What’s Best – Strength Training or Cardio for Women?  

There used to be a time in the not too recent past, when only cardio was for women and weights simply didn’t fit in the mix. It wasn’t the done thing. Treadmills, elipticals, rowing machines – they were fine. But the weight room – forget it!

Unless, of course, you wanted to end up looking like a female version of the Hulk. It was cardio for women and weights for men – end of story.

Fortunately, we are living in slightly more enlightened times. The benefits of strength training versus cardio for women are finally being appreciated and more and more ladies are ditching the treadmill in favour of the squat rack.

If you’re not one of them, it’s about time you got the facts.

4 Strength Training Benefits:

 (1)  It burns a lot of calories: Lifting weight places a lot of stress on your body. To meet those demands, you have got to expend calories – lots of them. As a result, compound movements like squats and deadlifts are super calorie burners.

(2)  It builds muscle: Muscle is where stored body fat is burned. The more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn, the more sculpted your body will be and the better you’ll look.

(3)  It makes you strong: That makes it easier for you to cope with your day to day activities, takes strain off your joints and spine and boost your confidence and self esteem.

(4)  It improves your cardiovascular fitness: Strength training exercises will shunt blood around your body, making your heart and lungs work more efficiently while reducing your susceptibility to a range of cardiovascular illnesses.

 Slow Cardio Out – Weight Based Cardio In

Long slow cardio sessions on machines like treadmills are not effective calories burners. A raft of studies have shown that short, fast strength based cardio for women burns more fat while exercising, as well as stimulating a post exercise fat burning effect.

(1) A key reason is that hard, short workouts stimulate hormonal changes that stimulate your fat burning potential.

Even though major compound exercises like squats can give you a great cardio workout, they are not quite as effective as straight out cardio when it comes to your heart health.

That is, of course, unless you convert a weight training program into a cardiovascular workout by turning it into a circuit, complex or combination training program. That way, you’ll be getting the best of both worlds – strength training cardio for women who want to get in the best shape of their life.

The 3 C’s of Strength Training for Fat Loss

Circuits: Circuit training involves multiple exercises, using various training equipment from free weights to machines to body weight, performed back to back with little or no rest. Doing circuits that involve several compound exercises with heavy loads will promote maximal fat loss, while promoting muscle gain and producing cardiovascular benefits.  

Complexes: A complex is a series of strength training exercises that are each performed for multiple reps using the same piece of equipment. They involve performing exercises back-to-back with a seamless flow from one exercise to the next. Typically complexes involve using a barbell and Olympic, powerlifting type moves. They are performed at a faster pace and a higher volume than circuits.  

Combinations: Strength combinations involve a series of strength exercises blended together to create one continuous movement. The exercises are usually Olympic style exercises, but they can also be done with dumbbells and kettlebells. Within a single repetition you will be using virtually every muscle in your body.

The Bottom Line

The old school slow, boring cardio for women is old hat. Smart training involves integrating strength training into a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) regimen. Doing basic compound movements in rapid succession with little or no rest with as heavy a weight as you can handle without compromising your form will fast track to your body transformation goals. The bottom line – cardio for women today is faster, harder and smarter!