- Cardio doesn’t prevent muscle growth and can complement resistance training.
- Cardio makes you fitter, which helps you recover better from strength workouts, personal trainer Luke Worthington said.
- The best type of cardio to do is one you enjoy.
Cardio and strength training have different benefits, but it’s a misconception that they can’t enhance one another, personal trainer Luke Worthington told Insider.
Cardio doesn’t “eat your gains” (ie. prevent muscle growth) and can actually complement resistance training by helping you recover from weightlifting workouts.
“Cardiovascular training is primarily an aerobic activity. Strength training is primarily an anaerobic activity, so they work on different energy pathways in our body,” Worthington said.
Cardio helps you recover from strength workouts
Cardio has many benefits like lowering blood pressure and reduced risk of
, and a healthy cardiovascular system helps us recover better from and during our strength workouts.
“If we are more aerobically ‘fit’ we can recover more quickly from anaerobic activity as we have a more efficient cardiovascular system repaying the oxygen ‘debt,'” he said.
Aerobic activity also improves sleep, which is crucial for recovery between strength training sessions.
The better recovered you are, the harder you can train and the better your results will be.
The best cardio to do is what you enjoy
If you want to build muscle, your priority should be strength training, but cardio can help.
A 2015 review of 14 studies published in the journal Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews found that men who did 45 minutes of moderate to intense cardio four days a week saw a 5%-6% increase in leg muscle size.
The difference between types of cardio is small, so Worthington says people should just choose the form they enjoy the most.
“Not many of my clients like running, but we can disguise running in a number of ways with game based activities or simply find any form of movement that you enjoy, whether that’s netball, football, rock climbing or dance,” Worthington said.
These are all aerobic activities that will help train the cardiovascular system.
Strength training improves cardiovascular performance too
If your main priority is cardiovascular performance, strength training can be helpful because it makes the body more robust and resilient enough to cope with the repetitive demand of endurance training, according to Worthington.
“If we can reduce the risk, severity, and frequency of injury, we will have a more effective cardiovascular training program, and better results,” he said.
Worthington says both strength training and cardio are important, but he thinks of the former as the main dish and the latter as the side.
“You’ll get more bang for your buck from the strength work so that should make up the staple parts of your workout week, but don’t neglect the others entirely,” he said.