Recently I was watching a popular medical advice TV show when two audience members asked if they should do cardio or strength training in order to achieve optimal fitness results. Cardio OR strength training. I expected the show’s hosts to explain why a workout consisting of cardio AND strength training is important. Nope. They chose strength training as the superior training method. What?!
True, if I had to choose between one or the other I would agree that strength training is superior to cardio training for weight loss and practicality. Strict cardio training would melt away not only fat but also useful, fat-annihilating muscle and we use muscle more in our everyday lives than we do cardiovascular endurance. You may need to lift things at home or work, but you probably won’t need to out endure anything in day to day life. But fortunately for us, we are not limited to one type of training over another. We get the best benefits by using both cardio and strength training together.
As a personal trainer I must find ways to maximize the effectiveness of one-hour workouts. If my clients did only cardio training or only strength training, their results would be predictably incomplete. I have found that both types of training must be used in order to reach your fitness goals.
When I plan a workout for my clients, I prefer to use exercises that include both strength training and cardio training simultaneously. The kettlebell is in my opinion the single most effective tool to achieve this. For example, the kettlebell swing will work the legs, arms, back, and core while simultaneously increasing your heart to levels that resemble sprinting. And that is just one exercise.
When you are planning your own workouts you will get the most for your time by combining complimentary exercises into a circuit. An example would be to do 20 kettlebell swings followed by 10 push-ups, 30 seconds of jumping rope, and finishing with 10 inverted rows. That would be one circuit. Try to do five. During this circuit you would have worked the major muscle groups of your legs, arms, back, and core, and I promise that your heart will be screaming at the end of it. That is how you combine cardio and muscle strengthening exercises into one fat-burning, athlete building workout. So to answer those audience members, do both.
Josh Cormier is a Certified Personal Trainer and owner of North Atlantic Personal Training. Visit www.NorthAtlanticPT.com for more information or if you have any questions.