Only 30 minutes! Cardio or Weight Training???

From some of my previous blogs, including “When the Lights Flicker Out”  and “Addicted to Planking: Plank Challenge Survivor,” you all know that I usually prefer to work out at home or outside. Well, I just moved to the Pacific Northwest. During the first month we were here, (August-September), the weather proved beautiful. Fall has come, though, and winter is not far behind.

In other words:


So, I gave in, found a crowbar, pried open my wallet, and am now paying for a gym membership at a local community center. Even for this tightwad, the affordable rate at the center can’t be beat. Plus, it’s less than a five minute drive from my house.

Of course, now I have another dilemma.

Not a Lot Of Time

I get up super early, because I find I work out better first thing in the morning before I start the rest of my day. With my house obligations in relation to cars, child care, etc., I leave for the gym around 6 AM and try to get back at or before 7 AM.

After travel time and time to stretch, I really only have 30-40 minutes to work out. I try to work out Monday through Friday, and I average about 3-4 times per week every week, which rocks!

Sadly, my brief window of workout time makes me feel like I have to choose between all-cardio or all-weight training.

First of all, I admit that I do not have a background in nutrition and nor am I an exercise expert. From my time spent in various health classes, I know that healthy adults should get a mix of both cardio and weight training.

What exactly is a healthy mix?

To help myself and to spread the word, I thought I would do a little investigative research. Here’s what I found.

Which Workout Is Best?

Let’s start off by looking at this question from a bipartisan perspective. Is all-cardio better than all-weight training?


In an article posted by the Poliquin Group TM, “The Pros and Cons of Cardio vs. Intervals,” the authors point out that the downside to an all-cardio regimen include the reverse effect of what workout junkies want. They state that:

“Over the long term, doing cardio as your sole form of exercise leads to the loss of lean muscle mass. This reduces the amount of calories burned by the body at rest and puts people at risk of pain, dysfunction, and increased diabetes risk.”

Likewise, in her article, “Should I Be Doing Cardio or Lifting Weights?” Vanessa Sofia stated that while cardio does burn fat, it won’t do much for sculpting your body. She comments that “if you are looking to tone your muscles and build definition and size, you will not achieve that through cardio exercise alone.”

So now, keeping with our bipartisan perspective, you might be thinking that all-cardio has its flaws. So what about all-weight training?

hiitReviewing several exercise and fitness articles, the most common complaint is that exercise regimens that are all about weight training result in excessive injuries or risk of injuries.

With free weights, if you don’t have the proper training, it’s easy to mess up your form and seriously pull a muscle. Similarly, machines offer more guided movements, but overdoing it causes stress on the muscles and increases your risk for hurting yourself.

In addition, Sofia points out that while weight training is the way to go for carving out that perfect body, “you will most likely develop bulk instead of a toned and streamlined body.”

Blending Routines on a Tight Schedule

Okay – I went into this already knowing that all-cardio or all-weight training wouldn’t give me the results I want. But I still only have 30-40 minutes! It doesn’t really feel like enough time to do both in the same workout. What should I do?

Nick Nilsson argues that your exercise routine and how you blend it should reflect your overall goals. In his article, “Weights or Cardio: What’s It Going to Be?” Nilsson states that you can’t successfully blend a workout routine unless you know what you want to do. For example, if you want to lose fat, you should have more cardio, whereas if you want to build muscle, you will need more weight training.

Of course things are not that simple.

jillian-michaels-shape-up-3_0Jillian Michaels, the famous fitness guru, argues that while cardio is necessary for cardiovascular health, more cardio will NOT guarantee weight loss. In her article “Finding the Right Balance of Cardio and Weight Training,” Michaels states the following:

“Resistance circuit training burns more calories than straight cardio both during the workout and after. This is because you are getting the benefits of a resistance-training workout and a cardio workout all in one.”

According to her, regular cardio is what you do to rest your muscles. After all, muscle recovery is essential, and overdoing it to the point of injury with weight training is far easier than most people think. With the exception of maybe having a heart attack, Michaels says that you really can’t overdo cardio.

In “Trainer Q & A: How to Mix Cardio and Strength Building to Zap Fat,” Mike Wunsch, Director of Training and Large Group Programming at Results Fitness and a certified personal trainer, concurs with what Jillian Michaels claims.

He points out that resistance training works the entire body and forces the body to burn more fat for energy. Of course, the level of resistance training that Wunsch describes is not exactly something that a novice like myself could do, but his points on burning fat and building muscle seem fairly accurate. He also recommends to do mostly strength training during your workout, then END the workout with a short, 5-10 minute intense cardio session.

My Plan

Well, I’m going to give the experts the benefit of the doubt, and try a regimen that’s heavier in circuit-based weight training with a burst of intense cardio to chase it down.

I am a little concerned, because my gym has requirements that you wipe the equipment when you’re done with it. Going back and forth between two machines always makes me feel like I’m being rude and taking up machines. (Silly and too polite, I know). Well, I go early enough, so here’s to hoping that I don’t piss anyone off by taking up two machines at once!



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