Strength training v cardio

To KO fat — and keep it off…

Cardio’s edge Calorie for calorie, cardio has a slight advantage. You’ll burn 8 to 10 calories a minute hoisting weights, compared with 10 to 12 calories a minute running or cycling, says Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., director of research at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Strength’s edge Lifting weights gives you a metabolic spike for an hour after a workoutbecause your body is trying hard to help your muscles recover. That means you’ll fry an additional 25 percent of the calories you just scorched during your strength session, Westcott says. “So if you burned 200 calories lifting weights, it’s really closer to 250 overall.” And if you lift heavier weights or rest no more than 30 seconds between sets, you can annihilate even more.

And there’s more good news when it comes to iron’s fat-socking power. “For every 3 pounds of muscle you build, you’ll burn an extra 120 calories a day — doing nothing — because muscle takes more energy to sustain,” Westcott says. Over the course of a year, that’s about 10 pounds of fat — without even changing your diet. Yes, please.

Winner: Strength

To love standing naked in front of the mirror…

Cardio’s edge Sports psychologists have been studying the effect of aerobic activity on self-confidence for decades. And they keep coming to the same conclusion: Runners, cyclists, swimmers, and other athletes have high confidence levels because of the sense of accomplishment they feel each time they cross the finish line — even when they bring up the rear.

Strength’s edge Think you look hot immediately after a workout? It’s not your imagination. Blood has rushed to your muscles, making them swell and appear more toned. Beyond vanity, you feel confident because you just pressed some major weight. In 2006, researchers at McMaster University in Ontario tested subjects’ body image — how they felt about others checking them out, and how satisfied they were with their own appearance before and after 12 weeks of strength training. The women made significant improvements, and they were particularly influenced by the physical results of increasing the amount lifted. So try this: Keep a log of how many sets and reps you complete and how much weight you’re lifting for each move. Every 4 weeks, go back and review your first workout. Feel the rush of pride, then strut your stuff.

Winner: Strength

To add years to your life

Cardio’s edge There are more health perks in cardio’s corner than Kabbalah bracelets in Hollywood. “Nothing compares with cardio for optimizing longevity,” says Mike Meyers, Ph.D., an American College of Sports Medicine — certified trainer and director of the Human Performance Research Laboratory at West Texas A&M University. “It reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke, and even certain types of cancer.” The ticker-strengthening benefits are especially sweet: A stronger heart pumps more blood with each beat, circulating oxygen more efficiently throughout your body; aerobic activity prevents inflammation around your thumper; and lacing up your sneaks can increase the “good” cholesterol in your blood by up to 8 percent in just 8 weeks, according to a 2007 study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Strength’s edge A 2006 study by the National Institutes of Health found that lifting weights just twice a week can prevent you from gaining intra-abdominal fat — the kind that wraps around organs and constricts blood vessels.

Winner: Cardio

Overall, make strength training your main focus in the gym, and do “fun” cardio like martial arts, hiking, walking etc to keep you feeling fit and healthy too.

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