What is the perfect ratio for cardio, weight training and strength training?

An age-old question that to this day plagues novice and veteran gymgoers alike is: What is the right combination of different forms of exercise to achieve the body I want? And therein lies the answer; what type of body do you want? And, more specifically, what purpose do you want your body to serve?

Figuring out the right combination for your goals can be done as such:

Identify your body type

Humans body types fall into three general categories: ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. Ectomorphs struggle to put on weight (fat or muscle) and have narrow hips and shoulders that do not vary in width (ie streamline build). Athletically, these individuals tend to be good at endurance sports like long-distance running. Mesomorphs have narrow hips and broad shoulders and are built for intensive sports like sprinting. They put on muscle very easily if they are physically active, but also tend to gain weight when they are sedentary (they generally don’t have an issue shaking it off, though). Endomorphs tend to have narrower hips than shoulders, and are prone to putting on weight in the form of fat. They are generally good at sports that require great displays of strength, such as competitive weightlifting or wrestling.

Then figure out what type of exercise will help you achieve what you want

What it comes down to is this.

Cardio

Cardiovascular exercises (running being a very good example) are great for promoting cardiovascular fitness (the ability of the heart, blood cells and lungs to supply oxygen to muscles). If you go to the gym throughout the week to stay fit for, say, trail running or hiking, you should probably stick to more cardio.

Weights

Weight training exercises are great for building muscle and losing weight, which is why the weights room in a gym (often referred to as the pit) is always busy during peak hours; for many, weightlifting provides all the benefits they desire. In fact, even if your chief aim is to try and promote your cardiovascular fitness, it is still recommended that you do some moderate weightlifting two or three times a week.

Strength training

For many, strength training really is the big daddy of fitness. And with good reason. Weight training counts as strength training seeing as you are putting strain on the strength of your muscles. But for strength training, your chief objective isn’t putting on size as much as it is to condition your body. Intensive cardio classes like aerobics, crossfit, callisthenics and even yoga constitute as strength training, for the simple fact, that you are challenging yourself using basic equipment and even your own body weight.

So what do I do?

If you are already lean and want to stay fit for long distance, 70-80% cardio combined with 20-30% weight lifting and strength training is your move. If you want to lose weight fast or put on serious mass, you’re going to be spending about 80% of your time in the weights room with 20% dedicated to body strength training classes or low-intensity cardio. For ectomorphs simply looking to put on muscle, cardio is not even necessary. If you are in fairly good to excellent shape and feel like you’d like to maintain an aesthetically pleasing physique, but also play volleyball or go rock climbing on weekends, 40-60% strength training classes combined with 40-60% weight lifting classes is the best course of action for you.

Bringing it all together

Remember that how much and what you eat plays a significant role in your physique’s composition. Speak to a dietician to identify an eating regimen that is suited for your needs, and combine that by consulting a personal trainer to help you fine tune the special sweet spot for your own exercise requirements.

About My Health and Fitness

Welcome to My Health and Fitness, a rich source of articles to help you become the best version of yourself. From diet to exercise and general health, our content contributors (including Biokineticists, Physiotherapists, and Fitness Professionals) will cover all your frequently asked questions and more!

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Disclaimer: Our articles are not meant to replace any medical advice as given to you by your doctor or healthcare specialist. Always consult your doctor before trying out a new exercise routine or making drastic changes to your diet, especially where pre-existing conditions are applicable. 

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