Weights or cardio - which is better?

Are you all about pumping weights? Or maybe you prefer building a good sweat via some honest cardio work? In the gym, at home or at the park, they're all valid forms of self-improvement. Should you be favouring one over the other, though?

Weights versus cardio still perplexes many, so here's the who, what, where, why, when and how for a healthier you.

Do what you like, but also add a little bit of what you dislike.

Who? You and the person next to you, because every man and woman should be doing cardiovascular work along with elements of weight training. Whether your goal is weight loss or toning and reshaping, too many folks are getting their heart rates up while neglecting resistance exercises. Or those looking to build mass are spending too little time doing aerobic work.

What? This is your goal, and the choices are endless, as you might be training for a race, general fitness, weight loss, strength, hypertrophy, rehabilitation, etc. Just understand your 'what' so you can obtain a weights and cardio plan to complement your goal.

Where? Exercise in the gym, at the pool, on your bike, in your living room or backyard, or even in your hotel's stairwell.

Too many folks feel restricted if they don't have ready gym access. That's BS. You can run anywhere. You can skip rope anywhere. And you can do weight-bearing activities anywhere – even with your own body weight. If you're looking to compete in the CrossFit games or to add serious bulk, sure, you're going to need a gym. But for all other health and fitness goals, the world (and your body) is all the gym you need. There are hundreds of bodyweight exercises, many of which are perfect to raise the heart rate and build muscle at the same time.

Why? Hit the weights and get some cardio work in, because the body of that winning marathon runner is too thin, emaciated, and borderline unhealthy. Because the body of a muscular, massive chap who is still carrying an obese belly and huffs and puffs his way up the stairs is unhealthy.

Don't live in the extremes. Mix up the cardio exercise and weights, because a balanced individual is a healthy individual.

When? By exercising in the morning, you're getting your metabolism off to a grand start to burning more calories throughout the day. In the afternoon and evening, your mind and body are warm and in an ideal state to reap the benefits of exercise. So what's best?


Exercise when you have time, and more importantly do it when you have the physical and mental energy to sweat, swear and get in a quality session. Morning, noon, or night, the most important thing is not when, but simply that we do exercise.

Cardio before weights? Yes. You'll have more energy to lift, and reduce the risk of injury. Also, be open to doing both at the same time - CrossFit and circuit training styles that mix weight-bearing movements with increased heart rate are good for weight loss and tone.

How? First, recall your health and fitness goal from above. A female running a marathon will have a completely different fitness regime than a lean man looking to add bulk. Your goal determines your weights and cardio plan, but it should always involve spending some time moving weights, and should definitely be raising the heart rate.

Drop me an email at the address below, and I'll send you five circuit training sessions with minimal equipment that will test your heart, mind and body.

Science and opinions continue to lie on both sides of the fence on the cardio versus weights debate for weight loss, health and fitness gains, and the research changes annually.

My tip? Do what you like, but also add a little bit of what you dislike. Not keen on the weights? Get in there anyway, because you should build strength. Hate the treadmill? Toughen up, and get moving.

Ultimately, it's up to you to learn what your body responds to. It's up to you what type of body shape you prefer, then to find the right mix of cardio and weights that steers you towards your goal. Just make sure you're mixing it up while being safe and having a few laughs in between sessions.

What weights/cardio equation works for you?

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