Cardio Vs. Weights? Which Is Better?

The ultimate battle of cardio against lifting.

Who will come out on top?

I have compiled some criteria to compare, so I have chosen the following:

1. Feel good factor (Which gives you the better endorphin release?)

2. Health benefits

3. My completely unbiased opinion

First of all, I do both. I am not a huge fan of cardio, but I do it.

I will run if completely necessary or if you give me a football to chase.

I currently do resistance training 6 times a week.

Whereas cardio, I walk everyday.

But that is not to say my way is the best and only way. It just suits my goals and my lifestyle.

1. Feel Good Factor

I have been on a few runs during my time and I hate to admit that the feeling of completing a run is one that is incomparable to lifting.

You may have heard of the runners high – “A feeling of euphoria that is experienced by some individuals engaged in strenuous running and that is held to be associated with a release of endorphins by the brain

Another theory is back when we used to chase or be chased for food back in the day, this led us to be motivated to run far and fast. Some shit never changes.

I would not advise running into a field and winding up cows or chasing pigs.

So running is good in that regard. But what about lifting?

“Lifting weights is very decent for the brain because when you get a pump and feel massive, you genuinely think your solid and can push everyone around” – (Thomas Jackson Smith, 2020)

On a serious level, weight lifting has been scientifically proven to provide the release of endorphins and improve the sense of well-being. Also long term effects of increase in muscle mass and definition are likely to increase general confidence.

Round 1 Summary:

Short term, running is better.

If you run first thing in the morning you are probably going to feel good about it, and for the rest of the day.

Long term, I would suggest lifting.

I have never heard anyone say, ‘I wish I had less muscle’.

Look good, feel good.

2. Health Benefits


  • Reduces risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, breast and prostate cancer
  • Helps maintain bone density
  • Boosts cognitive health such as improved memory and reducing risk of dementia.
  • Provides you with more energy, relieves stress and helps ease depression/anxiety symptoms.


  • Builds muscle mass, reduce body fat and therefore lower risk of hypertension, heart disease and obesity related illness.
  • Improve joint stability
  • Improve flexibility, balance and co-ordination
  • Reduce risk of dementia
  • Improve energy, relieves stress and helps ease symptoms of anxiety/depression.

They both have similar properties considering mental health.

You’ll also notice that resistance training is also effective for the cardiovascular system by replacing fat with muscle.

Cardio will burn more calories though if your trying to lose weight.

But lifting weights will increase long term metabolism therefore increasing the amount calories burnt at rest.

Short term weight loss – Cardio

Long term weight loss – Both

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3. My Completely Unbiased Opinion

It all depends on the needs of the individual and what their goals are!

Just another reason why you need to understand that one plan can’t work for numerous people.

Every plan needs to be individualised for each person and their preferences.

If you consider yourself at risk of any of the illnesses mentioned, it’s probably a good idea to train specifically to improve in that area.

If you ONLY want to get stronger lift weights.

If you ONLY want to get fitter, then do more cardio.

If you want to lose weight, build muscle and have all the numerous benefits then do both.

This shit takes time.

My advice and how I just approach everything in life is:

Start and try.

Get better at something.

Get good at it.

Add new stimulus.

Get better at it.

Get good at it.


Or realise you aren’t good at it, learn from it and try something else.

You can cut out all the experimenting and speak to someone qualified and get some advice too.

You can contact me directly.


A general rule of thumb I’d suggest a combination of the two.

If you are like me and don’t particularly enjoy cardio, there’s plenty of things you can do to make it as enjoyable as possible too.

>>For more information, posts, training programmes and training tips visit my website

Published by Thomas Jackson Smith

Personal Trainer. Qualified Strength and Conditioning Coach, Exercise Referral specialist, Football coach and entrepreneur. Interested in health and fitness, exercise prescription, football, nutrition, injury prevention, recovery and mindset improvement. Any views are my own and from my own experience. Looking to build links within the blog community, replying to feedback and offering support so we can learn and grow together!

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