Cardio or strength training? You need both, as each affects the body differently, according to study
12/04/2018 // Michelle Simmons // Views

It's an inarguable fact that exercise can improve a person's health, but each form of exercise -- whether it be lifting weights or running -- has a different effect on the body. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation has found that cardio training may offer more benefits than strength training in terms of metabolism. The researchers, who were from the University of Copenhagen, discovered that cardio exercise and strength training affect FGF21 hormones, which have many positive effects on metabolism, differently.

In the study, the researchers examined the effects of exercise on 10 healthy young men who were randomly grouped into two and performed either cardio training or resistance training once a week. Both forms of training were relatively difficult and lasted for an hour. The cardio exercise involved cycling at a level of 70 percent maximum oxygen intake. On the other hand, the strength training exercise comprised of five exercises, which had to be repeated 10 times, designed to work on the main muscle groups in the body, such as the chest, biceps, triceps, and quads. (Related: Cardio Vs Strength Training; Which One Is Better.)

The researchers also took eight blood samples from the participants over four hours to measure changes in blood sugar, lactic acids, various hormones, and bile acid in the body.

The measurements revealed that there was a significant increase in the production of the hormone FGF21 in connection with cardio exercises, while strength training did not cause any significant change in the production of this hormone. The analysis revealed that those who did cardio training on an exercise bike experienced three times as large an increase in the production of the FGF21 hormone compared to those who completed strength training with weights. The hormone is currently being tested for its potential in the treatment and prevention of diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic disorders.


The team also measured the content in the blood of another hormone called FGF19, which has been linked to muscle growth in animal tests. They found that the production of the growth hormone dropped slightly after strength training, contrary to their hypothesis.

Based on the findings, the researchers concluded that doing cardio exercises may be better for improving metabolism.

Combining cardio training and strength training

Nonetheless, it does not mean that you should only do cardio training. It is still better to combine both forms of exercise because your body will be able to perform at its best. Each exercise complements the other and can help you reach gains that you could not accomplish by focusing on only a single type.

In cardio training, also known as aerobic exercise, you strengthen your heart and lungs, which enhances your body’s ability to transport and use oxygen. This is a great way to build endurance because the muscles need oxygen to function. Also, when the muscles utilize oxygen better, you will also have better endurance. Adding strength training to your workouts will help you to go farther and faster in your cardio workouts, increasing your cardiovascular capacity.

In strength training, you put your muscles under resistance, and that resistance and muscular contraction builds strength and size for your skeletal muscles. This increase in muscle causes faster metabolism, at the same time adding strength and endurance. Adding cardio to your workouts will enhance the way your body gets necessary oxygen to your muscles. This, in turn, will help you in your strength training to push longer and harder, increasing your strength gains.

Read more news stories and studies on the different types of exercises by going to

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