“Is it ok to have a goal for lifting AND for cardio? I want to get bigger AND I want to be able to run a 10k without much notice. I hear so much conflicting information.”
First, it depends on your MAIN goal, how much time you have, and where you are on the development spectrum.
For the last point, it’s like strength training vs. bodybuilding.
When starting out, if you lift weights to get stronger you’ll also get bigger and vice versa—so much so that the programming can be very similar.
However, as you progress, the two goals lose alignment and become more like competing interests. A competitive bodybuilder and a competitive powerlifter will follow VERY different 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 eventually, you’ll have to decide what priority #1 is: losing fat and getting jacked OR being in top cardiovascular shape.
Because even though there’s considerable overlap in terms of what you’ll do, there are BIG differences in the how and why.
For getting jacked, cardio is primarily a tool to burn extra calories—ideally without negatively affecting muscle. Think moderate intensity (Zone 2) sessions, and only as often as needed to keep fat coming off.
But getting in the best cardiovascular shape requires higher intensity cardio and focusing on improving performance—which can interfere with muscle building.
And the elephant in the room?
With cardio, you’re FEULING (EATING) to MAXIMIZE performance.
On the other hand, eating to lose fat OR get bigger might use similar foods, but in vastly different amounts and with VERY different mindsets.
This is why you are best to focus on one MAIN goal at a time. And of course, you can’t do everything at once, so why not take a seasonal approach?
Build your aerobic base through the spring thaw, then shift to harder outdoor cardio to take advantage of the warmer weather.
Summer is when I’d also pull back on the weight training. Not cause you’re now a track athlete, but to let the mind and body rest a little for the upcoming “growth season” in the fall.
– Coach Bryan