Cardio vs weight training: When to lift and when to just run

It’s important to understand that strength training alone does not build muscle, you have to feed your body nutrition-rich food to support muscle building otherwise the whole process is counterproductive.
Get a structured nutrition plan to optimize your workouts.
Get a structured nutrition plan to optimize your workouts.

CHENNAI: This is a subject I have really wanted to address as I find a lot of confusion and misconceptions around how to manage workouts that include lifting weights, and how much is too much.

Benefits of weight training

Women over the age of 40 have a rapid decline in bone density leading to osteopenia and osteoporosis. Add to this, the inherent issue that Indian women have lower bone density than women of other origins. However, this can be combated with weight-training as various studies show that women who regularly weight train face a significantly lower risk of osteoporosis-related issues than the ones who don’t.

So it’s safe to say that weight training and building strong muscles should be on everyone’s agenda.

How much to lift?

Targeting weight training 3 times a week for 30 - 40 mins can also do wonders for overall strength and stability. You need strong muscle to protect your bones and joints especially as you get older. It’s important to understand that strength training alone does not build muscle, you have to feed your body nutrition-rich food to support muscle building otherwise the whole process is counterproductive. Without the right fuel you are essentially burning your muscles, not building them. And this is probably the top reason for people to be spending hours in the gym and not seeing significant results.

Benefits of cardio

One of the questions I get asked a lot is, “Is cardio absolutely essential for overall health?”

The answer is not really - not high intensity cardio anyway, what is essential is movement. A non-sedentary lifestyle will render a lot more benefit than running miles and miles without a plan.

Cardio however is a great way of ensuring you are in a caloric deficit which will in turn result in quicker results when it comes to weight loss.

So use cardio as a tool to enhance your workout and diet but not as a punishment to kill your body.

How much to run?

The best way to optimize your cardio is by doing it in conjunction with a weight training program. Cardio twice a week is great, and it would be a good idea to include one HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session.

Another great way to ensure maximum calorie burn is to finish your strength sessions with 10 - 15 minutes of moderate cardio.

Top tips on food intake during a training program:

  • Have your protein shake pre and post workout- one gives you a boost the other helps with recovery

  • Eat your carbs - absolutely essential to eat your carbs in moderation. Stick to slow release carbs, so nothing is processed.

  • Eat your fats - good fats are essential to burn fat. So eat your nuts and seeds which are packed with good fats.

  • Dont starve yourself- instead make smarter choices. Keep healthy snacks around and always be prepared. Stock your pantry with healthy go-to snacks.

  • Get a structured nutrition plan to optimize your workouts. It’ll help you achieve your goals and manage your food in the best possible way

— Shitija aka Fit Chef is a certified nutritionist and health coach. IG @_fit_chef_ or email coachedbyfitchef@gmail.com

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