Weights vs Cardio

At the gym, you’ve got the cardio area and the weights area and they are usually pretty consistently segregated. Girls flock to the treadmill. Boys hang out at the bench press.

There is good reason to do both in a balanced way.

Here are three comparisons and three takeaways.


Your heart is a muscle. Cardio, i.e. cardiovascular training, is like lifting weights for your heart. Super important for regulating things like blood pressure, and a useful tool for losing weight. HOWEVER, if you’re only doing cardio, it’s like you’re only training one muscle in your body. And as I have mentioned before: we need strong muscles for good posture and to keep our bones and joints as healthy as possible.

Calorie Burn:

Cardio Burns calories. Weight lifting burns calories. The caloric burn stops, pretty much the moment you step off the treadmill. If you are training your muscles, you will actually see an ROI for the time you spent lifting. What I mean is that strong muscles burn more calories AT REST than body fat. And life is more fun when you aren’t “dieting” all the time, right?

Tissue Quality:

Everyone says, “I wanna lose weight.” That may be true. But you DON”T want to lose muscle. Especially as we get closer to that “goal weight,” and find ourselves in a plateau, we might be tempted to turn up that cardio and burn more calories. Here’s the thing, you have no control over what your body is going to use for energy, and many times, if the calorie deficit is big enough, you end up losing muscle mass instead of fat. Hell no. Even if you do burn fat, there is no way to know if you’re burning body fat (the fat on your body) or nutritional fat (the fat from your food). Lifting Weights helps to preserve muscle, thus burning more calories at rest. The best part is that’s the period of time you're most likely to be burn body fat anyway! Yup, netflix and chill is PRIME body fat burning time. Your workouts are when your body uses the glycogen store in your blood as fuel. At least, ideally. And that’s a whole other conversation.

The Takeaways:

Be Present:

Yes, it’s possible to execute poor form on the elliptical. The most common atrocity I see is knees caving in toward the centerline of the body when they bend. Next time you’re on the elliptical, look down to see if your knees point straight ahead or if they cross paths.

Best of Both Worlds:

Circuit Training is the method of lining up 4 or 5 different exercises and performing all reps of each exercise in a row as one set. This is frequently done as a total body workout, including components for legs, core, a push(like a push up) and a pull(cable row). This type of workout will, obviously, cultivate muscle development, but it will ALSO raise your heart rate quite a bit because you are moving non-stop.

Do It Now:

Don’t wait to reach your goal weight to start lifting weights. It’s not an efficient use of your time. I spoke about the ROI of lifting, whereas cardio is simply trading time for calories burnt. Sometimes, you might find your goal weight is never reached but your goal measurements are. Muscle is denser than fat, so 2 people of the same weight and same height but different body fat percentages are going to wear different size clothes. So don't lose your mind trying to achieve proper BMI. Look for changes in your body fat percentage instead.

Go Forth and be a #strongwoman

Elizabeth Romsloe