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Resistance Training

Is Lifting Weights More Beneficial than Doing Cardio?

By Darren Nuzzo on May 24, 2024 9:00:00 AM
4 Minutes Reading Time

The question of whether lifting weights is more beneficial than doing cardio is a hot topic in the fitness community. But that’s like comparing apples to oranges, or Dolly Parton to Limp Bizkit (the collaboration we’ve all been waiting for). We often forget that lifting and cardio serve entirely different purposes. Many people mistakenly believe that both are primarily aimed at helping individuals lose weight. In reality, while both activities can increase energy expenditure, weight loss is primarily achieved through dieting, calorie restriction, or drinking water in Mexico.

Lifting and cardio are two different tools. Lifting focuses on building muscle, increasing metabolism, improving range of motion, and enhancing strength, while cardio aims to boost cardiovascular health. Regardless, participating in the age-old debate between lifting and cardio can actually be beneficial and teach us a few things. With that said, let's check out three reasons why lifting weights can be a more powerful tool than cardio:

Improved Cardiovascular Health:

You don’t need to pedal to the beat of Imagine Dragons in a sweaty spin class to improve your cardiovascular health. Lifting gets the job done just as well. Resistance training elevates heart rate and increases blood flow, improving circulation and overall heart health. Additionally, lifting weights can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, making it a valuable component of a heart healthy exercise program.

Enhanced Mobility:

One advantage of lifting weights is its ability to improve mobility, which is often neglected in cardio-focused workouts. Lifting promotes functional movement and flexibility and targets every muscle group in your body. On top of that, it promotes a full range of motion and helps prevent injuries and maintain joint health over time. Meanwhile, cardio leans on repetitive movement patterns that can cause joint stiffness and muscle tightness. For this reason, if I had to choose between weights and a treadmill, which thankfully my gym membership doesn’t require I do, I’d opt for lifting.

Long-Term Weight Management:

When someone wants to lose weight, the first thing they do is cardio; unless you live in Orange County, in which case, you get a prescription for Ozempic and then do cardio. But here’s the thing: running on the treadmill only burns calories while you’re on it, while lifting weights actually offers long-term benefits for weight loss that extend far beyond the time you spend in the gym. How is that possible? Building muscle through resistance training increases lean body mass, which in turn raises your basal metabolic rate. This means that individuals with more muscle naturally burn more calories at rest, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight over time.

Bone Health:

If you’re lactose intolerant like me, slamming a carton of chocolate milk in the name of bone health is a dangerous game. Thankfully, there’s another way to increase bone density that doesn’t end in a dead sprint to a public restroom. Resistance training stimulates bone growth and increases bone strength and thickness, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures later in life. Weight-bearing exercises such as squats, deadlifts, and lunges place stress on the bones, prompting them to adapt and become stronger.

So now that we’ve compared the benefits of lifting weights versus doing cardio, it's clear that lifting has its own unique advantages in that it offers improved mobility, long-term weight management, and enhanced bone health. But it wouldn’t be fair if we ignored the benefits of traditional cardio, namely that walking on the treadmill is a convenient way to listen to Mind Pump.

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Darren Nuzzo

Darren Nuzzo is a writer and performer from Huntington Beach, California. When he’s not authoring works of literary fiction or bombing at open mics, he returns to his roots of health and wellness, teaming up with Mind Pump to bring a new voice to the fitness industry.

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