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  • Ingri Pauline

Getting results: Strength or Cardio?

There are so many ways to feel the burn, it is easy to get overwhelmed when trying to decide what works best for your fitness. In the long and joyful journey of getting fit and losing weight we have a number of options to aide in changing our bodies. So the biggest question is when to strength training and when to do cardio? The good news is, your goals and preferences will best tell you what will work best to achieve that body you deserve.

Let’s go through a couple of scenarios and find what works for your particular situation:

I spend three, four, five or more hours on the cardio machines, do hundreds of crunches and not seeing a difference in my body.

Ah, yes the Cardio Bunny. I have reason to believe that this is the most depressed person in the gym. If I spent 45 minutes doing running or biking and I didn’t go anywhere I’d be pissed. Pick up some weights and get pumping. You need some strength in your life. And you can eat after your session without undoing all that good work. Plus the chemical rush will cure your boredom.

I was diagnosed with heart condition, high/low blood pressure and/or there is a history of heart attack and heart disease in my family.

CARDIO! STAT! You need to get your heart rate up. And down, and then back up again. Bouts of sprinting or HIIT are best for you and your genetics. Be more careful with lifting max heavy lifts (in the 1-3 rep range). If the condition is really critical, you may want to start slow and then work up to more vigorous activity - but really if you are out of shape, thats the way this process will go anyway. If you are on beta-blockers, check with you doctor about target heart rate.

I want to completely change my body; lose weight and look fit.

Weights and cardio, baby. Too many people think that they will get the body of a god by running and riding bikes. While that my get you a hot set of quads, those beautiful back and shoulders will be sculpted with multiple reps of heavy weight. You gonna start with 3-4 sets of heavy weight in the 8-15 rep range; 12 is a good number to start with.

I’m doing HIIT classes, body pump and Zumba and I’m not really happy with the results.

This is just another version of the Cardio Bunny, but you probably have more fun in the classes than the solo bunny. Google “best glute workout” or “toned arms workout” and take that to the gym. Work within the 8-15 rep range with a heavier weight. Not to mention, are you eating enough? On the quest to lose weight, most people often neglect caloric intake numbers. They kill themselves and then the body is holding on to every last calorie, trying not to starve and unable to build any pretty muscles.

I have big muscles and I like to flex in the mirror and eat red meat. I will not run to catch a bus – ever and I prefer to keep my rep range under 10.

You need to do some cardio, Beefcake. You will not shrink just because you included two 20 minute sessions a week of incline treadmill walking. By lifting just very heavy weight, you will expose yourself to some serious muscular heart issues. If you don’t believe me, Google “bodybuilder heart attack rate.” In your late 40's and early 50's is when cardiac health starts to decline. Keep your life vibrant by adding something that gets you breathing hard, even if it's only jumping rope or doing burpees in between sets.

I just want to be all around fit and capable. I have always been long, lean and I have a pretty good endurance but I want to get stronger without packing on large amounts of muscle.

Strength endurance! My favorite! This body type is best suited for kettlebell workouts or workouts where you use weightlifting as a cardio workout. These are pretty intense but have great resulted for improving strength and overall health and capability. Kettlebell programs are great for the long and lean look, but do require some practice and skill. Also a good choice: crossfit. you can tailor to the longer, more endurance oriented workouts. Crossfit with give you some nice strength and mobility on that frame of yours. Don't fear the barbell: No body gets bulky and beefy on accident.

I would like to look good naked.

Again, just like the body transformation seekers, you need to do both. Do mostly weightlifting and then three or four times a week, add a 20 minute cardio session after you are done lifting.

I have been lifting weights and and happy with the results. I am having difficulty shedding the last bit of fat to achieve the muscle definition I want.

Add more cardio AFTER you lift your weights, or do some HIIT sessions within your weight lifting, like adding a set of box jumps or jump roping between sets. This will burn the deep energy stores – fat. If you are really looking for definition, you may want to take a hard look at your diet. In order to lose weight, you have to be in a caloric depletion. back to that famous weightlifting proverb: Abs are made in the kitchen. There is no other way around it.

In conclusion, a mix of both is the best answer for everybody. Depending on goals, one person may be doing more strength than cardio, or vise versa. For great results do both. Make sure you are work hard enough to feel good about what you are doing and get in the zone.

Don’t be afraid to push yourself. This will actually make your trip to the gym more enjoyable and you will see faster results.

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