What’s the Difference Between Weightlifting and Cardio?

by Ryan Works on February 18, 2020

What’s the Difference Between Weightlifting and Cardio?

Over the last few years, fads and misinformation have distorted the image of fitness fundamentals, making weightlifting seem Herculean and making cardio seem geriatric.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth about the two forms of exercise.

Contrary to popular opinion, people can both lift weights without becoming beefy and perform cardio without becoming rail thin.

In this article, we’ll discuss what should be the foundation of every workout routine.


Weight lifting involves, simply enough, lifting weights. It’s great for anyone looking to tone up, gain muscle, or lose weight. But there are a couple different kinds of lifts.

Don’t worry—it’s very simple. In fact, lifts can be distinguished by how many joints are incorporated.

Compound lifts, like squats and deadlifts, incorporate more than one joint and more than one muscle group. While isolation lifts, like bicep curls and calf raises, incorporate only one joint and usually one muscle group.

Because they increase overall strength by exercising more muscles, compound lifts are superior (especially when starting to weightlift). But isolation lifts are necessary for improving compound lifts (i.e. not plateauing at certain weights) and sculpting a more aesthetic body.

To progress in weightlifting, weight must gradually increase.


Cardio, on the other hand, involves aerobic exercises of endurance.

As the name suggests, cardio is good for anyone looking to make their heart healthier. This is because cardio sustains elevated heartrates. But it’s rewarding for a few other reasons too.

In addition to keeping hearts fit, cardio also burns fat, balances hormone levels, and improves endurance. Most importantly, however, cardio improves muscle recovery, which is critical when weightlifting. So make sure to include cardio in whatever form you prefer—there are a lot to choose from.

Cardio includes exercises like running, bicycling, swimming, skating, and rowing—basically any exercise that sustains elevated heartrate.

To progress in cardio, distance or speed must gradually increase.


It really is that simple. When incorporated into a consistent exercise routine, weightlifting and cardio will undoubtedly help you achieve your fitness goals. So get out there and give it a try.

So block out the periphery noise and stick to the fundamentals.