Strength and cardio training — whether in-home, outside, or at the gym — are unique in their advantages. It’s essential to incorporate both for optimal health and performance. In fact, “large-scale epidemiological studies suggest that meeting only the aerobic exercise guidelines lowers your risk of premature death from any cause by 15 to 35 percent. Meeting only the strength training guidelines lowers risk by 10 to 25 percent. Meeting both benchmarks lowers risk by 30 to 45 percent” (The Globe and Mail, 2023).

Doing too much of one form over the other can also lead to imbalances. For example, excessive cardio without any resistance work can lead to muscle loss and, therefore, decreased overall performance. However, only focusing on strength (without the incorporation of a purposefully elevated heart rate) can lessen overall stamina.

The key is to use both strength training and cardio, as this will improve your physical performance, overall health, and longevity. Nielsen Fitness mobile and virtual personal trainers design all programs with this objective in mind. For those who don’t train with us – or who simply want to know more! – we’ve put together what we hope is a helpful primer on cardio, strength training, and how to balance the two. 

Cardio and strength: the balancing act


Cardio training elevates your heart rate to improve cardiovascular health while improving your endurance, burning calories, and reducing your risk of disease. Engaging in regular cardio will enhance the efficiency of your heart and lungs to improve circulation and oxygen delivery. Cardio can also support weight-loss by burning calories and increasing metabolism both during and after exercise.

The Canadian guidelines on exercise and physical activity recommend a minimum of 2.5 hours of structured physical activity per week. The majority of this exercise should focus on moderate to vigorous aerobic activity (AKA cardio) which is characterized by continuous movement of large muscle groups over a period of at least 10 minutes.

Some great examples of cardio exercise include running, brisk walking, swimming, biking, elliptical training, or even dancing. The Nielsen Fitness team offers a hands-on approach to cardiovascular health through in-home or virtual personal training. We use dynamic, equipment-free movements and circuits to increase the heart rate while remaining in one place. Typically, our team recommends most clients do at least a little aerobic activity every day (preferably outdoors) for overall well-being.


Strength (AKA resistance) training primarily focuses on building muscle, strength, and mass. It can increase definition, enhance bone density (reducing your risk of osteoporosis and fractures), boost your metabolism, and improve your posture and stability.

In doing so, strength training can significantly enhance overall function, allowing you to perform activities of daily living with more ease and a reduced risk of injury. Like cardio, building muscle can also improve your metabolism for more efficient calorie burning and easier weight management.

The Canadian guidelines on exercise and physical activity recommend strength “activities that target your muscles and bones at least 2 days per week” ( This is standard for basic health maintenance. However, it’s important to note that a strength training program with higher frequency is necessary to achieve further goals.


Creating a balanced workout routine involves thoughtful planning and heavily depends on individual needs. First, it’s important to determine your fitness objectives. Whether you’re building muscle, running a race, losing weight, or enhancing your energy, it’s key to customize your workout plan to align with these goals.

One option is to dedicate specific days or sessions to strength training or cardio; aim for a mix of activities throughout the week to keep your routine varied and engaging. For example, you could work with your virtual personal trainer 2 days of the week while spacing 2 or 3 solo runs on the days between. This gives your muscles a chance to recover between strength workouts while you’re doing cardio. If you’re short on time, another option is to combine your strength and cardio sessions into condensed, dynamic workouts. This is the style of training often utilized in Nielsen Fitness express workouts.


It’s important to integrate both strength and cardio to achieve a well-rounded fitness routine. If you’re feeling at a loss with how to balance your goals and schedule, we can help through certified in-home and virtual personal training. First workouts are zero pressure, always free and can be booked here.