Cardio vs weights. A controversial subject indeed, and one which my opinion has changed on significantly over time.
When I first got into fitness years ago, I gravitated towards lifting weights and focusing on getting stronger. I became absorbed in the online fitness community and the #fitstagrammers in particular. I started following a whole host of people who were into lifting weights, in particular a lot of bodybuilders, to keep up my motivation. I noticed that they all seemed to hate cardio, claiming “cardio is hardio” or “you can't flex cardio”. As someone who was new to health and fitness, I found myself adopting this mindset as my own. I have to admit, it seemed like the “cool” thing to believe. Everyone looked down on cardio bunnies, and if you dared to post about going on a run everyone would question whether what your motives were. Honestly, I just blindly followed this “cardio-bashing” trend and I am ashamed to say… I bashed cardio too.
But you know what? I've changed my mind. I have become a qualified fitness professional, been working in the industry and spent time reading the latest research in the field. I have opened my mind to new ways of thinking and I have stopped basing my opinions on what online personalities promote. I have tried and tested different forms of training and I have pushed my body in new ways. I have formulated my own perspectives based on evidence and experience.
Weights are great. I love them. I will always lift them. The benefits of lifting are undeniable and if you want to sculpt and tone your body, it is the most effective way to do so. Plus it increases your bone density, essential for women, and makes you feel strong and empowered. I recommend everyone incorporates it into their training regime in some form. However, I also love cardio. Yep, I love it. (Well, certain forms of it anyway!). And guess what, it can be fun, it can be enjoyable and it isn’t going to make you “lose all your gains”. I find that HIIT classes like F45 give me a buzz which nothing else does. Cardio and resistance training are both essential for health, and it feels amazing to get fitter and faster as well as stronger. Sure in the past when all I did was lift I was stronger than I am now, but I wasn’t functional. I couldn't run, I couldn’t jump high, I wasn't agile, fast or powerful. By finding my own personal balance of cardiovascular training and weights, I feel incredible and the most functionally fit I have ever been.
So what can we learn from my mistakes? Don't blindly believe what you read online. Don't base your own opinions on those you follow on social media. Analyse research, broaden your knowledge base and formulate your own perspectives. Don't be afraid to try different forms of exercise until you find the combination which works for you, and don't be ashamed of how you train or what you enjoy. Cardio isn’t the devil. Weights aren’t the be all and end all. There is no single right way to exercise. Do what you love, challenge your body in new ways and find your personal balance when it comes to training.
Let me know your thoughts on the cardio vs weights debate in the comments below, let's get a discussion going!