The Old Exercise Spectrum: Cardio vs Weight TrainingExercise is healthy and keeps your body in shape. Healthy people exercise. These people can almost be stereotypically be divided into the healthy individuals on one side of the spectrum who focus on aerobic or cardio exercises like running, swimming and cycling and healthy individuals on the other side that focus on anaerobic or strength training like strongman and bodybuilding. Both cardio and strength training have more specific health benefits. Cardio is great for improving the efficiency of essential functions like breathing and oxygen usage, blood circulation and heart strength, which leads to a prolonged, healthier life. Strength training, on the other side of the spectrum, is great for strengthening the body’s structure like stronger bone, joint and muscle integrity, which also leads to a healthier, prolonged life. It is considered the healthiest to do both because people who engage in both cardio and strength training are able to get the benefits from both. However, exercise programs vary depending on each individual’s goals. When a person’s goal is to build muscle, they tend to stay away from cardio because it burns calories that could be used to build muscle and poses the danger of decreasing muscle mass and growth.
But what if you could get the benefits of cardio without sacrificing muscle size and growth?
The benefits that adding cardio to a strength training program include:• Better aerobic performance. This comes in handy because you will get less tired throughout strength training as your body becomes more adept at burning energy for prolonged periods of time.
• By being physically fitter, you are able to put a larger stimulus on muscles throughout your usual workout because you will be able to train muscles without stopping because of energy constrains. That also means that you will need to rest less in between sets as you catch your breath, placing a further, greater stimulus on muscles
• The improved oxygen and nutrient delivery systems and come through better blood circulation, heart function and lung capacity as the body develops an optimised flow system which will also give your muscles the nutrients they need.
• Your body gets better at breaking down fat and using it for energy, which means that less muscle is broken down as a quick-fix for energy needs, and that cutting phases are shorter and easier as the body has already learned to break down fat for energy
When to do Cardio that will Compliment BodybuildingRemember, cardio that will compliment bodybuilding will help increase fitness and therefore efficiency, but without the dangers of hampering muscle growth.
• Doing cardio as a warm-up and cool down before and after a weight training session serves a double benefit: cardio is simply added to a weight training program for its benefits mentioned above, it gets the blood flowing and wakes up the body so that it is optimised for the serious exercise that follows (people that warm up are able to lift heavier weights for more reps and experience less injury) and redistributes blood after a workout (this prevents blood pooling so that old blood that contains lactic acid is removed from the muscle and new blood that contains nutrients gets to the muscle sooner). Remember that cardio is to complement and not take away from muscle growth, so keep warm-up and cool-down cardio sessions under 10 minutes each and make sure you do this cardio until you start to develop a light sweat but not to the point where you are too tired or don’t have enough energy to give 100% during weight training
• Cardio at a different time of the day. You could also do cardio at a different time of the day to compliment muscle growth. Some people cycle or run in the mornings and then go to the gym after work at night time, for example. Remember that if your goal is to gain as much muscle mass as possible, keep cardio sessions at a low enough duration and intensity that your body does not have too much of a hard time coping with the extra pressure placed on it to adapt to cardio sessions as well.
• Cardio on rest days. Cardio can also be done on rest days. This serves the double benefit of the ones stated above, with the advantage of increasing blood blow to the resting muscles to speed up recovery. Some people do this form of complimentary cardio by taking light jogs in the neighborhood taking a swim in the pool at times that they would be training at the gym. Keep this form of complimentary cardio easy as well, because it meant to increase the efficiency of rest days, not add extra pressure on the body. It is also important to make sure that you get some rest days of complete rest at least once every few weeks for deep recovery.
Don’t Overdo ItCardio can boost muscle growth, but too much of it will start to compete with the body for energy and nutrients over muscle growth. Don’t give as much time and effort in your cardio workout in comparison to your weight training for the best muscle growth. Start with super light cardio that doesn’t challenge you as much as your weight training sessions and build up slowly so that your body never redirects resources to adapt to cardio that it could have used to grow muscle. Keep a good eye on your diet and make sure that you are eating enough calories for the extra energy expenditure along with the usual calories needed for muscle growth and performance.
Balance is always best, but if you want bigger muscle more than the ability to run a mile, tipping the scale in the muscle direction won’t hurt. However, dropping cardio altogether might not REALLY be the quickest way to get there. STAY STRONG!