The gym can mean numerous things to different people.

It may be a place that fills you with anxiety, for example, as you look to commit to a more active lifestyle. Perhaps it is a source of inspiration, filled with chiselled bodies and driven by a sense of discipline, dedication and focus. It may even represent a symbol of change, as you re-evaluate your exercise and dietary habits and commit to a brighter future.

In order to meet these diverse needs, the modern gym must be multi-purpose and filled with a range of different exercise classes, arenas and items of equipment. The range of activities available in 2016 is particularly wide, and while this is great news for customers it can be confusing for fitness novices who are striving to create a viable exercise regime.

Cardio versus strength: How to tailor your work-out regime for the best

To get started on the right path, it is important to understand that there are two main types of exercise available in modern gyms. The first of these is cardiovascular activity, which is driven by short bursts of intense physical exercise that are intended to burn fat, build stamina and help you to lose weight. The second is strength and conditioning, which enables you to build muscle, develop your core and even improve your balance over time.

Each of these exercise types has unique benefits (and disadvantages), but how should you choose which is right for you? Here are three considerations: 

What are your core fitness goals?

This is the simplest but arguably most important consideration, as it forces you to consider your core fitness goals and use these to drive your exercise regime. Those who are looking to lose large amounts of weight should focus primarily on cardio workouts that burn excess fat, for example, while individuals who simply wish to tone their body and create greater definition should prioritise strength and conditioning workouts.

While you should include both types of exercise as part of a well-rounded regime that drives long-term fitness, one must be utilised by frequently that the other depending on your precise goals.

Your metabolism and ideal weight.

While cardiovascular exercises such as running and cycling burn fat while also building endurance and contracting (or stretching) muscles, those centred on strength and conditioning are focused almost exclusively on working core muscle groups and sculpting the body. This is an important consideration for those who have already reached their natural weight or have a hyperactive metabolism, as intense cardio workouts can cause the loss of unnecessary weight and ultimately cause fatigue and lethargy. These individuals should focus heavily on improving their conditioning and building muscle, only integrating cardio as their calorie intake, BMI and muscle mass increase.

The relationship between Cardio and strength.

On a final note, it is important to understand the relationship between cardio and strength and how one influences the other. There is evidence to suggest that strength and weight training gradually increases the lean muscle tissue reserves in the human body, which in turn aids increases the efficiency of cardiovascular activity and helps you to burn more calories. This drives long-term fitness and enhanced physical performance, which is ideal for athletes, exercise enthusiasts and those who simply want to optimise the impact of their workouts. Understand this is crucial as it helps you distinguish between different activities when creating a purposeful exercise regime.

As we have touched on throughout this post, both cardio and strength exercises should be combined as part of an effective regime. Your task is to prioritise one over the other depending on your physical limitations and long-term goals, altering your workouts as and when your circumstances (or body shape) change. If you would like more help on this, speak to Terry Garrick to set up a Personal Training plan.

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