Cardio vs Strength? There is a belief that if you want a lean body, you avoid strength training and to achieve muscle mass, you avoid cardio.
Cardio and strength training have different training outcomes; however, both are essential for our health and wellness.
Cardio strengthens your heart and results in a healthy cardiovascular system; it is also a great way to burn those extra calories. It keeps body fat low, which is essential for our health.
Strength training is equally important because it produces stronger bones, the more metabolically active muscle tissue that results in fat burning.
Just remember that there’s more than one way to perform cardio and strength training and if you have limited time to train you can combine both into a single training session.
Here are some ways to get cardio and strength training into your weekly schedule without having to go jogging for hours.
- Circuit training with resistance exercises and shorter rests. Include push-ups, squats, lunges and pull-ups, at about 60% load, do 15-20 reps. Don’t rest for too long between sets or exercises. For a more strength-focused circuit, perform each station for three sets in a row, before moving to the next exercise to overload a muscle group.
- Cardio intervals with resistance. Choose exercises like hill sprints, stair runs boxing or plyometrics (skipping, jumping and explosive movements), to achieve that muscle burn while pushing your cardiovascular system out of its comfort zone. This will help improve your strength and keep you fit.
- Superset strength and cardio exercises. Program a strength exercise and then a cardio exercise straight after in supersets to challenge all your body systems. Beginners can help superset upper, and lower body exercises (e.g. bench press and fast step-ups) and a more advanced version would be to superset similar muscle groups (e.g. heavy squats with jumping squats)
The only time to leave cardio out of your strength session
You would avoid adding cardio into your strength sessions if your goal is maximal strength or you have serious hypertrophy (muscle growth) goals. The reason is that you don’t want to tire out your nervous system because you need all your energy to push enough heavy loads to achieve your specific goal.
In these cases, you should still schedule cardio into your weekly program, for heart health, and ensure that you eat enough calories to fuel your goals adequately.
So, don’t skip strength or cardio sessions because the variety in your training schedule will build you a healthy, functional body ready for whatever life throws your way.