How Often Should I do Cardio?

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One question that haunts gym users is “what is the ideal time for aerobic training?”.

How Often Should I do Cardio
How Often Should I do Cardio

Cardio for Increased Endurance

If the goal is to increase cardiopulmonary capacity and endurance, aerobic training should be done before any other, in this way, we would have all our energy reserves available to maximize this training to the maximum. The training should be of moderate to high intensity, and the time can vary from 20 to 40 minutes depending on the physical condition of each one.

Cardio for Increased Strength and Muscle Mass

If the goal of the training is to increase strength or muscle mass, we must first perform the strength training, by optimizing the energy reserves to ensure a better performance in muscle contractions. After the end of this training, you can start practicing aerobic activities. Thus, we will use the rest of the carbohydrate reserves and the fat reserves as the main fuel for this stage. The ideal is to perform at low intensity, an average of 20 minutes.

Cardio for Weight Loss

If the goal is to lose weight (decrease the percentage of fat), the practice of weight training should be prioritized before aerobic training. This is because, when we start training with weights, we consume carbohydrate reserves, then fats act as the main source of energy during aerobic activity. If after the end of training we do not ingest calories, we will consume more fat in this recovery period to resynthesize the sources of muscle energy spent in the activity. The ideal, in this case, is 20 to 30 minutes of low and medium intensity aerobic activities, which can be interval training or even low intensity for a longer time, everything will depend on the athlete’s physical condition.

Is it better to do cardio before or after weight training?

If you want to build muscle, do cardio after strength training. The reason is simple: lifting weight is difficult and you need energy (physical and mental) that you may prefer to use by lifting more weight and avoiding injuries. Even doing strength training already tired of aerobics can increase the potential risk of injury.

That’s because when researchers compared three training protocols – strength, running followed by strength training and cycling followed by strength training – they found that running or cycling before training limited the amount of weight in the repetitions that could be done compared to the strength training performed without an aerobic exercise previously.

Another study showed that muscle strength decreases after running on the treadmill, while heart rate and perceived exertion rate, or exercise intensity, increased.
Weight training should also come first if your goal is weight loss. Aerobic exercise after weight training burns more calories during the first 15 minutes than when cardio is done before training, following research published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.

Is it okay to start with cardio?

There’s nothing wrong with starting cardio before weight training. Especially if you train to keep fit. Not to mention it is a great way to warm up and prepare your body for movement. So, you may prefer to start with cardio even if weight training is your priority. In this case, do a trot or light pedal, not a hard aerobic workout, such as interval or long.

If your main goal is to improve your cardiovascular fitness, you should – definitely – start with aerobics. For the same reason, you should prioritize bodybuilding if you want to get stronger. Performing strength training before cardio can fatigue your muscles, causing you to lose posture during aerobic exercise, increasing the risk of injury.

If you are training for a run, weight training before cardio can end up decreasing your stamina. When a group of people prioritized strength training, running impairment was observed. The same, however, did not happen with the group that ran first. The data are from a publican study in the journal Applied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism.

Can I do cardio and weight training on the same day?

Usually, the orientation is to alternate the workouts – one day with cardio, the other with strength training, or vice versa. But there is no reason why you shouldn’t do both in the same workout or split into two sessions on the same day.

You can do a high-intensity workout, like CrossFit, which combines strength and cardiovascular exercises in a single session, ensuring results in less time. According to a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, this type of training does not affect you negatively on any physiological level. In addition, it can be a way to use your time even more efficiently.

Now, if you are going to split your workout into two parts in your day, make sure you leave enough time between them so that your body can recover; at least eight hours between high-intensity cardio training and strength training. Otherwise, the effect may be the opposite. Without time to recover, you end up getting weaker and at risk of injury.

What is the best type of cardio to combine with strength training?

First, strength training is an anaerobic exercise – basically, short bursts of energy that don’t require you to inhale more oxygen. So, prefer to supplement with low-intensity cardio, since aerobic exercise requires additional oxygen to keep your heart rate high.

Any low-intensity aerobic activity – be it swimming, using the elliptical, rowing, walking, running or cycling – would work. The most important thing is to choose a type of cardio that you really enjoy doing.

And remember: the more intense the cardio training was, the more recovery time it will take.

How many times should I do cardio and strength training a week?

The ideal is to do weight training three times a week. This frequency has proven to be an effective strategy when it comes to muscle building and fat loss. Cardio can be done every day if it is low in intensity; the higher the intensity, the less often you can do it.

To conclude, here are some tips for you to know whether to do cardio before or after weight training based on common fitness goals, according to the American Council on Exercise.

In short, the human body is a machine in constant discovery. It does not have right and wrong, but what is ideal for your organism. Personal Trainers recommends that you review your situation and your specific goals with a qualified professional to remove the most out of your specific training.

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