Why Strength Training Trumps Cardio

  • Written By:Danielle Diamond
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Before you get worried you’ll need to ditch your beloved SoulCycle class, relax, we’re not going there. Instead, think about what the number one thing we all wish we had more of, even before money is? Yep, time. And what is one thing that gets ditched when we don’t have enough time in our day? If you said “exercise”, you’re on to something.

So how do we find more time, yet still be able to do the one thing that should never be negotiable on our to-do list? We find a multi-tasking workout that gets our heart rate up and builds muscle at the same time. I know, genius.

Both cardio and strength training are important and have many of the same benefits, such as strengthening your heart and reducing your risk of developing a ton of other health issues, including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis, but strength training reaps benefits where cardio falls short. I’m not saying that the aforementioned spin fest is a waste of time, but if you don’t have a ton of it to put towards exercising, then incorporating weights should be your priority, and here’s why:

Strengthens Bones and Muscles

Strength training fights bone and muscle loss that comes from increased stress on bones. The tugging and pushing on the bone that occurs during strength and power training provide the stress, which stimulates extra deposits of calcium and nudge bone-forming cells into action. The result is stronger, denser bones.

Improves Balance & Flexibility

Strength training prevents injuries and falls since strong muscles are important for balance and coordination. Results from a 2017 study in the journal Isokinetics and Exercise Science show that strength training improves flexibility.

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Strength training also improves mental health.

Prevents Fat Increases

Strength training is more effective at preventing increases in abdominal fat than cardiovascular exercise, according to a Harvard study.

Reduces Cardiovascular Disease Risks

It may be more effective at reducing cardiovascular disease risks than cardio exercise such as walking and biking, according to research from the ACC Latin America Conference 2018.

Boosts Metabolism

It boosts your metabolism, so you burn more calories throughout the day. This one gets most people excited, and rightfully so. One study showed that after working out with weights, your metabolism can actually be boosted for up to 38 hours post-workout. That might not sound so epic, but If you add up every time you workout over a month it can mean a few extra slices of pizza or margaritas.

But here’s the great thing, it’s not just about the physical benefits. Research published by Jama Psychiatry found that strength training also improves mental health. Not only from those exercise-triggered endorphins, but also because strength training provides an opportunity to overcome obstacles in a controlled, predictable environment, increasing mental resilience. Something as simple as increasing your weights from 5 to 8 pounds can seem like a big victory.

Plus, a 2015 [Journal of Extension study](https://joe.org/joe/2013august/a2.php) of middle-aged women, showed that consistent strength training improves body image and perceived physical appearance even if the aesthetics don’t change. But in reality, another benefit to lifting weights is that the results are relatively fast and noticeable.

Relying solely on cardio exercises will not get you the toning and definition you desire, because strength training builds muscle, which takes up less space than fat, which means fewer inches on your body and a smaller jean size.

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The best news? Strength training can be turned into a cardio workout simply by adding intervals with lighter weights and more repetitions because as long as you’re increasing your heart rate and breathing, then you’re doing a cardio workout. These workouts are usually referred to as circuit training.

During a circuit training session, you perform a number of weight lifting exercises with as little rest as possible in between. It’s a great option when you have a limited amount of time to workout but want all the benefits of cardio and strength training workout combined.

To take it a step further you can up the multitasking benefits by combining upper and lower body dynamic movements that also challenge the core- it’s like getting three workouts in one. Think about doing a walking lunge with bicep curls, or squats with an overhead press.

Sound exhausting? It’s definitely challenging but just think of the progress you’ll make in half the time. Time you can spend enjoying those extra slices and margaritas with friends.

Danielle Diamond has been a yoga and lifestyle expert for over 17 years. She has written for Yahoo Beauty and The Huffington Post, and has appeared on the Today Show, Dr. Oz, Shape, Yoga Journal and Self Online. She was featured in Bobbi Brown’s Pretty Powerful campaign and is a featured teacher on YogaVibes and YogaDownload. Danielle teaches at A-list wellness events in NYC and The Hamptons, hosted by Wellthily, Gurney’s Inn and Yoga Journal. You can grab one of her free, 30 minute yoga with weights videos here.

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