Is Cardio or Weight Lifting Better for the Body?

Many people today dream of losing weight and want to lose weight the fastest and easiest way possible, but most do not consider how the way in which you lose weight will affect you in the future. To further that most people also don’t know which workouts are most suitable for their body type. At the end of the day when you’re looking at the treadmill or the rack of weights right next to you, and both seem just as intimidating, go ahead and pick up the dumbbell, because weight lifting has an increased amount of benefits that you can’t achieve from doing cardio.

The Hard Part

The hardest part of working out is the commitment. I used to run track back in high school, I would run up to three miles a day typically spread out with sprints, even then I was not in great shape. On the weekends I would run a mile and that would be my work out for the day. One mile would take me at most eight minutes, eight minutes of running is not a sufficient workout. I suffered from shin splints by the end of the season, and knees that were constantly aching in the morning, I felt like I was an old lady. After the summer passed I decided to play field hockey, I instantly noticed an improvement in my athletic ability. To warm up we would run a couple miles or so, then we would lift tires, and sprint up bleachers, after that we would do conditioning which involved a lot of muscle training. I loved it, I noticed my legs grew bigger and become more toned with muscle, and finally I was in great shape. After field hockey ended I played soccer, which involved yet again more running, I was still in good shape but after playing these sports season after season in high school I made a realization. I finally realized that I needed to actually lift weights to get the body I wanted.

Weight Training

The major pro to weight lifting is that weight lifting targets body fat specifically and burns it, whereas cardio can burn a number of things from your body. Therefore when you lift you’re not only burning more fat than cardio would, but you’re also toning your body. Toning makes your muscles grow more shapely and provides protection for your muscles. Weight training also provides a number of benefits for athletes, it reduces the risk of ankle sprains, provides better balance, and allows you to bend and pivot faster with ease. In regards to internal health, weight lifting prevents gains of intra-abdominal fat, which is fat that surrounds and constricts our internal organs. Weight lifting also tends to provide more confidence, researchers found that those who lift tend to have more confidence than those who do cardio. The only major con to weight lifting is that it is in fact a commitment, in order to see muscular gains you have to increase the intensity and weight lift periodically throughout the week. Despite the commitment weight lifting entails, it is still better for you when compared to cardio because it provides better benefits.





Now that we know weight training is better for you, let’s look at the pros and cons of doing cardio. The number one pro of doing cardio is that you can burn more calories right on the spot versus weight training. With weight training you will burn 8-10 calories per minute, whereas with cardio you will burn 10-12 calories per minute. The con to that is after your cardio workout is over you will not burn any additional calories, but with weigh training you can burn calories up to 36 hours after you lift weights, even just sitting still, because your muscles are metabolizing. Another pro to doing cardio is that it reduces the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and even some types of cancer. The major con to doing cardio is that most cardio exercises people part take in are those that involve our joints, and when we do cardio for an extended period of time throughout our life it can have a negative consequence on our joints. The last con to doing cardio that I will touch on is that cardio requires high amounts of energy, energy we get from food, therefore if you’re trying to do a high intensity workout you may need a large amount of carbohydrates in order to efficiently perform your workout. When looking at cardio I am not trying to say it is bad for you, there are aspects that are good for the body, but when compared to weight training the benefits of weight lifting outnumber those provided by cardio alone.

cardio v weights


So What’s the Problem?

The problem we face today is that people who work out tend to be very one-sided, most people either identify with weight training or cardio and ignore the possibilities of doing the opposite workout. Most, but not all men tend to gravitate towards weight lifting and most, but not all women typically identify with cardio. The mentality most women possess is that weight lifting is intimidating will make you “bulky”, whereas most men simply want to appear larger and stronger.




runnersweight lifter

Here’s a picture of two men who do cardio and here’s a picture of man that lifts weight. I asked ten woman which man they would prefer and ten out of ten women preferred the weight lifter on the right. Then I asked ten guys which they would prefer to look like, nine out of ten said the man on the right, the weight lifter, the one said he did not care much what he looked like.

The Truth

The truth is that when compared to cardio, weight lifting is the better option out of the two. When the two are not being compared the truth is that you actually need both. A healthy life style involves about “one-third cardio and two-thirds of weight lifting” (Wunsch, 2014). This still proves that weight lifting is better, but for the best results you need to do both weight lifting and cardio.

My Experience

From running track in high school to now spending anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours in the gym a day I have discovered that weight lifting has yielded me the best results. I used to simply run once a day for a short distance and consider that my workout, but instead I do a mixture of things. If it is what I call and many others call “leg day” then I usually go in and do several lunges and squats to work on my muscular endurance. Then I shift to muscular training and squat with a weighted bar followed by lifting that works my quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. If it is my day at the gym designated for arms then I do a ten minute run to get my cardio in, and then I lift with dumb bells to tone my arms and increase my muscular capabilities. Lastly, if it is a day that I work out my abs then I do about thirty minutes of cardio in the beginning of my workout and then move to doing all sorts of crunches, sit ups, and other work outs for my stomach. I have been doing my three day work out plan for about five months, where I do all three different days twice in one week which leaves me with one day off. Since I have started working out this way I have noticed I can lift more, I have more definition throughout my body, and I have decreased my body fat percentage. Therefore from researchers and from what I have observed weight lifting has more benefits than those provided by cardio alone.



Plosser, Sarah. “A WH Fitness Face Off.” Women’s Health. 2 Aug. 2007. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.


“Trainer Q&A: How to Mix Cardio and Strength Building to Zap Fat.” Men’s Fitness. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.


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