Weight Training vs. Cardio: Which Offers the Most Benefit?

Through my teenage years and early twenties, I always made sure I got my cardio in 5-7 times per week. Whether it be an hour run outside or on a treadmill, I "knew" that was the only way for me to maintain my lean figure and burn calories. My motto used to be, if I'm not sweating profusely, I'm not working hard enough. I'd spend 30 minutes on weight machines, hitting at least one for every body part, just going through the motions, and called it a day.

I even started training for a marathon, which came to a screeching halt when I tore my MCL (knee ligament) in February of 2014. After recovering, I could barely run 2 miles without extreme pain. That's when I started really focusing on weight training and building muscle. I even decided to compete in bodybuilding competitions in 2015, which you can read about in my previous post " So you want to be a bikini competitor".

I was amazed by the changes that I saw in my body and the way I felt. I lost body fat in all my "problem" areas (triceps, hamstrings, quads, hips), increased my strength, had increased energy, improved my sleep and the list goes on. I still did cardio, but steadily decreased the amount until the point I'm at now where 20 minutes of steady state cardio 3-4x per week maintains my cardio endurance and doesn't put me in a catabolic state (muscle breakdown).

Now I know I'm going to have some skeptics that will say the body burns more calories with cardio, which is technically true. You will burn more calories while doing cardio, but not after the activity is complete (unless you're doing HIIT, but that's a topic for another post). Weight training burns less calories while doing the activity but ultimately allows you to burn more over time. This is due to the increase in muscle mass, which increases your resting metabolic rate. Your body will burn more at rest and utilize nutrients more efficiently.

Weight training also increases HGH (human growth hormone) which is our longevity hormone and regulates body fat and metabolism. AKA, more HGH = elevated metabolism, improved skin health, increased bone density and the list goes on.

And ladies, you will Not, I repeat, Not get "bulky" if you weight train, even with heavy weights. The female body does not produce enough testosterone to gain the muscle mass a male body can. To put it in perspective, women produce around 7% of the amount of testosterone that men do.

So, if you're a slave to cardio and aren't getting the results you want, try weight training. Consistency is key with anything, so I recommend finding a routine that works for you and sticking with it for 4 weeks. If you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done.

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