
What you can do on the elliptical: Unlike the treadmill, or even the step mill, in which you can go forwards, backwards, or sideways, with the elliptical you are pretty much stuck facing forward with the“luxury” of cycling your feet forwards, or if you feel like living on the edge you can face forwards while back pedalling! Remarkable! Aside from that, you can also hold onto handles that provide resistance, so that the upper body is not... how do I say this... neglected. (I wasn’t going to go there, but I can’t help it – The elliptical will do nothing for the upper body in terms of development! There, I said it. I feel better now. Moving on)
Now, let’s take a look at the “pros”, if there are any, for using the elliptical.
Just as you would imagine, the elliptical is a lot less stressful on the knee joints. You can adjust the resistance to make things more or less difficult, but once again, no setting on the elliptical will amount to an all out sprint. If you have “bad knees” then the elliptical may appeal to you. But what you don’t realize is, the elliptical may actually make things worse (more on that later, as this paragraph is designated for the pros, remember. Actually that was pretty much it for the pros).
So, what are the “cons” of using the elliptical?
First, by taking out the natural impact that there is whenever you walk on something like the ground (but who does that?), you condition your neuromuscular system to become lax, as it does not need to recruit as many muscle fibers in the muscles involved in stabilizing the knee.
When you get off the elliptical, and walk on the ground, the lack of activation in the muscles supporting the knee will lead to elevated compressive forces passing through the knee, which can obviously lead to permanent soft tissue damage.
So, while the elliptical may seem like a better bet for those with “bad” knees, it is actually worse for them in the long run. If we lived in some sort of magical play land and walked on clouds, then the elliptical would be just as worthless, I mean effective, as a treadmill. But since we don’t, and gravity is constantly pulling us toward the Earth, the elliptical is even more worthless than the treadmill.
On top of that, if you decide to hold onto the handles and throw on some resistance, the major muscles involved in pushing and pulling the handles are the same ones that are already strong points in your body.
The muscles involved in pushing the handle are the front deltoid, pec, and tricep, and the muscles involved in pulling are the bicep, forearm, and the rear deltoid and upper lat to a very minimal extent. Aside from the rear deltoid, strengthening and developing those muscles further will promote the development of a protracted shoulder girdle, winged scapula, and internally rotated humeri, all of which can lead to the development of a shoulder impingement.
Due to the lack of range of motion that the knee goes through on the elliptical, the majority of tension created by the quadriceps comes from the vastus lateralis, which further contributes to imbalanced development of the VMO in relation to the vastus lateralis, which as previously mentioned can lead to patellofemoral pain syndrome and a host of other problems.
Due to the fact that the majority of tension passes through the front of the knee (quadriceps), especially if you back pedal, the hamstrings do not receive a significant amount of tension to maintain or correct any imbalances between them and the quadriceps.
So, to answer the question, does cardio have any strength training benefits to it? Yes, but I wouldn't necessarily refer to them as positive benefits. More like just digging yourself into a deeper hole than you’re already in, making it harder for you to create a balanced, pain-free physique in the long run.
I can’t just end this debate there though. This article wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t weigh out the “pros” and “cons” of strength training. It would be rather biased and unfair to just pick apart all the pieces of cardio equipment that occupy 60% of the space in many gyms without doing the same with strength training.
So without further ado, here we go.
What you can do with weights: You’re probably thinking that this is the part where I’m going to glorify weight training and do my best to make it seem superior to cardio, but I don’t necessarily need to. I’ve already done that. The benefits of training with weights speak for themselves. What I’m going to do here is point out all the flaws that there are with weight training.
Before I go on, I want to mention that, if everyone knew what they were doing, and how to work out properly and correct imbalances developed from their specific lifestyle, there would be no “cons”,so to speak, for training with weights. But (yes there’s a but), because the majority of people that work out are clueless as to, how to lift weights, and to develop a structurally sound program personalized to them, weight training can be far worse than any of the pieces of cardio equipment that I discussed earlier.
