Cardio vs Weights

Which type of training do you prefer?

Cardio vs weights training is an age-old argument that divides the gym even to this very day. In your average gym you have one side full of weights, one side full of cardio machines, and many people wouldn’t dare mix!

We’ve put some information below to help you decide which one is best for you. Who knows, maybe you’ll even combine the two…


People tend to think of cardio in terms of a steady state aerobic exercise, like swimming or jogging. But really, cardio is anything that raises your heart and breathing rates. Cardio can also move into anaerobic territory when performing workouts involving high intensity interval training (HIIT).


There are significant and unique benefits with cardio exercise – the main benefit being improved heart health. As your heart is a muscle like any other, it must be worked to become stronger! The heart can weaken over time and cause a variety of negative health effects like heart disease and diabetes. By getting the heart pumping at a faster rate on a regular basis, your blood pressure will lower, meaning less work for your heart and body. Cardio also helps manage diabetes as well as preventing it. By performing cardio exercise, you will increase your muscle’s ability to utilise glucose and therefore have better control of your blood sugars.

More benefits include improved hormone profile, metabolism, and recovery ability. Performing cardio releases “feel good” hormones that will help ease symptoms of depression and manage stress. Higher intensity cardio workouts also increase the rate of various other processes in the body, such as metabolism. Lower intensity cardio workouts will improve recovery ability, which will help to reduce your DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).


There are some drawbacks when considering cardio exercise. There’s a fine line between training well and over-training. Over-training can leave you physically and mentally exhausted - everyone has their own limits. Whether you’re training for an event or for a specific goal, the body is supposed to be pushed but also needs time to rest and repair. Another drawback is muscle loss. Without adequate fuel, your body eventually turns to muscle as a fuel source, which can put you at risk of losing muscle mass.


Weights training is a common type of strength training using free weights or weight machines. Exercises using weights or machines will enable muscles to be activated and ultimately gain in size and strength. Many individuals who exercise or who are new to the fitness world feel strength training is only associated with more experienced athletes. This couldn't be further from the truth!


Weights training also has significant benefits – not only does weights training strengthen your muscles but it strengthens your bones, joints, tendons and ligaments! Strong bones will reduce the risk of fractures and strong connective tissues will reduce injuries from daily tasks and routine exercise. Weights training can also help relieve pain from osteoarthritis – the most common type of arthritis in the UK - a condition that causes joints to become painful and stiff. Joe Bastin, Personal Trainer at Andover Leisure Centre and Amateur British Powerlifting champion, says: “Training with weights really is for everyone, no matter what your age, gender or ability. Sometimes it can feel daunting heading for the weights area in the gym, but I find, once clients learn the basics and start to see the results, any reservations are quickly overcome.”

Weights training will also improve posture and reduce back pain. Strengthening your back, shoulders, and core will help to correct bad posture so that you can stand taller, prevent lower back pain, and help create a strong and healthy spine.


The main drawback to weights training is the safety concern, especially if you are new to this type of training. It’s important to always have a supporter or a ‘spotter’ with you just in case an incident occurs. Using heavy weights when you are not ready can cause significant damage by pulling or tearing your muscles. You can reduce this risk by firstly, understanding proper technique, and secondly, starting with lighter weights. Once you have found your level, you can begin to push yourself (as advised by your local PT) to reduce the risk of injury.

Everyone trains for a different reason

· You could be a rugby player looking to increase your power to improve your game

· You be looking forwards to a summer holiday and you want to look in better shape

· You could be a recovering from an injury

· You could be training for a marathon

We can go on and on! Both have their unique benefits and drawbacks which are important to understand when choosing a training plan. You may also feature a mixture of both Cardio and weights training that’s tailored to your own personal goals.

So…for you, is it cardio or weights? Or both!

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