With all of the fitness and workout advice coming from virtually everywhere in our world, Bob and Ron tackle a common question, “Is cardio or strength training best?” The answer may surprise you but, read on as they make sense of this situation.

Bob's Experience:

Many people are confused or at least undecided about what a mix of cardio and strength training they should practice, particularly now that they're 50 plus. In my particular case I've generally leaned more towards some form of strength or resistance training – driven initially by my desire to look better. You see, I was told at the time that strength training was the primary form of exercise for changing the shape of your body – and it worked.

After lifting weights under the guidance of a personal trainer for 18 months, I had to have all my suits altered, taking in the pant waist and seat, taking in the coat at the waist and letting out the coat at the back seam and under the arm. I had effectively changed the shape of my body to something more of the “V” expected and desired by some. And this was at the age of 49. Wow, was I proud of my accomplishment.

Yes, I also did cardio, primarily treadmill walking and rowing machine to help burn more fat and help my heart, but to change the shape of your body I'd recommend weight training.

However, beyond the esthetic side, and more importantly for us over 50, I truly believe that we really need to keep all areas of our body strong as we age. We do not want to end up as one of those individuals with a reliably strong heart and lungs who can not get up from a chair by themselves. If you want to live a full 50 + / + Fit Quality of Life Style you have to keep your body strong, not just your legs, but all muscle groups.

But the question remains, how much of each for a good balanced workout? And is it “one size fits all?” Or does the ideal mix of the two forms of exercise depend on your individual goals and needs? I assume it's an individual case-by-case decision, so for thing for those wise words, I have to turn to Ron.

Ron's Expertise:

True words! In fact, some fitness experts suggest that if your goal is to add muscle mass, you might even abstain from cardio training until you are close to reaching your muscle-building goal. This is assuming that you have little or no fat to lose before adding muscle.

For most of us 50+, the multiple benefits of a good cardio routine can not be ignored. Stamina – that is the ability to continue to do whatever you'd like without wearing out “quickly is a key benefit to a consistent cardio workout. Additionally, cardiovascular health – or a “healthy heart” is a benefit derived from a cardio workout that is possibly the most powerful reason to hit the treadmill. And, like any form of working out – strength or cardio – the residual calorie burn for hours after finishing your workout will help burn excess calories, if weight loss is your goal.

Cardio workouts should be aggressive enough that while working out you can only speak in short sentences – this is referred to as the “talk test.” If you can carry on a lively conversation, step up your workout. If you are gasping for air, slow it down just a little.

Of course, as you add muscle mass, you're adding to your calorie burn – even at rest. So, for most of us 50+, a good combination of both is the ideal approach. Current industry trends suggest cardiovascular training 30-60 minutes, 4-6 times per week plus a full-body resistance / strength training session 4-5 days per week.