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The Importance using Strength and Cardio to Improve Health

The Importance using Strength and Cardio to Improve Health

Kris Dixon, CPT


Well Fitness Together nation, it is time to touch upon one of the most debated topics in the exercise industry; should strength and cardio training mix? There are so many myths around this question that really cloud the true answer. I believe the real question is not whether they should mix but how should you combine them to achieve a fitness level that you have only dreamed of!

For those of you that are trying to lose weight and only do cardio, add resistance training to your exercise routine. It takes a very long time to become bulky because muscle growth is a slow process; ask those who are trying to gain muscle. "Bulk isn't muscle; it is muscle covered by fat" said Mike Roussel. Resistance training builds muscle, muscle requires more energy to maintain than fat. This means that your body will burn more calories at rest than it did before the muscle was created. 


Women have a huge disadvantage (or advantage depending on how you look at it) when it comes to becoming "bulky" because they have about 1/10th the testosterone that men do. Testosterone is a major component in the muscle building process so even if you are working out as hard as the guys you will not look like them. When you use strength training to improve the strength and endurance of your muscles your cardiovascular efficiency will improve tremendously, this allows you to burn more calories which = fat loss! The way to become less bulky is to fine tune your diet so that you lose the fat on top of the muscle, not cut out resistance training.

For those of you who are trying to gain muscle mass and fear that adding cardio will make you "burn" muscle, add cardio to your exercise routine. The only way that your muscles will be metabolized is if you exercise at a very high intensity for a time period greater than 45 minutes or if you have nothing else in your stomach to metabolize. A very easy way to combat this is with a balanced diet and exercise routine.


Now that you understand that combining these styles of training is really your best bet, I am going to show you the thought process behind combining them. The first step is to determine if you want to gain muscle or lose weight. It is better to pick one or the other at first because doing both simultaneously will slow your progress which leads to frustration and could also cause possible over-training.

Gaining muscle would require resistance training at least 3x per week with 20- 30 minutes of moderate cardio done on your off days. Unless you have been habitually working out for years, do not complete this cardio on days that you lift weights.

The next step would be to determine your body type. If it is harder for your body type to lose weight by adjusting your exercise and eating habits then you need to schedule more cardio in your routine. The opposite is to be done if you lose weight easily by adjusting previously stated conditions.

The point of this article is to make you all aware that only doing resistance training or cardio is not going to help you achieve your fitness goals. Both have to be done in order for your true fitness potential to be unlocked!