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Both cardio and strength training are excellent ways to workout your body and achieve your fitness goals. But before you start to plan your workout routine, it is important to identify your precise aim, as cardio and strength training workouts target different areas of the body and provide contrasting results.
To help you decipher which type of workout is best for you, let's talk about the various benefits of both cardio and strength training.
If you are looking to adjust your body composition, cardio will be beneficial in helping to break down excess body fat. Common cardio workouts include swimming, running, walking, jumping rope, dancing and cycling. The main factor that defines a workout as cardio is that it raises your heart rate. Cardiovascular fitness is associated with several health benefits including improved heart health, fat loss and regulated appetite and blood pressure. An added plus side of cardio is that many cardio workouts—such as running—are free of cost and involve little or no equipment.
Strength training, on the other hand, includes lifting weights, circuit training, and any high intensity movement that works the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms). These workouts help build, maintain and define muscle mass. In addition, strength training helps to boost your metabolism, protects your bones, alleviates stress and supports deep sleep. You can read more about the benefits of strength training here.
So, which is best for you, cardio or strength training? The answer really depends on your individual fitness goal.
While cardio will help you to lose weight and improve your cardiovascular health, strength training will help you to build and maintain lean muscle. Combining both cardio and strength training exercises into your weekly workout routine is the best way to diversify your workouts, achieve your ideal body composition and build muscle.
If you are new or uncomfortable with cardio, try going on a walk, run or hopping into the pool—if you are lucky enough to be quarantining with one—sometime this week. Observe how you are feeling during your workout, and notice your progress.
If you are already well versed in cardio, try out the strength training routine below designed by AstroFlav for individuals participating in our Transformation Challenge.
1. Renegade Rows: 3 sets 10-12 reps
Get into a push up position with a dumbbell in each hand. Brace your body then raise one of the dumbbells towards your hip and squeeze your lats. Then slowly lower the weight back down. Complete all reps on one side or you can alternate arms.
2. Swimmers: 3 sets 15-20 reps
Lay face down on the floor, reach arms out in front of you with palms on the floor. Engage your back, abs, and glutes then lift the opposite arm and leg (example: right arm and left leg) off the ground at the same time, then lower and repeat on the opposite side. That's 1 rep.
3. In and Out Curls: 3 sets 15 reps
Holding a pair of dumbbells, you're going to curl the dumbbells in 2 different directions. The first is a normal bicep curl, the 2nd direction is at a wide form. 1 normal curl and 1 wide curl is 1 rep. Remember to keep your elbows tucked.
4. Bent Over Underhand Rows: 3 sets 12-15 reps
Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Bend forward from your hips to lower your chest toward the floor, arms hanging directly from your shoulders and palms facing toward the ceiling. Brace your core, then pull the dumbbells toward your rib cage, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Then slowly lower back to the starting position.
5. Dumbbell Pullovers: 3 sets 10-15 reps
Lie down and reach back to grab the top of your dumbbell, preferably a slightly heavier one. Hold the one dumbbell in both hands at its end with an overhand grip. Pull the dumbbell over your head and down until your arms are at about 45 degrees to your body. Bring the dumbbell back over and down behind your head. Keep your arms straight (only a slight bend in the elbows) throughout.
6. Alternating Dumbbell Curls: 3 sets 12-15 reps
Same as a regular bicep curl, the only difference is you’ll be alternating arms.
7. Dumbbell Hammer Curls: 3 sets 12-15 reps
Grab your 10lb dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent with your core tight. Palms should be facing toward each other and perform the curls in that direction keeping your palms facing toward each other the entire time.
8. Back Extensions: 3 sets 15-20 reps
Lie face down on the floor with hands behind your head, elbows wide. Keep your feet on the floor and be sure to engage your glutes and core to support your lower back. Then squeeze your back and lift your head and chest up away from the floor and hold this top position for a few seconds. Keep your chin slightly tucked and look down at the floor in front of you.
Questions, comments or concerns? Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear how you implement cardio and/or strength training into your fitness routine!