I’ve been on both sides of the fence. As a runner, I would spend months without weightlifting or targeted strength training because who has the time? And in my younger life as a lifter, I joked about how 10+ reps of cardio are, hoorhhhhhh. But here’s the truth: we all need weight training and real cardio.
I think it’s easy to focus on one type of exercise because we find it fun or comfortable. Then when we feel challenged enough, don’t look any further, do we? I am already an athleteI remember thinking in both extreme phases. But both times I was missing something.
What strength training means to you
Most obviously, weight training makes you stronger. This means that you will be better able to lift weights, but also that you will build up the reserves of strength to do better in other sports ̵
Strength training can mean lifting weights, but so can other types of strength training. It’s called “resistance” because you are literally pushing against some kind of force. Perhaps you are working with dumbbells or resistance bands, or you are creating a force to resist with your own body, such as doing pushups or squats.
Our lean muscle mass decreases with age, but the more muscle you start, the better you will be. (There is no such thing as “too old” training, and the older you are, the more important it is.) Muscle loss, called sarcopenia, contributes to the likelihood of falls and fractures. Exercise slows down and can potentially reverse this loss.
Weight training also helps bone health and joint flexibility. People who exercise strength also tend to have better balance and may find it easier to control their weight.
What cardio does for you
Cardiovascular training includes steady-state endurance sports such as jogging and interval training, where you work hard and have rest periods. Ideally, you should do both as they each have slightly different benefits.
Cardio exercise is good for your heart health, as the name suggests. Regular cardio will help lower your blood pressure, lower your “bad” cholesterol, and raise your “good” cholesterol. It can help you maintain a healthy weight as burning more calories gives you a little more wiggle room for any extra calories that you may want to consume. Both cardio and strength training increase your insulin sensitivity, which is especially important if you have type 2 diabetes or are considered to be prediabetic.
In addition to these benefits, it also helps with the other activities that you do. With better cardio fitness, you can recover faster between heavy lifting exercises, and make it easier for you to do everyday physical activities like gardening. You can also have more fun doing physical activities for fun, such as exercising. Take a hike or take a walk through a new city while traveling.
How much is enough
Many of the benefits of cardio and strength training are reciprocal, and there are definitely activities that combine the two. (For example, if you’re doing crossfit or strongman training, most of your basics may be covered.) For simplicity, the physical activity guidelines for Americans break down the two different types.
The guidelines recommend at least 20 to 30 minutes of weight training twice a week. (For most beginner exercise programs, you exercise three times a week, which is fine, too.) These sessions should work all of your muscles. So if you prefer to split your workout into upper body and lower body days, make sure you do two of each.
Once you get used to weight training, you may want to do more – which is great as long as you work on it gradually. While you can make one-off videos or create a routine out of exercises you like, you will be better off in the long run with a program that gives you the opportunity to progress as you get stronger. There are some great listings of programs under the r / fitness and r / bodyweightfitness subreddits if you want a few to choose from.
How to combine lifting and running
If you’re a runner, being strong helps. If you’re lifting weights, doing a little cardio is still good. But sometimes you just want to be good at two things at the same time. Can you walk and lift at the same time? Yes i did it …
For cardiovascular exercise, a minimum of 150 minutes of light exercise such as walking or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise is recommended. So if you take a 30-minute walk at lunchtime every weekday, you are meeting the guidelines. If you use that time to run instead, you will exceed the guidelines within three sessions. While the guidelines use practice minutes, researchers have calculated that 7,000 to 9,000 steps will get you to the correct ballpark if you prefer step counting.
Again, more is better as long as you work on it over time. I started taking an evening stroll into my routine this summer, and as the weather cooled off, I took a midday stroll and an evening stroll. Then I gradually replaced some of the evening walks with run / walk sessions and finally ran. I feel like my workouts are going better than they were before, but I’m also happy to know that I am preparing for better health in the long run than if I just stuck to one type of exercise.