Weight Training vs Cardio Exercise

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Aerobic and strength training has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, making it a highly relevant topic in the fitness world.

Let's differentiate between weight training and cardio exercises to give you a better understanding of their unique benefits and explore the critical role that pulse rate plays during workouts, especially high-intensity ones.

Learn about the best way to combine cardio with weight training routines for optimal heart-healthy benefits.

Understanding the Difference Between Weight Training and Cardio

If you want to be fit, you need to do both weight training and cardio. But they're not the same thing.

To ensure a well-rounded exercise regimen, it is important to understand the distinction between weight training and cardio.

Weight Training

Weight training, also known as resistance or strength training, focuses on building muscle mass and strength.

You can use weights, bands, or your own body weight to challenge your muscles. The more you train, the stronger your muscles become.

Weight training is also beneficial for body composition and preventing excessive fat build-up in the chest (for men) and midsection (for women).

Excessive fat in the chest and lower estrogen can lead to the appearance of gynecomastia (puffy nipples). Regular exercise helps keep your hormone levels healthy, helping ensure metabolic health.

Cardio Workouts

Cardio workouts, short for cardiovascular exercise, target heart health by increasing your heart rate over a sustained period of time.

Activities like running, cycling, or swimming get your blood pumping faster throughout your body.

The key difference is that weight training strengthens individual muscles, including the heart. Cardio is designed to work out your entire circulatory system at once, putting a much larger load on the heart than it's used to handling under normal circumstances.

Don't push yourself too hard during cardio sessions without giving your heart adequate time for recovery afterward - especially if you're new to this kind of physical activity. (source)

Both types of exercise are crucial for maintaining good health and fitness levels.

They have different effects due to different physiological demands placed upon us during each session, making them complementary rather than mutually exclusive options within any well-rounded workout regimen.

The Importance of Pulse Rate in Exercise

When it comes to exercise, knowing your pulse rate is just as important as nailing those perfect workout techniques.

Your pulse rate can give you valuable insights into how hard you're pushing yourself and whether you need to adjust your intensity.

How high-intensity workouts affect your pulse rate

In a high-intensity workout, your heart pumps faster to supply more oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. This increases your pulse rate significantly.

While this spike may seem beneficial for burning calories and improving cardiovascular health, excessively high rates can put undue stress on your heart.

A safe way to measure if you are overexerting is by using a simple rule known as "the talk test." If you find it difficult to hold a conversation while exercising, then likely, you are working out at an overly intense level.

Proper ways to let your heart recover after intense exercises

Post-workout, the heart necessitates a break in the same way other muscles do.

One effective method is incorporating low-intensity activities or rest periods between bouts of strenuous exercise. For instance, try alternating between jogging and walking during cardio sessions or include active rest periods such as stretching in weight training routines.

Besides that, maintaining hydration levels also plays an essential role in aiding recovery since dehydration could lead to increased heartbeat, thus adding extra strain on our hearts.

Drinking water replenishes lost fluids and helps maintain normal bodily functions, including optimal cardiac performance.

Paying attention not only allows us better control over our workouts but also aids in preventing potential injuries or health complications down the line due to its ability to help detect signs of overexertion early on - making it an indispensable tool within every fitness enthusiast's arsenal.

Combining Cardio and Weight Training for Heart Health

Combining cardio and weight training is an effective way to maintain heart health.

This approach ensures that both your cardiovascular system and muscles get the attention they need during workouts.

Balance Muscle Work with Cardiovascular Activities

Muscle work is important for overall body strength, but incorporating cardiovascular activities into your routine helps ensure that your heart gets a good workout too.

It's all about balance. For instance, you might want to try doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which combines short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise.

Gradual Incorporation of Cardio into Weight Training Routines

If you're used to focusing primarily on weightlifting in your workouts, introducing cardio gradually can help prevent any potential strain on your heart.

Start by adding a few minutes of light aerobic activity like brisk walking or cycling at the end of each lifting session. Gradually increase this time as you become more comfortable until cardio becomes an integral part of your fitness regimen.

The key here is not to overwhelm yourself or put undue stress on your heart by suddenly jumping into high-intensity cardio if you're not accustomed to it yet.

Remember, consistency over intensity always wins when it comes to long-term health benefits.

Incorporating these strategies will ensure that while building muscle mass through weight training exercises, we are also keeping our hearts strong and resilient through regular cardiovascular activities - thereby achieving optimal physical fitness without compromising our cardiac health.

Above all else, remember to listen to what feels right for YOUR body.

Everyone's journey towards better health is unique, so don't compare yours with others. Instead, focus on making small sustainable changes that lead to lasting improvement in overall well-being.

The Role of Glycogen (Sugar) During Workouts

Understanding the role of glycogen, or stored sugar, in our bodies during physical activity is crucial for optimizing your workout routine.

When we exercise, our muscles rely on these glycogen stores to fuel their efforts. However, when these reserves are depleted, it can lead to feelings of dizziness or weakness - symptoms that mimic those experienced when overworking one's heart.

Symptoms related to glycogen depletion during exercise

Glycogen depletion often manifests as fatigue and a sudden drop in energy levels. You might feel lightheadedness or even experience muscle cramps.

These symptoms occur because your body no longer has enough stored glucose to convert into energy for your muscles.

Recognizing the signs of low glycogen levels is important, but it's also essential to comprehend how they relate to your heart health.

Over time, repeatedly pushing yourself beyond this point could put undue stress on your cardiovascular system - something you want to avoid, especially if you're aiming for long-term fitness and health benefits.

Addressing glycogen depletion through dietary changes

This is where adopting certain dietary strategies like ketogenic diets and intermittent fasting come into play.

By training our bodies not just depend less on stored sugars but also become more efficient at utilizing fats as an alternative source of energy.

  • Ketogenic Diet: This diet involves reducing carbohydrate intake significantly while increasing fat consumption so that the body enters a metabolic state known as ketosis - wherein it starts burning fat instead of carbs for energy.

  • Intermittent Fasting: This eating pattern alternates between periods of eating and fasting, which helps regulate insulin levels, thus promoting better control over blood sugar levels, thereby minimizing potential crashes post-workout due to depleted glucose reserves.

Keto Diet & Intermittent Fasting For Workout Efficiency

When it comes to fitness and nutrition, what you eat can have a significant impact on your workout efficiency. Many are now embracing the potential of a keto diet combined with periods of fasting to maximize fitness and nutrition outcomes.

The keto diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that can help with weight loss and improve health markers.

By reducing carbs and increasing fat, your body enters a state of ketosis, where it burns fat for energy instead of carbs.

Intermittent fasting involves cycling between periods of eating and fasting, which can promote weight loss and stimulate fat burning while preserving muscle mass.

The Impact on Workouts

Combining keto and intermittent fasting can make your body more metabolically flexible.

This means it can switch from using glucose (sugar) as its primary fuel source to using fats (ketones).

This transition can be particularly beneficial during workouts because relying less on glycogen stores means there are fewer chances of experiencing an energy crash post-workout.


Understanding the difference between weight training and cardio is crucial for optimal heart health - pay attention to your pulse rate during exercise to get the most out of your workouts without unnecessary strain on your heart.

Combining both types of exercises in a balanced way can improve cardiovascular health while building muscle - but don't forget about addressing glycogen depletion through dietary changes and considering the keto diet and intermittent fasting to enhance workout efficiency.

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