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Why Cardio Isn’t Enough: The Importance of Strength Training

You’ve just finished your daily 30-minute run, and you’re feeling good. The endorphins are flowing, and you’ve burned a significant number of calories. Cardiovascular exercise like running, cycling, and swimming is wonderful for improving heart health and endurance. But is cardio enough to meet all your fitness goals?

The short answer is no. While cardio exercises, such as jogging or HIIT, are essential for cardiovascular health and fat loss, strength training is equally important for holistic well-being. Here’s why.

Cardio vs. Strength Training: The Fundamentals

Cardiovascular exercise focuses on repetitive, continuous movements that elevate your heart rate, improving the efficiency and health of your cardiovascular system. Strength training, on the other hand, involves activities that build muscle mass and improve muscle strength, endurance, and power.

Why Cardio Isn’t Enough

1. Muscle Loss Prevention

When you rely solely on cardio for exercise, especially when combined with calorie restriction, you risk losing muscle mass1. Strength training helps you preserve (or even build) muscle mass.

2. Metabolic Rate

Muscles consume more calories at rest than fat. By increasing your muscle mass through strength training, you’ll burn more calories throughout the day, even while you’re inactive2.

3. Functional Strength

Cardio can improve your endurance but doesn’t target your strength. Daily activities often require you to lift, pull, or push objects. Strength training prepares your body for these functional tasks3.

4. Bone Health

While some cardio exercises like walking and running can improve bone density, strength training has a more significant impact on bone health, reducing the risk of osteoporosis44.

5. Improved Body Composition

When combined with cardio, strength training helps you achieve a better balance between muscle and fat, improving your overall body composition and physique.

Suggested Article: The Remarkable Benefits of Strength Training: A Complete Guide

How to Incorporate Strength Training

  1. Start Slow: Begin with body-weight exercises or light weights and gradually increase the intensity.
  2. Balance It Out: If you’re used to doing cardio 4 times a week, try to include at least 2 strength training sessions.
  3. Full-Body Workouts: Engage multiple muscle groups to get the most out of your strength training sessions.
  4. Rest is Important: Make sure to rest muscle groups for at least 48 hours before targeting them again to allow for recovery and growth.

Suggested Article: Beginner’s Guide to Strength Training: Tips and Tricks


Cardiovascular exercise is undoubtedly beneficial, but it shouldn’t be your only form of physical activity. Incorporating strength training will provide a balanced approach to fitness, ensuring that you not only look good but feel good too.


Note: Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any new fitness regimen.


  1. Ballor, D. L., Katch, V. L., Becque, M. D., & Marks, C. R. (1988). Resistance weight training during caloric restriction enhances lean body weight maintenance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 47(1), 19-25. ↩︎
  2. Westcott, W. L. (2012). Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 11(4), 209-216. ↩︎
  3. Rantanen, T., & Avela, J. (1997). Leg extension power and walking speed in very old people living independently. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 52(4), M225-M231. ↩︎
  4. Layne, J. E., & Nelson, M. E. (1999). The effects of progressive resistance training on bone density: a review. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 31(1), 25-30. ↩︎

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