Which is better: cardio, weight training, or HIIT?
Women often doubt whether to engage in cardio, weight training, or HIIT. It seems easier for men to exercise (lift weights and see your muscles grow, period), but there is no need to panic just yet. This article will review the benefits of each activity and how to balance the three. By the end of this guide, you will learn what activity is best for you.
Cardio consists of engaging in aerobic activity that increases the heart rate. Women usually do cardio to lose weight and excess fat, but it's also very beneficial for boosting endurance and heart health.
It is the activity that most women first engage in. It's easy - They don't need any expertise to stand on the treadmill and run for a while. And it's also advisable to prepare the body for a workout session. But how good is cardio for trainers?
- It's good for warming up and calming down: Someone who plans on lifting weights should engage in cardio to warm their muscles and tissues. Once the workout session ends, light cardio, such as walking on the treadmill, can help restore the energy levels.
- Heart health and reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases: Thanks to regular aerobic exercise and endurance, the blood flows better in the vessels. Better circulation in these areas help prevent heart attacks and other conditions.
- Better sleep at night: Since trainers feel more tired and their muscles and tissues need to repair themselves, they will feel the urge to head to bed sooner, have a better rest, and wake up with recharged batteries.
- Brain function and neurogenesis boost: Neurogenesis is the production of new neurons and neural connections, which is good for cognitive functions. Regular cardio sessions have been proven to boost this process and overall brain function.
- The happy hormones: Everyone has heard of the happy hormones, the endorphins. The human body releases them during and shortly after exercise, which makes you feel good. And, as with anything that makes people feel good, they want to do it again.
As with any other type of exercise, cardio can also have downsides. Fortunately, though, they are fewer than the advantages - and avoidable.
- Overtraining: Practicing aerobic activity for an excessive amount of time may lead to dehydration and even fainting. It can be dangerous. It is advisable to stop when feeling dizzy or too tired.
- Muscle loss: When someone does not consume enough high-protein meals and does not weight lift, they risk losing muscle instead of fat. It's imperative to eat eggs, meat, rice, and vegetables like spinach to prevent this from happening.
Weight lifting is often seen as the "men" workout, so much so that some men barely do cardio, regardless of its health benefits. On the contrary, some women are afraid of lifting weights. They fear they might get too muscular, or they don't know how to do it.
Fortunately, more girls are joining the weight training area in the gym! Let's see the advantages and downsides.
Weight Training Pros
- Getting stronger: This is the most obvious result of weight lifting. Muscles grow and people get stronger. But don't worry about getting too big as a woman. Women would need a ton of testosterone in their bodies to get bulky. Instead, they end up achieving a lean body.
- Less abdominal fat and leaner body: Since it burns fat and builds muscle, the body will look more sculpted and lean.
- Better body balance and lower risk of injury: As one becomes stronger, they support their body better. Therefore, there are fewer chances of falling to the ground or twisting an ankle in everyday life.
- More calorie burning: Muscle consumes more calories than fat. If a trainer builds enough muscle, they will be able to treat themselves with snacks now and then without gaining weight.
Weight Training Cons
- Risk of injuries: Although the previous section talks about the lower risk of injuries in everyday life, the risk increases during the workouts. It puts significant pressure on your body, so be careful.
- Precision required: Performing the exercise wrong can lead to harm or counteracting the benefits. An expert should guide and inform anyone who wants to weight train.
- Fitness equipment: While cardio like running can happen outdoors and without supplies, weight training often requires dumbbells, ropes, etc.
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, and it's a term for workouts that combine short periods of intense activity with periods of recovery. Chloe Ting and her fitness challenges videos on YouTube are good HIIT examples.
It's a great exercise for those who lack the time to exercise. Maybe they can't spare 2 hours a day to go to the gym and get back home, but they can sacrifice 15-20 minutes instead and exercise at home.
Everyone can engage in HIIT sessions in the gym or outdoors, but many women prefer to do them in the comfort of their rooms and living rooms - That's okay too.
- Lots of calorie-burning: It burns the same number of calories as a regular workout session but in only 15-20 minutes, which makes it good for fat and weight loss.
- Higher metabolic rate: HIIT's ability to boost the metabolism and burn calories after exercising is impressive. It improves one's metabolism more than jogging or weight training.
- Muscle gain and fat loss: HIIT exercises help people stay active and build muscle.
- It reduces blood sugar and pressure: Some studies suggest that HIIT may help lower blood pressure levels, even more than the usual recommended moderate-intensity exercise.
Just as with any other type of exercise, overdoing it can cause harm, including:
- Cortisol levels spike: Exercise is a stressor - A good stressor, though. But overdoing it can lead to high levels of cortisol and even insomnia and sleep issues.
- Metabolism can disrupt: Studies suggest that trainers who engage in HIIT five times a week or more can experience a negative metabolism disruption.
How to Balance Cardio, Weight Training, and HIIT Workout?
So, if every type of exercise is good, but none is good in excess, how to balance them all? It depends on each individual. What works for you might not work for your neighbor, and it also depends on each person's fitness goals.
- For someone who wants to lose weight, I recommend doing more cardio than weight training and incorporating HIIT workout 2-3 times a week.
- For someone who wants to build muscle, I recommend lifting weights and including occasional HIIT workouts in the routine.
- For someone who wants to stay healthy, overall, I recommend working out 3-4 times a week and doing something different each day. Cardio on Mondays, weight training on Wednesdays, and short HIIT sessions on Friday, for example.
The Bottom Line
Every type of exercise is good, although nothing is good in excess. It's necessary to take time to rest and let the muscles and tissues recover. Don't be afraid of strength training - Girls will not get too muscular because they lack the testosterone levels to do so. Instead, they will become strong and lean. Combining weight training with cardio and HIIT workouts will complete any fitness routine. It helps stay healthy and lose fat.