You may have heard before that combining strength training and cardiovascular training is a bad idea. Most people focus on either strength-based workouts or cardio-based workouts only as they believe doing both simultaneously can negatively affect their progress. But is there any truth to this? Or is it just a gym myth that’s been plaguing the fitness industry?
In this article, we’ll address the elephant in the room and find out whether or not you should incorporate strength and cardio training into your workout program. It is always advisable to speak to an expert before making any final decisions such as a personal trainer at our Mandurah gym.
Common misconceptions about combining strength and cardio training
Most people do cardio because they want to lose weight and do strength training. After all, they want to build muscle. However, two common misconceptions have pervaded gyms around the world and these are; looking too bulky when lifting weights and losing muscle due to cardio.
People who wish to slim down tend to avoid strength training because they think it will make them look bigger. The thing is that building muscle is a prolonged process, and it requires a well-designed workout program along with proper nutrition to get the best results. Not a single person will look big or bulky in a short period. To be honest, proper weight training burns more calories and fat compared to cardiovascular training.
On the other hand, weightlifters who wish to pack on lean muscle tend to avoid cardio because they fear it will affect their muscle growth. While extreme cases of over-training can lead to atrophy (muscle loss), cardio training will not affect your gains unless you’re eating a crap diet and you’re not working out properly.
These misconceptions have led to unsatisfactory results in the gym and have affected the motivation levels of avid gym-goers. The truth is that a healthy balance of strength and cardio training can help maximise your results and allow your body to perform at its best. Instead of competing, you can utilise these two systems to complement each other to achieve your desired body composition.
Combining strength training and cardio the right way
Knowing that strength training and cardio don’t cancel each other out is only half the challenge. The real test is knowing how to balance these two training methods properly. Many people have incorporated strength and cardio into their workout programs and experienced great success thanks to a methodical training approach.
The first thing you should do is to identify your goals. Do you want to build muscle? Or do you want to lose fat? You should be aware by now that building muscle and losing fat at the same time is very difficult to do. Instead of juggling between strength training and cardio, try to focus on one training method and use the other one to complement your already existing workout program.
For example, say you are looking to gain lean muscle mass. Ideally, your workout program should consist of three lifting days and two moderate to high-intensity cardio days. Doing your cardio sessions during your off-days allows you to burn more fat and reduce your risk of overtraining.
Conversely, if you are looking to lose weight, you can throw in a couple of workout days into your program to burn more calories and fat. To burn even more calories, you can try out high-intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT is a form of cardio that’s based on short periods of intense anaerobic exercises. This training method transforms your body into a fat-burning machine by quickly depleting your energy stores and using fat as fuel for your workouts.