Why Your Routine Should Include Lifting AND Cardio
Some people include only cardio in their exercise routines, while others stick solely to strength training. To be fair, many who only do cardio are endurance athletes that benefit from being as light as possible (i.e. runners), while those who stick to lifting are usually bodybuilders or powerlifters who must add muscle mass to increase strength or aesthetics. However, both groups can benefit from spending some time in the other camp.
This may not be intuitive, but strength training is critical for all endurance athletes, whether you are a runner, cyclist, rower, swimmer, etc. The stronger your muscles are, the more balance, coordination, and power you can attain while performing the movements necessary to excel in your sport.
Additionally, strength training can increase the strength of bone, tendons, and ligaments, which are vital to just about every sport in some way.
Sport-specific strength training is key to seeing results that truly enhance your performance. For my rowing clients, I focus on building back, core, and quadriceps strength, but also on working opposing muscle groups to ensure balance and symmetry.
For my running clients, I focus on core, quadriceps, and calf muscles, as well as hamstrings (to balance out the quadriceps). Each sport requires a different focus and training modality, but all athletes can benefit from strength training.
Cardio’s Importance in Strength Training
For athletes involved in strength, power, and physique sports, cardio is important for maintaining heart health and overall integrity of the blood vessels. Especially when lifting very heavy (1-3 rep max lifts), a lot of pressure is put on your cardiovascular system, which can be detrimental without proper aerobic fitness.
I’m not saying that power lifters should pick up long-distance running, but HIIT training or moderate walking, jogging, or swimming will allow you to keep your heart rate and blood pressure at healthy levels.
For physique athletes, cardio obviously plays a vital role in contest prep, but should remain part of the routine during the offseason as well, even if it’s just two 30-minute sessions per week.
If you do not identify with a particular sport, just remember that the key takeaway is to balance strength training and aerobic activity. This can be done by completing 2-4 days of strength training per week coupled with 2-4 days of cardio, depending on your overall goals. Or, you can always try a HIIT cardio or boot camp class to get your cardio and strength training all in the same place!
For inquiries on workout plans and other services through NOVA Sports Nutrition, leave me a comment or send me an e-mail!