Let’s Talk Cardio
Cardio is great for heart health, expending a lot of calories in a short time, and overall fitness. Cardio is also easy to overdo. With the rise of places like SoulCycle, Orange Theory and other HIIT style classes, I’ve seen too many clients going 5-6 days a week on all out intensity and not eating enough or recovering enough to reap the full benefits.
In terms of fat loss, cardio isn’t going to help keep you hard earned muscle on your frame. In fact, if eating at a low enough caloric intake, and doing enough cardio (which I’ve found is most clients that end up coming to me), they end up holding onto their fat and burning through more muscle. There just isn’t a strong enough signal or need for the body to justify keeping calorically expensive muscle over fat when it comes to survival
On the other hand, resistance training creates positive, long term metabolic effects on the body. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at REST. Every time you lift weights you send a signal to your body that it needs to GROW in order to keep up with this stress you keep giving it. Again, your body is built for survival so it will adapt according to the signal placed on its body.
Lifting weights also allows you to get stronger in a functional way. Functional meaning loading strength through a fuller range of motion. All those knee issues, and aches you might get from running can be worked out through a proper lifting program. This is due usually to imbalances and muscle weakness in the body.
Specificity - What is Your Goal?
It really comes down to what your goal is. If you are getting ready for a marathon, then running is going to be your priority. If it is fat loss, or muscle gain, then weight lifting should be the number one priority of the two. People love to put themselves into these camps of one being better than the other. Sure, certain modalities lend themselves better to certain things. The reality of the situation is you are most likely better off utilizing a combination of both things.
By throwing in cardio you can build up that endurance that will translate into your weight training days. If you create a bigger metabolic capacity you’ll be able to perform longer in the gym and in life. You can even combine the two, and do movements like supersets, or circuits, that give some of the weight training stress coupled with the stamina earned doing these movements in succession of each other with little to no break. Just be careful not to go overboard. If your goal is fat loss, it’ll help create the needed deficit to lose weight. If it’s to gain size, having 1-2 cardio days will help keep your heart strong, and aerobic capacity running efficiently. You shouldn’t ever FULLY neglect either form of exercise.
3 Full Body Workout days - 1 exercise per muscle group - 3 sets of 6-8 repetitions (choose a weight where you can hit that rep range and only have 1-2 reps left in the tank).
2 days - these can be done after a workout or on their own day - 30 minute steady state cardio (could be jogging on treadmill, playing basketball, swimming, etc. Enough to get your heart rate up but you can still carry on a conversation just a little bit)
1 day - HIIT Cardio - on a non-workout day - For those just starting out focus more on doing HIIT cardio in the form of sprints on a bike, rower, or even outside on the track. 5 minute warmup, 4-6 30 second sprints with 1-1.5 minute break in between, then cooldown for 5-10 minutes.