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Cardio vs. Strength Training for Weight Loss


Do you ever find yourself doing hours of cardio per week and getting no results? If so, you are not alone! It is a common misconception that cardio training is the key to weight loss. If you are spending all your gym time on the elliptical, you may be cutting yourself short. While cardio work is important and great for your health, many of us neglect another key aspect of wellness- strength training!

Aerobic exercise, or cardio, is great for your health as it improves circulation, prevents heart disease, and can lower blood pressure. Cardio can also create a calorie deficit that plays a large role in weight loss. While all of these benefits are wonderful, you can bring them to a whole new level when combined with strength training.

Increasing your muscle mass with strength training is a key component for weight loss. It will give you more muscle tone, improve your bone mass, give you better balance and prevent injury. Muscle mass improves your metabolism as it burns more calories throughout the day- even when not working out!

While strength training can seem intimidating at first, there are many ways to incorporate it into your workouts without hitting the heavy weights at the gym. In fact, there are many ways to strength train at home!

The different types of strength and resistance training include:

  • Traditional weight training: body weight, free-weights, resistance bands, gym-machine, home items (cans of food, bottles of water, etc)

  • Fat burn/circuit training: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Tabata

  • Intervals of cardio mixed in with resistance training

  • Core/Stability/Balance: Yoga, Pilates, stretching

A good way to combine cardio and strength training into your workout routine would be to aim for 30 minutes of cardio/3-5 days a week and 30 minutes of strength training/2-3 days a week.

Some simple resistance training exercises that you can do at home include:

Squats

With your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees as if you are sitting back into a chair. It is important to keep your chest up and not to let your knees go over your toes.

Chest Presses

Lay down with a weight in each hand with your hands at your shoulders. Press arms up vertically in front of you, ending with your hands shoulder-width apart.

Bicep Curls

Stand up straight with a weight in each hand with straight arms pointing down to the floor. Keeping your elbows at your sides, curl the weights up using your biceps while keeping your upper arms still.

Tricep Dips

Position your hands behind you shoulder-width apart on a stable, raised surface with your fingertips facing your body. Lower yourself a few inches using your triceps to stabilize yourself. Lift yourself back up.

Planks

Place your forearms on the ground with your elbows aligned below your shoulders. Keep your forearms straight and shoulder-width apart. Lift your body off the ground keeping a fat back. Be sure that you do not let yourself sink too low- try to keep your body as straight as possible.

Lunges

With your upper body straight, step forward with one leg. Lower your hips until both knees are at a 90° angle. Do not let your knee pass over your toes.

Wall Sits

Lean you back flat against the wall with your feet shoulder-width apart and about two feet out from the wall. Slide down the wall until your knees are about at a 90° angle. Hold your position and contract your abs.

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

330 Brookline Ave

Boston, MA 02215

wellpowered@bidmc.harvard.edu

Tel: 617-735-2518

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