Aerobic Exercise and the Impact on Strength Training

It’s true that muscle adaptations differ greatly in response to aerobic training versus resistance exercise. The more you train for one, the harder it will be to reach the same level in the other. But that doesn’t mean aerobic and resistance training are completely incompatible. When programmed correctly, cardio or aerobic exercise can help improve your results, your body composition, and your overall health. Studies have shown that resistance training coupled with 2-3 days of cardio can lead to greater gains than strength training alone. However, too much cardio can interfere with muscle growth, but so can too little. Performing cardio 2-3 days a week seems to be the sweet spot for complementing your resistance training gains without putting your muscles at a disadvantage to grow. Studies have shown that strength training plus cycling improved muscle size more than strength training plus treadmill walking, or even strength training alone.

Cardiovascular exercise offers some major health benefits, including improved aerobic capacity, but the benefits extend to your resistance exercise as well. Cardio can give you a higher work capacity during your gym session, allow for quicker recovery between both sets and sessions and improves your body composition. For optimal strength benefits perform exercise that increases cardio but minimizes overall volume (e.g., HIIT 2-3 times a week), cycling seems to be more beneficial than running for strength gains, and performing cardio after strength training gives better quality results.

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Luke Bell (B.Sc.- Exercise and Sport Science, B.Sc.- Exercise Rehabilitation)
Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP)(ESSAM)