As a personal trainer I am often asked the following questions: should I do more cardiovascular exercises or weight training? What amount of weight should I use? How many reps should I do? How fast should I run on the treadmill? These are excellent questions for faster results.
Cardio vs. Weight Training
There are two modes of exercise: cardiovascular (usually abbreviated to cardio) and weight lifting. Cardiovascular means “of, relating to, or involving the heart and blood vessels” and are exercises that temporary increase the heart rate. Cardio exercises can be low impact (where at least one foot remains in contact with the ground at all times) such as walking, hiking and rollerblading or high impact (where both feet leave the ground at the same time) such as jumping jacks, running and jumping rope.
Weight training, also known as strength training or resistance training, is a method of improving muscular strength by gradually increasing the ability to resist force through the use of free weights, machines, or a person’s own body weight. Increasing the resistance stimulates muscle development.
Which one should you pick? Both. Cardio helps with weight loss while strength training helps avoid weight gain. The more muscles you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Lifting weight also prevents osteoporosis.
How Many Repetitions and How Heavy
How many repetitions and with what amount of weight are correlated. Repetitions will depend on the amount of weight and your goals. If your goal is to tone up use lighter weights and more reps, but if your goal is to increase muscle size then go for higher weights and less reps. The appropriate amount of weights is one that will start relatively easy, but will become challenging by the last few reps. Let’s say I am using 10 lb dumbbells and I can easily do 10 to 15 reps of shoulder presses. So I decide to use 15 lb dumbbells but I can barely do 5 with proper form. Here I am better off using the 10lb for 20 reps, so that the last few reps are challenging. Once the 20 reps with 10 lb will become easy, I will then increase the weight to 15 lb and start with only 8 repetitions and work it up to 20 before moving it up again.
Intensity on the Cardio
Intensity is the amount of physical power and it is “how hard” you exercise. Intensity, not how long you exercise, will determine how many calories you will burn. A 20 min run at a high intensity is more conducive to weight loss than a 50 min run at a low speed. There is no set number on what is high and what is low intensity as that will depend on how fit you are. The more fit you become, the more intense your workout will have to be to yield results. With an example of the treadmill, a speed of 7.9 is pretty fast but not for someone that runs daily. For the daily runner to be challenged, the correct intensity might be running at 8 with regular sprints at 8.5 for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and muscle-strengthening activities 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups. It is easier than it sounds as a 10-minute brisk walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week will give you the total 150 minutes of cardio and you can strength train while watching TV.
About the Author
Aris Akavan, ACE certified Personal Trainer & Lifestyle and Weight Management Coach, is owner of Body Fitness by Aris. Her mission is to assist others in leading a healthier lifestyle by balancing exercise and proper eating habits to achieve the ultimate body & mind wellness. Aris leads by example as she practices what she preaches. She leads an alcohol free and smoke free lifestyle and has worked out while following proper nutrition practices for over 10 years. In the last few years she also started participating in 5k races, adventure runs and triathlons. You can visit Aris at any of her following: