Weight training vs cardio for toning: Which is better for women?

Let’s face it, we all want to look and feel our absolute best, and for many of us, one of the first things we must address is our weight. When it comes to general health, fitness, and well-being, our weight plays a pivotal role in determining just how healthy we actually are. Some of us however, are not content with simply getting down to a healthy weight; we instead want to build a lean and toned physique to be proud of.

Although we’re in the midst of winter at the moment, bathing suit season will soon be upon us and if you want to get a fantastic beach body this summer, you may want to think about toning up. Each and every single day, women all over the world hit up gyms and fitness centres in a bid to burn fat and tone their muscles. What is especially surprising, however, is that a majority of them do this by focussing on cardio as opposed to weight training. Though both forms of exercise are extremely beneficial, women tend to favour cardio, when in reality a combination of both with yield far more impressive results.

 

Why are some women put off by weights?

Walk into any gym with an even mixture of male and female members, and you’ll generally see the majority of men lifting weights and using resistance based machines and equipment, whilst the women will generally be favouring the cardio equipment such as treadmills, rowing machines, exercise bikes, and cross trainers. The reason for this is that some women are afraid that if they lift weights, they’ll end up looking like a female hulk, with huge muscles and veins bulging out everywhere.

 

 

DragonCon. Wikimedia Commons: Kyle Nishioka

 

 

Firstly, let’s get one thing cleared up right now.

That is never going to happen!

Building muscle is extremely difficult and it requires years upon years of intense training, healthy eating, knowledge, and dedication to even get close to how bodybuilders look when you see them on stage. As well as this, to build the huge size they have, they often also have a little, shall we say *ahem* chemical assistance. For the average person however, lifting weights regularly is not going to transform you into a walking slab of muscle. It is however, going to help you to burn fat, build a little lean muscle mass, and tone and firm up your physique.

 

So, is lifting weights better for toning the body than cardio?

Cardio exercise is hugely beneficial for us. It helps burn fat and calories, it improves heart health, it promotes general health and well-being, and it does help to tone the body.

 

Zumba instructor Tyler Barnes, a junior at Roanoke College, teaches five zumba classes a week in the Alumni Gym.. Wikimedia Commons: Roanoke College

 

 

However, if it is pure toning you’re looking for, you simply must incorporate weight training into your fitness routine.

Lifting weights, especially via machines, helps you to really isolate specific muscle groups and stimulate the muscle, firming it up and burning fat in the process. If your triceps are a little loose and flabby for example, working them with a combination of machine and free-weight exercises will help to firm them and tone them up.

For optimal results, it is recommended to combine cardio with weight training as the cardio will help to strip away any body fat which may be covering the muscles, whilst the weights themselves will help to firm and tone the muscles.

 

US Air Force (USAF) Airmen First Class (A1C) Lenee Walker, Emergency Actions Controller, Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, United Kingdom (UK) lifts weights at the new fitness center at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base (AB), Romania, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Wikimedia Commons: MSGT Jon Nicolussi, U.S. Air Force

 

Feature photo: Mireia Belmonte García, the best women’s swimmer in history. Wikimedia Commons: Juan Carlos Morán y Luciano Insua

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