You see, lifting weights will strengthen your muscles, which can be both a positive, as well as a negative thing. If you are doing the right exercises for your body, based on your strengths and weaknesses, and are doing them properly, with the right amount of intensity, for the right amount of reps, and right amount of sets, and taking the right amount of rest, then weight training will have nothing but positive effects.
On the other hand, if you are just sort of doing exercises that you see other people do, either in the gym or on youtube, and have no concise goal with an appropriate plan to accomplish that goal, then you may be doing more than just wasting your time.
I’m not going to bother with outlining the“pros” of strength training, as the list could simply go on forever as there are just too many “pros”.
I’m just going to simply cover a few of the most common “cons”, that there are for weight training I’ve witnessed over my years in the gym.
NUMBER ONE: 99% of people DO NOT KNOW HOW TO LIFT WEIGHTS PROPERLY!
It is just astounding how many people actually pay for a gym membership and do not bother to hire someone to teach them how to do work out properly! I mean, hiring a personal trainer is one of the last things people want to do when joining a gym.
Whether or not there are any good trainers at their gym is another story, but if you haven’t been taught you wouldn’t know anyway.
I think about all the other recreational activities that people participate in like golf or tennis in the summertime, and skiing or snowboarding in the wintertime, and how people sign up for an instructor before they even try because they don’t want to waste their time or money.
I know this to be the case because members of my own family participate in the above seasonal activities, and the individuals I'm referring to specifically budget in the total overall cost of the membership to the country/ski club plus the cost of the instructor before signing up.
For some reason though, when it comes to building the body you want, people would rather “try it on their own” and figure it out for themselves. Now, I’m not sure what the real statistics are on this, or if anyone has ever done a study on it. But, I would be willing to bet all that I have, that the amount of people that figure out how to lift weights properly on their own, is less than 1%! I’ll even guarantee that!
But that’s enough about point number one, and the fact that people don’t know how to lift weights properly. Let’s move on to point number two.
Regardless of whether or not people are doing exercises properly, the majority, and I mean majority, as in almost everyone, does not have any sort of structured personalized plan to follow at all.
Let me clarify something before I continue. The workout that some bodybuilder or fitness model, that you want to look like, is doing in a magazine you bought at the grocery store is NOT PERSONALIZED TO YOU! This is something that actually blows my mind. When I see people walking around the gym with a magazine cut out, or a program printed off some internet site, trying to copy it, I can’t help but wonder what exactly sold them as to why they think they should be doing it. I feel that people convince themselves that the workout they see in a magazine, or wherever, is for them because they want to look like the model in the photos.
I know, if you’ve read any of my other articles, you may be thinking that I’m a hypocrite because I have an article titled “Blueprint Of An Effective Program”, but to be clear, it’s just a blueprint. I’m not saying that it is for everyone, or that you should even be doing it. All it is, is an example of what a program with all the loading parameters adjusted to one goal could look like.
You have to realize that magazines, and other sources of material with workout programs, are meant to make money. They are going to print pictures of models that people will look at and say “that’s what I want to look like”, and put together an exercise routine beside the pictures to get you to buy it.
What you don’t realize is that the model, whether it be a male or female, is usually tanned, oiled up, under bright lighting, and the photos that get printed are photo shopped to make them look as perfect as possible. The workout printed, usually on the same page as the pictures, suggests that the person being displayed used that routine to develop their body, may not be the case at all, and could very well be a total crock of shit. But hey, at the end of the day it’s about doing whatever is necessary to make you believe it so that you buy it.
Doing what your friend does is another example of a program that is not personalized to you. Every one of us has different strengths and weaknesses that have developed over the course of our life. Unless your friend happens to be born at the exact same time as you, from the same parents as you, and has done every single thing you’ve done in your life at the exact moment you did, that goes for eating as well, then there is a chance, and a pretty good one at that, that there body requires something different than yours.
You also have to take into consideration that your friend who is trying to teach you what to do, is going to favour exercises or techniques that they’ve found to be effective for them.
