Cardio or resistance? Creating the best workout schedule for cardio and muscle gains

When we visit gyms, we often encounter trainers who have differing opinions on the best training programs. Each trainer has their own reasoning, depending on the specific exercise goals. Some individuals prefer aerobic exercises like running and jumping, focusing on weight loss and strengthening the heart muscles. On the other hand, there are those who prioritize resistance exercises, such as weightlifting, push-ups, and squats. However, is it possible to combine the benefits of both without any drawbacks?

Which is better: cardio or weights?

Cardiovascular diseases are a leading global cause of mortality, claiming the lives of over 4 out of every 5 individuals. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 17.9 million people worldwide succumb to heart disease annually. This staggering statistic underscores the urgent need for enhanced awareness and proactive measures to combat this pervasive health issue.

The World Heart Report, unveiled at the World Heart Summit 2023, revealed a significant surge in global deaths attributed to cardiovascular diseases over the past three decades. The number of fatalities rose from 12.1 million in 1990 to a staggering 20.5 million in 2021.

The great news is that by engaging in just 150 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise per week, such as swimming, running, or jumping, you can prevent around 80% of heart attacks and early strokes. Alternatively, you can achieve the same benefits by dedicating 5 hours to simple exercises like walking. These recommendations come straight from the American Heart Association. Stay active and safeguard your heart!

This solution offers a simple and foolproof way for individuals of all ages to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of muscle mass in order to achieve optimal physical shape and minimize joint pain as we age.

The best solution

Until last January, there was no definitive answer to this question. However, researchers at Iowa State University conducted one of the longest and largest supervised exercise trials to discover the most effective exercise program.

The study involved 406 participants, ranging in age from 35 to 70 years. All of them had obesity and high blood pressure, putting them at a higher risk of heart disease.

The experiment spanned a year, during which the participants were divided into four groups. The first group refrained from exercising, while the second focused solely on aerobic exercises. The third group solely performed resistance exercises, and the final group engaged in a combination of aerobic and resistance exercises.

The study findings revealed that allocating 150 minutes per week to a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance training can significantly decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, comparable to engaging in aerobic exercise alone. Conversely, solely performing resistance exercises did not yield any cardiovascular benefits when comparing this group to the previous one.

What is the best exercise schedule?

To optimize your exercise routine, it’s important to incorporate both cardio and strength exercises. The beauty of it is that you don’t need extra time to reap the benefits. However, keep in mind these helpful tips:

Change the order of your exercises

The benefits of cardiovascular and resistance exercises can be maximized by either performing them separately in different sessions or by incorporating both into a single session.

According to a report on the Prevention health website, fitness experts have provided guidance on how to effectively integrate both cardio and strength training in a single session, twice a week. To begin, dedicate the first day to cardio exercises for thirty minutes, followed by strength exercises. In the subsequent session, simply alternate the order. This approach ensures a well-rounded and balanced workout routine.

To maximize your workout results, consider rearranging the order of your exercises at least once a week. If your main objective is to strengthen your heart or build muscle mass, prioritize exercises that align with that goal. This way, you can ensure optimal efficiency during your subsequent training sessions.

How many minutes do you exercise per week?

According to the American Heart Association, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week is recommended for optimal cardiovascular health. Additionally, incorporating strength training exercises at least twice a week can further benefit overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

To effectively target your muscles during resistance exercises, it is important to specify the duration. For maintaining muscle strength, it is recommended to lift light weights for 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions. However, if your goal is to build bigger muscles, lifting heavier weights for 3 sets with fewer repetitions is more suitable.

How to avoid burnout?

If you’re lifting weights twice a week and don’t have the chance to target both your primary and secondary muscles in each session, you can focus on the upper body during one workout and the lower body in a separate session. Additionally, you can combine multiple muscles in a single group to maximize your training efficiency.

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