MAKING SURE YOUR CARDIO DOESN’T HINDER YOUR STRENGTH GAIN Posted on 23 May 20215 November 2021 by GymEasy Think running is going to wither your muscles away? Think again. Combining cardio and strength training can actually up your gains. HOW CARDIO CAN BENEFIT STRENGTH TRAINING Low intensity running is one way to benefit your strength training. Short- to mid-distance steady runs increase blood flow to your muscles. On the other hand, long distance running can be intense and hard on your muscles and have the opposite effect of your strength training goals. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is another good cardio option to combine with strength training because it preserves that muscle you have worked hard for. While doing HIIT workouts, you will lose fat instead of muscle. HIIT is characterised by short bursts of very hard work. Basically, intense cardio or sprints for a short amount of time. A study called Endurance Exercise Training Enhances Local Sex Steroidogenesis in Skeletal Muscle found that in rats, aerobic exercise can help increase the conversion of muscular DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is a key component in skeletal muscle atrophy (size increase). The rats were doing aerobic training five times per week for 30 minutes each time. This is something to keep in mind when planning your exercise routine. THE IMPORTANCE OF FOOD When combining running and strength training, you will need to keep an eye on how many calories are coming in versus how many calories you are burning. Burning too many calories will hinder your gains. Keep track of protein and carbs to fuel your muscles throughout your training. You will also need to make sure you eat enough healthy foods throughout the day to keep your energy up and help muscle growth. One way to make sure you get enough calories is to increase the amount so you eat the same amount you burn during your entire workout. An ideal amount would be two grams of protein per kilogram of body weight a day. As always, you should be eating enough of your fruit and vegetables, which is seven to nine servings a day. Not sure what to eat? Some good examples healthy foods include: Eggs Black beans Salmon Mixed green salad Whole grain bread Whole grain pasta Chicken Dark chocolate Tofu THINK ABOUT THE ORDER IN WHICH YOU TRAIN Some people will swear by running first where others will swear by strength training first. The right answer is what works for you. You want to train after your body has had somewhat of a break, but before muscle soreness sets in. For example, strength train and finish it off with a high intensity interval training workout for five to ten minutes when you are done. There is a sweet spot you need to find with your body. Another option is to do one program one day and the other program the next day. For example, strength train one day and run the following day. COMBINE RUNNING AND STRENGTH TRAINING The first thing you need to do before planning your program is get the right shoes for your activity, as this can help you train smarter and faster, and avoid injury. Running Shoes Guru has a good guide to help find the right shoes for you. Shoes are available for long distance running, strength training, and high intensity interval training, which is a good idea if you are combining running and strength training. Next, think about what time of program you want to do. A good example of HIIT is to run for 30, 60, or 90 seconds — one time — then rest for double the amount of the time you ran. For example, if you sprinted for 60 seconds rest for 120 then run again. An entire workout can last from 20 to 45 minutes. If HIIT isn’t your thing, running 30 minutes five times a week will do along with a strength training program. If you aren’t sure how to start out running, we have an article that can help you get started. FINAL THOUGHTS Running and strength training can enhance the progress of one another. Think about Olympian sprinters and how solid their muscles are. They do a variety of programs, including strength training and running, to increase their muscle gains. Get the right shoes and start on a running and strength training program for enhanced results of each activity.