Studies have shown that one of the major contributors to the rampant prevalence of metabolic syndrome diseases such as diabetes and obesity is the modern pandemic of sedentarism. That is to say, modern humans are on average, lazy when it comes to physical activity.
The conveniences, amenities, and trappings of modern industrial society mean out resources and comforts are more likely to come to us than we are to go after them. Food is now premade, pre-processed and delivered, labor and entertainment are now centralized digitally or through automated means, transport and travel are almost completely mechanized.
Because of this, the biomechanical machine known a the human body is seeing less and less use, leading to the decline of functional quality which is having a negative health impact. So being the ingenious beings we are, we designed exercise as a way to stimulate the natural physical stressors meant to keep our bodies in tip-top shape.
Exercise, however, cardio vs weight training for weight loss is more than a matter of moving or lifting. Different methods produce different outcomes. Two distinct forms of exercise are resistance training and aerobic training, known to the layman as weights and cardio. Both are good and useful in optimizing health, but which one is better?
To learn this, we need to discover what each method brings to the table.
Resistance training involves muscular contractions against a force opposing the direction and angle of contraction about a joint system axis.
There are 3 main forms of resistance contractions.
Concentric, where your muscles overcome the force acting against them, resulting in the muscle shortening and flexing. Think of the upward phase of a bicep curl.
Eccentric, where the muscle allows the resistant force to overcome its force output, resulting in muscle extension and stretching. Think of the downward phase of a bicep curl.
Isometric, where the resistance force and your muscular force output are equal, meaning the muscle or muscles involved don’t change length or position. Think of holding the plank position. During this form of training, your muscles experience metabolic and mechanical stress.
Metabolic stress happens when the energy output exceeds the amount of energy that can be produced with available oxygen stores. This creates oxygen debt and is known as anaerobic training. Mechanical stress is due to the physical force being applied to your muscles and skeleton.
Special sensory receptors in bone, connective tissue, muscle tissue, and nerves respond to the physical stress and trauma experienced during resistance training and trigger a series of events that provide support and adaptation to this new level of exertion. This is how muscles and bones grow and become stronger, with more endurance to the mix.
Anaerobic Training Effect
As for the metabolic component, the training effect here is that your energy output increases, leading to a quicker metabolism, which leads to an increased rate of fat burning and muscle building from anabolic reactions. Resistance training is, therefore, an awesome weight loss and muscle gain protocol.
Other benefits include:
- Increased muscular endurance
- Improved range of motion
- Decreased risk of injury
- Increased strength
As we’ve discussed, resistance training generally involves working against challenging forces in order to produce a state of metabolic and mechanical stress. Aerobic training works differently in some respects. Firstly, unlike resistance training, which is anaerobic, cardio training allows for adequate oxygen supply.
This efficient use of oxygen means your heart is the main focus as it is now tasked with circulating it to the muscles in need. This places less metabolic strain and usually a lower mechanical strain per unit of time.
However, because of your heart’s activity, you are effectively conditioning your circulatory system for more optimized performance.
The benefits of an optimal cardiovascular function include:
- Increased lung capacity
- Improved heart function and health
- Decreased risk of hypertension
- Improved circulation, nutrient delivery, and waste removal
- Improved metabolic activity
- Increased cardiac endurance or VO2 max
Cardio training as it turns out is not just great for functional performance, it has direct benefits towards major disease prevention.
So now that we’ve looked at both, which is better?
Conclusion, Aerobic vs Anaerobic?
Well, here’s the thing, right away we’re going to say that both are essential, as you can see, both have desirable benefits, cardio vs weight training for weight loss and both ultimately serve as healthy physical exercise when done correctly.
The question of which is better becomes one of context and individuality. Context such as what is the intended outcome?. If you are a professional bodybuilder, for example, resistance and weights are far better for you than a heavy steady-state cardio regimen.
Lots of cardio generally works against the ability to gain muscle due to the catabolic effect. The opposite will be true if you’re a pro marathon runner for example. Which one is better also depends on your individual needs.
You might want to lose weight, so in that case, training in an anaerobic state will be more beneficial than low-intensity cardio. If on the other hand, you want to improve your circulation and biomechanical endurance ( VO2 max), you might consider more cardio.
For most people, a balanced combination of both is the best way to exercise. Always check first with a health care and fitness professional which methods of training you should implement in order to remain safe and get the best possible results.
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