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Weights and Cardio: Can I do both?

The first point I would like to make is: “ you can’t become a marathon runner and a power lifter at the same time”. Too much time on the cardio machines will interfere with your ability to put on muscle, whilst lifting weights may slow down your aerobic fitness results. I imagine though, you’re not trying to do both; rather your just training to gain some reasonable health benefits such as losing weight, or improving muscle tone?

Sports such as ruby league and union are great examples of where there is a requirement to be aerobically fit combined with explosive speed and strength, if you investigate how these athletes train you would find that their aerobic work is conducted on separate days to their strength and power training – but of course these are professional athletes, not weekend warriors who may not have the luxury of being able to exercise 2-3 hours a day.

Some exciting research on how our muscles cells react to aerobic and strength training has revealed that our muscle cells possess two separate switches; one cellular switch to initiate the muscle building proteins and another to initiate aerobic endurance adaptations, The problem with doing both is if you start your session with cardio – your muscle cells will be primed to improve aerobic adaptations, which means your strength and muscular results will come second if you follow cardio with weights, and visa-versa. So essentially whatever modality (weights or cardio) you begin with will determine which cellular switch is set for the workout.

I think the key message to take from this research is, if your goal is to build muscle – start with weights first, or even better separate your weights and cardio sessions either by day or even if possible from morning to night. If your goal is to improve endurance or lose weight, performing your cardio work first is going to be more appropriate.

  • Accredited Sport Scientist
  • Accredited Exercise Physiologist
  • MSc. (Exercise Science)
  • Post Grad. Dip (Exercise Rehabilitation)
  • Post Grad. Cert (Diabetes Education & Management)
  • BSc. (Exercise Science & Nutrition)
  • Associate Nutritionist

 

Reference: G.A Nader. (2006) Concurrent strength and endurance training: from molecules to man. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise. 38(11), 1965-1970.

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