March 29, 2013
Cardio or Weights? Which is more effective?

Want to train for a 5k or 10k event and beat your personal record? Cardio training (particularly running) is most effective, but incorporating plyometric or jumping drills into your cross training days will help to increase your efficiency and power as a runner.  The cross training days are necessary as a runner as they help strengthen the body, while giving the muscles used in running a much needed break.  Try a split squat jump or a single/double leg box jump to help you get started. Let’s not forget about the running days!  Instead of the usual monotonous endurance runs each training day, try mixing it up a little to help build up your speed and continue to work on endurance.  Tempo runs and fartlek runs a few days per week will help to increase the lactate threshold, helping you to be able to stay stronger for a longer period of time.

Training with the sole purpose of getting stronger, building muscle mass or increasing athleticism?  Strength training is your key ingredient, but some forms of cardiovascular training are ok.  If building lean muscle mass is the main purpose, you want to make sure you are not hindering your gains by incorporating cardio exercises that will compromise reaching that goal.  Some cardio is good and some is bad for this particular goal.  A recovery session of cardio the day of or day after a lifting day to increase blood flow to the working muscles is a safe form of cardio.  The key here is to keep the intensity and volume low to make sure your muscle growth and strength are not impacted. High intensity interval training (HIIT) on the other hand should be avoided at all costs as a form of recovery. HIIT is great for fat loss, but it is too hard on the body as it prevents you from making a full recovery before your next strength workout as it drains your protein and energy stores needed to build muscle. HIIT and explosive strength training exercises can be used the day of as a part of a strength and cardio combo to gain muscle.  These explosive training methods target fast-twitch muscle fibers, which have the greatest ability to grow and are responsible for the explosive athletic moves (e.g. jumping high, running fast, etc.).

Looking to lose weight and body fat?  Cardio, combined with strength training is definitely your best bet, as the combination is sure to lead to greater fat loss compared to just performing aerobic training.  Adding strength training to the cardio sessions actually boosts your post exercise metabolism so that your body is able to burn more calories longer after your workout.  High intensity interval training is great for the cardio portion of the workout.  Typically high intensity interval workouts range from a vigorous to active rest ratio of 1:1 to 3:1, with a total duration of 10 to 30 minutes. Interval training is highly flexible and can be applied to most types of exercises, including running, cycling, rowing, and strength training.

Written by Lindsay Exley

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