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Cardio vs. Weight Training

Weight Training Benefits and Risks

Improving or maintaining health should be the primary goal of any exercise program. Health not only refers to the absence of disease or illness but may include the way a person feels about their body, their confidence about participating in a variety of activities and their overall attitude toward life. For many people feeling physically fit and strong is part of being a well-rounded and confident person. Resistance training (weight training) can play an important role in the development of self-confidence and body satisfaction by increasing strength, toning muscles and increasing muscular endurance. It can also help maintain lean body mass (important for individuals attempting weight loss), decrease the risk of osteoporosis, develop coordination and balance, and prevent injuries resulting from weak muscles.

By using free weights, a person will achieve greater overall muscle mass as compared to aerobic exercise. Free weights use your natural range of motion and strengthen the stabilizer muscles. If you switch from machine weights to free weights, you will notice that your muscles will shake a lot when performing the exercises. Once you become adjusted to the feel of free weights, your stabilizer muscles will get stronger and you won't shake as much, if at all.

Performing strength training exercises with machine weights gives a person the ability to tone with the freedom of working out alone. Machine weights are nice to use when a person wants to use lighter weights and perform high numbers of repetitions. However, free weights build mass faster than machine exercises. You can only get so strong using machine weights because there is a maximum amount of weight that can be lifted. For instance, most machine exercises can only go up to roughly 200 pounds, whereas free weights can go to whatever the lifter can handle. If you can lift 500 pounds, there is no machine exercise that would be heavy enough for you.

The Advantages of Free Weights

  • A wide variety of exercises can be performed.

  • Results are fast and noticeable.

  • The equipment is often inexpensive, and is portable.

  • Free weights are suitable for all shapes and sizes.

  • It creates a more natural movement compared to machines.

  • Exercises that use free weights are often good for the rehabilitation of injuries.

Risks of Weight Training

  • More supervision is required as the risk of injury is greater.

  • Certain exercises, such as lunges or incline bench press, can be difficult to perform.

  • There is a need for lower back support, or strong back and abdominal muscles, when performing certain free weight exercises such as squats and or any standing overhead barbell presses.

  • There is a lot more to remember about how to do each exercise safely and correctly.

  • Free weights can seem intimidating.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line when undertaking an aerobic or a weight training exercise program is that you must be careful and responsible. Both may provide the type of vigorous workout that you require. So listen to your body and exercise your common sense as well as your muscles.

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