Cardio VS Strength Training

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Last Updated On :
  • 23/01/2024

Individuals on weight loss journeys often tussle with cardio vs strength training for fat loss. It can be hard to decide which is better for your lifestyle. In the weight loss debate, some insist cardio is the key to burning fat, while others argue that strength training is more effective. Both have their benefits and differences, so it is up to you to determine which suits your body best.

While cardio activities include sprinting, swimming, hiking and biking, strength training incorporates workouts with resistance bands, free weights, etc.

Cardio Workout Meaning

Cardio refers to a form of exercise that involves rhythmic activities designed to elevate the heart rate and enhance cardiovascular health. It leads to a loss of fats and calories.

Unlike strength training, cardio relies on your body's oxygen utilisation during exercises. The more you weigh, the more calories you burn.

Generally, cardio burns more calories per session than weight training with a similar effort. The calorie burn depends on your body size and exercise intensity.

What is Strength Training?

Strength training meaning refers to resistance training that involves muscles working against external resistance, such as weights or force, to increase overall muscle strength. It eventually enhances your metabolism, although the changes may not be significant.

Moreover, weight training usually proves more effective than cardio in boosting the post-workout calorie burn.

According to the American Heart Association, optimal benefits of strength training are achieved with 30-minute sessions two days a week. However, if you intend to lose weight with strength training, you should incorporate at least three to four sessions weekly for visible results.

Difference between Cardio and Strength Training

When evaluating cardio exercise vs strength training, the common factor is that both exercise forms target improved fitness conditions for youths and older adults. However, how these exercise forms approach fitness differs from one another.

Here is a table to help you understand the difference between cardio and strength training.

Parameters Cardio Strength Training
Weight loss For people intending to lose excessive fat, cardio is a beneficial choice. It decreases body fat at a quicker pace and ensures faster results. Strength training aids in fat loss by promoting the growth of muscle tissue. As a result, individuals with increased muscle mass experience a higher metabolic rate.
Diet If you regularly engage in cardio exercises, you must encourage the consumption of whole, unprocessed foods. Try and stay away from processed and fatty foods. If you practice strength training regularly, consume a combination of carbohydrates and protein within two hours after your workout. This will help in muscle recovery.
Muscle building Cardio exercises are primarily designed for individuals aiming for weight loss. Regardless, consistent cardio workouts can also have positive impacts on the muscle-building process. Research shows that strength training is highly effective for preserving muscle mass regardless of age.
Burning calories Many individuals prefer engaging in cardio exercises because they effectively burn calories. The amount of calories burned is dependent on one's body weight. The higher the weight, the higher the amount of calories burnt. Strength training overall burns a higher number of calories. Moreover, your body keeps burning calories even after you finish a strength training session.
Heart health Cardio is a form of aerobic exercise that elevates our heart rate. This demands increased oxygen consumption, which enhances lung capacity and strengthens the heart muscles. Strength training does not specifically affect your heart health.

Strength Training vs Cardio - Which One is Better?

After carefully comparing cardio exercise with strength training, you can now make an informed decision based on your fitness goals. Consider your current physical condition to determine which approach suits you best.

Cardio is beneficial if you aim to burn fat, as it efficiently burns calories in a shorter duration.

On the contrary, if your fitness goal is to build on muscle strength, strength training would be the ideal choice.

Benefits of Cardio Exercise

One of the most significant benefits of cardio exercise is improving heart health. During cardio exercises, the raised heart rate promotes better heart function, reducing the risk of cardiovascular issues.

Cardio exercises burn extra calories and are a great choice for those intending weight loss in a shorter duration. As per studies, an individual running at a 1 mile/10-minute pace is likely to burn 372 calories.

Cardio exercises are easy to perform, and one can start without any professional guidance. In addition, you do not necessarily require a setup or equipment to perform cardio.

Cardio improves immunity and brain health while decreasing the chances of cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart attacks.

Participating in weight-bearing cardio activities, like trekking or hiking, can enhance bone density.

Cardio improves your sleep quality while decreasing depression and stress. It promises a healthy mind and body.

Benefits of Strength Training

Strength training helps increase bone density by putting stress on the bones, reducing osteoporosis risk.

It betters your metabolism and helps you lose weight by burning calories.

It protects your joints from injuries by increasing your ability to indulge in regular activities.

Engaging in regular strength training workouts can relieve symptoms associated with various chronic diseases, including obesity, arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes.

Regular participation in strength training can contribute to improved brain health. Studies on aged adults have indicated that strength training enhances cognitive functions, including processing pace and memory.

Should one Indulge in Strength Training and Cardio?

A fair share of cardio and strength training is essential for a fit and disease-free body. Cardio and strength training come with their own set of advantages and drawbacks. Each form has its particular goals and results. But with a time crunch, including both workout formats in your schedule can be challenging.

If you intend to lose weight as an end goal, you should pick cardio as your means. Cardio should also be your priority if your goal is to enhance endurance. However, it also depends on your body as to which form of exercise suits your requirements.

Regardless, irrespective of what you do, regularly exercising is non-negotiable.

How Often Should One Engage in Strength Training and Cardio Exercises Per Week?

Creating an effective workout routine depends on individual goals. Before choosing between cardio and strength training, setting clear fitness goals is crucial.

If aiming for both strength and cardiovascular fitness, a recommended approach is two days of cardio followed by three days of strength training. You can adjust as per your specific goals.

To improve endurance, you can cut down on strength training days.

For optimal muscle growth, focus on each muscle group two or three times a week, allowing at least 48 hours of rest between sessions.

Additionally, consider a balanced diet to complement your fitness routine.


Including some form of exercise in your daily routine, whether cardio or strength training, is essential. In today's busy life, people of all ages, including the youth, middle-aged, and adults, should have real fitness goals. Everyone needs to engage in regular workouts that fit their preferences to lead a healthy lifestyle.

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Can I do a mixed strength training and cardio workout?

No rule bars you from performing strength training and cardio on the same day. However, it can be most beneficial if you perform the two forms of workout on different days. This will give your body ample resting time.

Which is more difficult - cardio or strength training?

Strength training needs more power than cardio. On the contrary, cardio requires lesser power but needs long duration movement.

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