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Strength Training vs. Cardio: Which is better?

The answer to this question is undoubtedly everyone’s favorite - it depends. It depends on what your goals and needs are. Both types of exercise have their benefits.

In my lifetime as a fitness junky and physical therapist, I’ve witnessed an exciting shift in the use of each type of exercise. In the ’90s and early 2000s, I heard more talk about the need for cardio for weight loss. After all, the more calories you burn, the more weight you can lose. Not exactly.

Over the last decade, fitness conversations have included more information about strength training for weight loss, specifically, fat loss. And thankfully, more recently, these conversations have progressed to include the importance of strength training for longevity.

In this blog, I’d like to share the most up-to-date information on both. Working out consistently is hard enough. Understanding why you are doing what you are doing can be motivating and very helpful to keep you going.

Our personal trainer, Andrea Dekker, did a deep dive into the latest info on each form of exercise. Here’s what she found:


The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) defines cardio exercises as rhythmic, continuous, and performed with large body muscles. Examples include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, hiking, rowing, etc.

ACSM guidelines are moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for 30 minutes five days per week or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes three days per week.

Benefits of Cardio Exercises

  • Strengthening your heart

  • Reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease

  • Assisting in weight loss and weight control

  • Naturally boosting energy levels

  • Improving mental health

  • Assisting the immune system

  • Better sleep

Strength Training

Strength training (AKA resistance training or weight lifting) is a form of physical activity designed to improve muscular fitness by exercising a muscle group against external resistance. Examples include squats, lunges, presses, curls, rows, etc.

ACSM recommends that a strength training program be performed at least two non-consecutive days each week, with one set of 8-12 reps for healthy adults or 10-15 repetitions for older and frail individuals. 8-10 exercises should be performed each session targeting major muscle groups. On average, the frequency should be three times per week.

Benefits of Strength Training

  • Improving muscular strength, endurance, and power

  • Strengthening bone, muscle, and connective tissue growth and durability

  • Assisting with communication between your brain and muscles

  • Aiding in glucose regulation

  • Combats natural age-related muscle loss

  • Helps with fat loss, not just weight loss

How We Can Help You with Your Strength Training and Cardio Workouts

At Juniper Physical Therapy & Fitness, we understand that figuring out which exercise is best for you is just the beginning. Once you know what you like, choosing or designing a specific workout can be challenging. We get it. This is precisely why we provide personalized training. An expert to do all the thinking for you.

Our trainers go beyond one-on-one sessions. They listen to your wants, needs, and goals. They then design the best workout to achieve your individual desires. Not only do you receive progressive personalized training at the frequency you prefer, but you also get customized home workouts between sessions.


Our bodies need both strength training and cardio. An exercise program that includes cardiovascular and resistance training will offer invaluable benefits that neither type would otherwise offer alone. While cardiovascular exercise benefits heart health and disease prevention, resistance training is the clear winner when it comes to longevity and fat loss.


If you are local to Manitowoc, WI, and would like to hear more about our personal training program, please call us at (920) 320-9838. Or, book a free personal training consultation at


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