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The cardio vs. strength training debate continues to rage on. But if your goal is to simply tone up, blast calories, or de-stress, we've got the winning training solution for you.
In one corner: Dumbbells. In the other: A treadmill. Who rules? When it comes to getting the body you want, the strength training bandwagon has rolled into town. Yet, cardio loyalists insist you need to keep on steppin’. To resolve the strength vs. cardio conundrum, we pooled research to find out how each would fare in a head-to-head match-up. Whether you want to tone up, blast calories, de-stress or improve your PB, the results are in…
TO BLAST FAT
Calorie for calorie, cardio has a slight advantage. You’ll burn eight to 10 calories a minute hoisting weights, compared with 10 to 12 calories a minute running or cycling.
BUT Lifting weights gives you a metabolic spike for an hour after a workout because your body is trying hard to help your muscles recover. That means you’ll fry an additional 25 per cent of the calories you just scorched during your strength session.
And there’s more good news when it comes to strengthening those muscles. For every three pounds of muscle you build, you’ll burn an extra 120 calories a day – just vegging around – because muscle takes more energy to sustain. Yes, please.
Winner – Strength training
TO BOOST BODY CONFIDENCE
Cardio Edge – Sports psychologists have been studying the effect of aerobic activity on self-confidence for decades. The conclusion? Runners, cyclists and swimmers have high confidence levels because of the sense of accomplishment they feel each time they cross the finish line – even when they bring up the rear.
Strength Edge – Think you look hot immediately after a workout? It’s not your imagination. Blood has rushed to your muscles, making them swell and appear more toned. Beyond vanity, you feel confident because you just pressed some major poundage. In 2006, researchers at McMaster University tested subjects’ body image – how they felt about others checking them out, and how satisfied they were with their own appearance before and after 12 weeks of strength training. The women’s satisfaction and comfort skyrocketed.
Winner – Strength training
TO SQUASH STRESS
Cardio is the answer if stress is the question. The head-clearing effects of a solid cardio workout start to shine in minutes. Just 15 minutes of aerobic activity two to three times a week can reduce anxiety significantly, according to a 2005 study in the European Journal of Sports Science. Go at it three to five days a week and you can cut fatigue by nearly 50 per cent. Love.
Winner – Cardio