The cool thing about strength training is that, not only do you see physical changes, but the physiological changes happening within you are far greater. I’m talking about the hormonal benefits. When you do a strength workout (weight training), the anabolic hormones (testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor 1) can be elevated up to 48-72 hours post workout. That means things are happening inside your body when you’re not even trying! The recovery process is huge when it comes to strength training because of this. You are able to take rest days while your muscles are still growing and adapting to the exercise stimulus.
What people don’t like about strength training is that it takes a long time to see improvements. People are impatient, and they want to see results right away as they’re putting in the hard work. It’s a several years process to achieve the body you desire. So why is it worth the wait? Well because of the hormonal effects I just mentioned, this has the ability to actually change your metabolism. You’ll be able to eat more and look better when your metabolism is higher.
Cardio is good because it burns the most calories, but unlike strength, it’s post workout effects last only a couple hours. Muscles are not stimulated to grow, meaning anabolic hormones are not activated the same way as seen in strength. Some might say testosterone is elevated with running, but that is only to prevent muscle from breaking down, not for building muscle. So why do people choose this? Well they see results fast because it burns the most calories. We know that a caloric deficit is needed to lose weight effectively, and choosing cardio means you are burning more calories to help with this. The problem with this is that people still eat the same amount or more because they are working out, which means they are not even losing weight anymore.
Although this is a temporary solution to losing weight while on a caloric deficit, there is no long term effect due to the lack of anabolic hormonal response. Your metabolism will not change as you are not building muscle. You will gain the cardiovascular benefits that come along with cardio as well.
While there are pros and cons to both strength and cardio, it should relate to your overall fitness goal. If your goal is to lose weight, you should choose strength for the long term metabolic benefits. If you are an endurance athlete, you should do both, as you will need both. If you need better heart health, it is a good idea to do cardio!