What you may not also realize is that your friend may have a different diet than you and may eat different foods that helped them attain the results that they got. There are just too many reasons and/or variables to take into consideration, and is why you shouldn’t just do what your friend does, or tells you to do.
If you don’t know what your imbalances are, or are unsure how to correct them, then following a random program, regardless of where it came from, will most likely make things worse for you. Because lifting weights has a far more profound impact at building lean tissue than any of the pieces of cardio equipment listed throughout this article, lifting weights can make things way worse, way faster. Yet another reason for you to hire somebody worthwhile and prevent these imbalances from getting worse.
I’ll add one final point to the “cons” of weight training, before wrapping this thing up.
NUMBER THREE: 99% of people DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO CHANGE OR WHEN TO CHANGE IT!
Regardless of whether or not people know how to lift weights, or if they have any sort of personalized routine at all, it seems that nearly everyone just does the same thing over and over again.
I was taught this line at one of the gyms I worked at to help with sales. It’s actually more of a quote from the infamous Albert Einstein – “Insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome”. We were taught to say that when asking potential clients what they planned on doing differently to accomplish their goals and prevent plateauing and basically said that the "different" thing they should do, is hire a trainer.
More often than not, people just sat there with a dumbfounded look on their face before saying, “well, I’ll change it up, ya know”? “Actually I don’t know, so why don’t you elaborate” is what I’d usually say. They’d usually stumble over their words and I could feel their awkward insecurity, and then would push for the sale at that moment, because it was my job at the time. (I hated it and am thankful I got out of that part of the fitness industry)
Whenever I asked someone what types of changes they’d make, they’d say things like, “instead of doing the treadmill, I’ll switch to the elliptical”. “You gotta be kidding me” is what I’d be thinking after hearing that. I don’t know why anyone would consider that a significant enough of a change at all, but for some reason there are tons of people that think that is the necessary change that is needed to take their body to the level they want it at.
That’s like saying, “instead of walking on the sidewalk I’m going to walk on the grass”! Uh-oh, here comes the progress you’ve been waiting your whole life for!
I’ve never heard of anyone ever claiming that the biggest change that helped them get to where they are is because they switched from one piece of cardio equipment to another. I’d probably kill myself if I did! That’s how ridiculous that concept is.
There is more than enough material posted on this site to help you with making the necessary changes needed for maximal progression, but I’ll say it again. The major changes that are needed are to the loading parameters (reps, sets, intensity, tension, rest, exercises, routine, etc.).
There, I did it! Ya happy now? Happy at the fact that I didn’t just pick apart all the different pieces of cardio equipment that everybody loves? Happy that I took as hard a shot at strength training, if not harder? Hope so.
The purpose of this article was to simply outline the “pros” and “cons” of the most common activities that people choose to do in the gym, so that you, the reader, can make the best decision for yourself before you just go in there and go nuts. A major point that I didn't cover in this article, but did in my article about cardio, is the fact that anabolic hormones aren't positively affected from low intensity work (typically the traditional way that people perform cardio) and the elevation of catabolic hormones outweigh the benefits of doing cardio all together. The goal with this article was to simply outline the structural effects that take place from performing traditional cardio exercises.
Strength training can strengthen the heart better than cardiovascular training can. Lifting weights requires the heart to pump more blood, more frequently than cardio.
Strength training can make you stronger than cardio can. Lifting weights will make your muscles stronger than any variation of cardio exercise.
Cardio can strengthen your muscles, but will primarily strengthen, to a greater degree, your muscles that are already strong from your everyday lifestyle, therefore creating greater structural imbalances than you already have.
Strength training can effectively correct muscular imbalances developed from everyday life, which includes doing cardio.
Strength training can be far worse than cardio at making your imbalances worse if you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.
If you have any questions about cardio or strength training, or muscular imbalances, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm available for online consulting and personalized program design, as well as one on one training if you are located in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).