How do you find the right balance between strength training and cardio? I know that most fitness advice out there tells you not to ignore the former in favor of the latter (even though cardio always seems to work better for me for weight loss, even though I know the logic is that strength training helps your metabolism). How much strength training do you need to do per week (time wise and number of days wise) to get benefits? And what do you find is a good weekly balance between strength training, cardio and rest days? Additionally, do you tend to "count" yoga as strength training?
- Your body type - Are you naturally slim? Do you gain muscle easily? Do you tend to hold onto fat readily?
- The type of training you're doing - Is it high intensity or low intensity? Does it fatigue you for weights? Does your weight training fatigue you for your cardio?
Training to gain muscle
Training to lose fat
Training for a specific sport
Types of cardio training
Low-Intensity Cardio: Low-intensity cardio training, such as walking or slow cycling, can be done practically every single day (even several times a day) for longer periods of time. This type of training is very easy for your body to recover from, regardless of your body type and your goals. It will have very little negative impact on muscle gain and can help you burn calories for fat loss.
Moderate-Intensity Cardio: Moderate-intensity cardio training, such as jogging or swimming, will need to be done a little less frequently. This type of training requires more energy both to perfom and for your body to recover from. A person trying to lose fat can generally perform four to six moderate-intensity sessions per week at around 20 to 30 minutes each. A person trying to gain muscle should reduce this amount to two to three sessions per week.
High-Intensity Cardio: High intensity training is the toughest of the bunch but can actually net you the greatest and fastest results. This type of training is exemplified in activities such as sprinting and interval training. If you've ever had a coach make you run up and down hills, you've done high-intensity cardio. Basically, anything that you do as hard as you can for a short period of time could be considered high intensity training. In fact, intense weight training with short rest periods is very good for cardio capacity (the theory behind Cross Fit workouts).
High-intensity training is extremely effective for fat loss as it not only causes you to burn a lot of calories during the activity, it also raises your metabolism for a long time after the activity is done. This type of hard training should be done less frequently than the more moderate forms of cardio as it is much harder for your body to recover from. If you are training for fat loss, you should do at least two but no more than three high-intensity cardio sessions per week. If you are training for muscle gain, once or, at the most, twice per week should be the limit.