Fitness: Cardio, Weightlifting and CrossFit
What do you think is effective for losing weight? Is it crunching the treadmill? Or sprinting? Or pressing on weights and doing multiple repetition sets of squats? There are many theories concerning the types of exercise and their effectiveness in weight loss and fitness. Some people believe that cardio is best for weight loss compared to weight lifting. Others are confused whether to take up cross fit or weight lifting. Let’s delve into these types of exercise to find out their differences and their importances.
Comparison of Types of Exercise
Cardio vs Weightlifting
Cardio is low-intensity workouts, such as aerobics that elevate your heart rate.1 It includes workouts, such as Zumba, spinning, running on the treadmill, or jogging.
Cardio gets you fit, and you can do it every day. It’s a good fit for many people because it’s fun. You can go dancing, jogging, or hiking as you burn calories at the same time. Weight lifting, on the other hand, involves lifting weights or doing exercises that strengthen the muscles, such as squats, pushups, pullups, deadlifts, HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), etc.
Cardio helps burn calories. It improves your heart health. Cardio keeps your heart in shape, because the heart is trained to work with the highest level of operation during the exercise.
However, it doesn’t prepare you for moments of extreme stress, since you don’t deal with rapid changes unless the activity is consistent. You just need to keep running on the treadmill.1
Weight lifting, on the other hand, revs up your metabolism, makes you strong, and builds muscle. Having lean body mass helps you to lose calories even in your sleep.2
Research shows that you lose more weight with cardio compared to weight lifting. The weight gain of weight lifting is attributed to added lean body mass.2
Weight lifting requires a limited amount of time to be efficient. With cardio the more the workout, the more you lose weight. Therefore, weight lifting is more efficient for your time.1
Risk of injury
Although weight lifting tends to have less risk of injury compared to cardio, if you are not knowledgeable about it you may get injured easily than going for a walk or jogging. Therefore, for weight lifting, you would need some training to do it correctly; cardio which requires little or no coaching.
Weightlifting vs CrossFit
Although both weightlifting and CrossFit can burn calories, the goal of weight lifting is to build strength and increase lean muscle mass. However, because muscle burns calories even at rest, weight lifting can help someone lose more fat as opposed to CrossFit.4
On the other hand, the goal of CrossFit is to achieve overall fitness and is not specific like weight building is for building muscles and endurance. CrossFit incorporates weight lifting, but also other exercises.
Training alone versus in a group
Weight lifters often train on their own, with a workout partner, or have a personal trainer with them. They select their workout regimens and design their workout programs.4 In contrast, CrossFit has a real community.6 People often train in a group and tend to motivate each other beyond their limits.5 If you value support and accountability, then CrossFit may be ideal for you. However, if you like working out alone, then weight lifting is for you.
Specific versus multifaceted
Weight lifting tends to have specific exercises for specific body parts. Weight lifters work on one to three body parts at a time. Working the muscles help to strengthen the muscles and build bone mass for younger people and preserve bone mass for older people.5
For CrossFit, the exercises are multifaceted and not specific. It incorporates exercises for all body parts and seeks to strengthen the whole body. It includes weight lifting, gymnastics, and cardio exercises, like sprinting and jogging. You get exposed to new and varied exercises.5 If you tend to get bored with routine, CrossFit is for you.
Some people may find weight lifting to be boring, because of the repetitions; however, you will only see results gradually if you are consistent.
Intensity and Risk of Injury
CrossFit is intense compared to weight lifting and involves a lot of physical effort.6 People are pushed beyond their limits. For instance, you may run a 10-12 hour endurance race, which may be risky and can cause injury.5
CrossFit includes cardio to raise the heart rate; hence, you can burn more calories than weight training. However, the intensity is often challenging. The random nature of CrossFit and the intensity of the activities can increase the risk of injury.5 Furthermore, the program is not designed for specific individuals. The excess number of reps and intervals could be too much for one person.
However, weight training strengthens the muscles, increases metabolism, and increases lean muscle mass by reducing body fat.6 Weight lifting often has a custom workout plan; therefore, it wins on safety and lower risk of injury. If you want to increase your limits, then CrossFit is for you, but if safety comes first, then weight lifting is perfect for you.
It is important to choose an exercise regimen that you enjoy and suits your needs. Whatever works for you, keep doing it. You know your body best.
Regardless of the type of exercise that you choose, make sure that you do it right. Choose the right shoes, the right equipment, and make sure you enjoy it.
Remember the real health battle begins in the kitchen. Diet will determine 80-90% of your success. You need a solid nutrition strategy to succeed if you want to lose weight. Choose natural foods over processed foods to keep your caloric intake in check, as well as watching your portions. Eat more fruits and vegetables, especially those high in antioxidants. Don’t forget to hydrate.
For a better outcome, combine weight lifting and cardio. That way your body benefits from both.
We’d love to hear from you. Which type of exercise do you enjoy most?