Cardio and Strength Training on the Same Day

Cardio Workouts Improve Health & Reduce RiskBoth cardiovascular activity and strength training are essential components to a comprehensive exercise program. Cardio develops the heart and respiratory system, decreases risks of heart disease and diabetes and effectively burns calories to support a healthy body fat percentage. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that everyone get at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio activity or 75 minutes of vigorous cardio exercise every week, with each session lasting at least 10 minutes.

Strength training is important for everyone because it develops muscular strength and tone, improves coordination and balance, decreases the risk of injury, develops bone density and increases metabolic rate. To build and maintain muscular development, you should participate in strength training two to three days per week, with sessions scheduled at least 48 hours apart.

But what if you were to complete both cardio and strength training on the same day? Is that okay?

Well, it depends on your personal fitness goals. It’s important to first understand that if you decide to schedule both workouts on the same day, your performance in whichever activity comes second in the day is going to be adversely affected. You’re likely going to be fatigued from the first activity and not have the same work rate during the second activity. For example, if you were to lift weights and then immediately go for a run, it would not be surprising if your running pace was slower than normal. In the opposite situation, running prior to strength training would likely result in you struggling with weights you normally are able to easily handle.

So, ideally, you schedule your strength training and cardio workouts on alternating days. This may be difficult with busy schedules as you have to work out more days per week, but it would allow you to fully recover and give your all in each workout. If scheduling them on separate days is not an option for you, then attempt to complete each at different times of the day. For example, you could fit in your cardio work when you wake up in the morning, and then participate in strength training that evening. This allows your body some time to rest in between sessions.

With that said, if your simply trying to develop or maintain your general fitness, and you can only fit in both types of workouts if you do them one-after-the-other on the same day, please do just that. You will still benefit more from getting both in, even if the one completed second is slightly limited in intensity.

However, if you’re lifting weights with the goal of building significant muscle mass, such as a bodybuilder training for a competition, it’s a good idea to not schedule cardiovascular exercise on the same day and your strength training workouts. There is evidence suggesting that completing long sessions of cardio exercise adversely affects muscular size development. When you’re participating in aerobic activity, you’re promoting a catabolic state, which means your body is breaking down your muscle tissue so that it can use the energy to fuel your working tissues. Obviously, if you want to maintain and build muscle size, you don’t want long cardio sessions cancelling out the work you did in the weight room.

If you’re primarily focused on increasing your cardiovascular endurance, such as when training for a marathon, it’s also a good idea to make a bigger effort to schedule your cardio and strength training workouts on separate days. While strength training makes a positive impact on cardio performance, your cardio workouts are the most important component of your training and you want to make sure that you’re able to put forth your best effort in every single cardio workout.

About The Author

Kim Nunley - Article AuthorKim Nunley has worked in the health and fitness field for over 10 years. She received her Master’s of Science Degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (C.S.C.S.) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. She has been a personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, physical education instructor and athletic coach, and now works as a freelance writer. She also writes short and feature-length screenplays.

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Related Articles & References

Wikipedia – Cardio / Aerobic Training
WebMD – Cardio Guide
Fitness Magazine – Cardio Exercises
Wikipedia – Strength Training
Mayo Clinic – Strength Training

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