This week I’m gonna cover a really good question from a client:
“Bryan, it ok to have both a goal for lifting AND a goal for cardio? I want to make big progress with my programs AND I want to be able to head out and run a 5k-10k if a pal asks without much notice.
I hear so much conflicting information about ‘running will ruin your gains’ or ‘you can do cardio but keep heart rate.”
First, it really depends on what your MAIN goal is, how much time you have, and where you are on the development spectrum.
For the last point, it’s sorta like strength training vs. bodybuilding. When you’re starting out, if you lift weights to get stronger you will get bigger as well—and vice versa. So much so that the programming can be very similar.
However, as you go further along the two goals start to become less aligned and they become more like competing interests. A champion bodybuilder and a champion powerlifter will follow VERY different lifting programs.
It’s a similar deal with cardio and weight training. Someone who just wants to look better and get in better shape would be encouraged to do a balance of weights and cardio, but as you go along you will eventually have to decide what priority #1 is: losing fat/getting jacked OR getting in top cardiovascular shape.
For getting jacked, cardio is mainly a tool to burn calories, ideally while not negatively affecting muscle. So want to be doing moderate intensity sessions only for as long as necessary to keep fat coming off.
But getting in the best cardiovascular shape requires higher intensity cardio and focusing on improving performance, and that can interfere with muscle building. There’s also the biggie: with cardio you’re FUELING (EATING) to MAXIMIZE performance. You should always eat to perform well and feel good.
Eating for fat loss is obviously a totally different angle and a much different mindset.
This means your best bet is to focus on one MAIN goal at a time.
Focus on getting jacked for a few months — diet, weights, and add as much cardio as needed to meet your aesthetic goal.
(Though if you build up to 120-150 mins of cardio a week at 120-150 bpm you WILL get in better shape as well.)
Then shift gears and focus on higher intensity work to get in superior cardio shape.
For example, I recently started my fat loss process with a little cardio every day and by the end of June I’ll likely be near an hour of low-intensity cardio a day.
Then come July-Aug I plan to pull way back on both weights and cardio and do some actual running outside a few days a week, i.e., at much higher intensities.
This allows me to train a different fitness quality while taking advantage of the sunny weather, and it lets my mind and body rest a little for the upcoming “growth season” in the fall.
The process might look similar for you. In sum, you can have a balance of both; just not always at the exact same time.
– Coach Bryan