Get Fit or Build Muscle?
Shedding Light on the Age-old Debate
Aerobic exercise versus weights is a long-running question among newbies and pro fitness nuts alike. On the one hand, cardio is magic when it comes to burning calories, which leads to loss of fat. If weight-loss is your reason for working out, then it’s only natural to consider that aerobic workouts would be your go-to solution. But every story has at least two sides, which is why body-building hulks are only too happy to skip cardio and head straight for the weights. The truth of the matter – supported by science – is that your body needs a healthy balance of both cardio and weight training, whether you’re looking to burn fat or build muscle. It’s a combination that works best either way.
When to Build Muscle
Aerobic exercise burns more calories than weight training, but too much cardio could lead to significant loss in muscle mass. This means it’s always a good time to build muscle, especially lean muscle if you’re looking to lose weight but stay toned. Strength or resistance workouts as part of a gym fitness class are a great way to give your metabolism a boost and keep the fat peeling off without sacrificing your muscle mass.
When to Train Cardio
Cardio workouts help you sweat your way to health and fitness, and gyms that offer classes provide a fun and social solution to what could otherwise be a tiresome solo exercise. Weight- loss as a goal doesn’t really cut it when it comes to working out, because you can lose weight without any kind of exercise. That is why you should focus on shaping the body you have more so than losing bits of it. This will guide you to make healthier choices in terms of exercise, and will ultimately lead to achieving your initial weight-loss goal.
Cardio exercise can be high, moderate, or low-intensity and anyone can mix it up as they wish, to keep from growing bored with a rigid and monotonous exercise program. Another way to keep things exciting is to join group exercise classes at your local gym. Here you are given the attention of a seasoned instructor, as well as built-in motivation and social factors that come with training in a group. For instance, City Fit, or a spinning class like City Spin are ideal ways to get your cardio on in a group setting. Taking each of the classes will ensure you get enough cardio to burn those nasty calories, and enough strength training to keep you looking lean and toned. You will have access to professional instruction that will help you perfect your form so that you can benefit more fully from training, as well as the convenience of a pay-as- you-gym system, that relieves the pressure of contractual obligations and puts the fun back into working out.
The Best of Both Worlds
Since the argument has been made for a happy balance between cardio and strength training, let’s look at why this is:
- Cardio exercise is a great way to lose fat faster, but it’s also a good method to losing important muscle tone. And there’s no point to losing weight if you can’t rock the look with toned, lean muscle, right? Enter the weights. Not all weight training will leave you looking like a body- builder, if that’s what you’re worried about. There are ways to use weights and other kinds of strength exercises that will sculpt your body in the way you want, in all the areas you want. For those who don’t have a clue of where to start, we’re happy to break it down even more. But it’s a good option to look at gym workout classes, where there will usually be a combination of the two types of training on offer. In this way you can exercise under the guidance of an instructor, with the added benefit of doing it in a group of like-minded people.
- And if you need to know now – the best way to combine the two is to start with strength training first. This is because a cardio session is likely to tire you out, making it difficult to follow up with a quality strength exercise session. The other reason, is that once you start losing muscle mass, your body’s first inclination will be to add more muscle. This means you’re likely to gain weight instead of lose. It’s best to work with what you have from the start – tone the muscle you’ve got and then go on to burn calories and peel off the fat. A good way of striking a balance – if fitting in both strength and cardio in one session seems too much – is to alternate your workout days. Spend two days a week on weights or strength exercise, and every other day on cardio. Group fitness classes are designed to be short enough to adapt to your schedule, but long enough to make an impact on your health and fitness, so signing up would be a great way to get the desired result without upending your lifestyle. Which also makes sticking to a routine of regular, consistent exercise so much easier.