Cardio vs Weights

Which type of training do you prefer?

Cardio vs Weights

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 you wouldn’t dare mix! They say once you have pledged your allegiance to one side – there is no turning back… Before you read this article further, exercise your vote on the poll below and don’t forget to comment if you think the answer just isn’t that simple!



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 and improves your heart, lungs and circulatory system. 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, for it to become stronger it must be worked! 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 increasing efficiency, 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 fatigue as well and help manage stress. Higher intensity cardio workouts will increase the rate of various other processes in the body (metabolism). Along with speeding up your heart rate an increased metabolism means an easier time maintaining or losing your weight. Lower intensity cardio workouts will improve recovery ability as this will help to reduce your DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness). Essentially, after a hard work out – a light warm down will help bring more blood to the muscle tissue improving the repairing and rebuilding process.


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 and 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 and you risk losing muscle mass.


Weights training is a common type of strength training that utilises the force of gravity using free weights or weight machines. These exercises will enable muscles to be activated and ultimately gain in size and strength. Many individuals who exercise or 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 with these benefits can help reduce the risk of Osteoporosis – a condition that develops over time weakening bones and making them fragile. It can also help relieve pain from osteoarthritis - a condition that causes joints to become painful and stiff. This is the most common type of arthritis in the UK!

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, with shoulders back and spine straight. A stronger back and core along with increased spinal bone density will also 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 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 and increasing to assess your level. Once you have found your level, you can begin to push yourself with flawless technique (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 a new mother looking to get active again
  • You could be training for a marathon

We can go on and on! The point is, this personal reason will sway your argument on Cardio v Weights. 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 Weights or Cardio? Or both!