The right balance of strength and cardio training is completely dependent on your training goals and what you hope to get out of your time, effort, and commitment to fitness. Someone looking to compete their first 5k running race will have a different balance than someone looking to do a bodybuilding competition. Here are some strategies to help you find balance based on your goals:
Most people think they need to do as much cardio as possible and eat very little in order to lose weight. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Cardio will certainly support fat loss, but will also lead to muscle loss as well. Finding the balance between keeping/gaining muscle, getting enough calories to support that muscle, and sprinkling in some cardio to burn fat, is key. I have always been a big believer in cardio intervals to improve cardiovascular fitness, plus it boosts metabolism throughout the day. Intervals should be done 2-3 times per week. The rest of the week includes 2-3 strength training sessions and 1 longer moderate intensity cardio session.
If you are looking to add muscle, cardio can be your nemesis. While cardiovascular fitness is still important to heart health, it also tends to burn muscle in addition to fat. Your focus should be great nutrition and 3-5 sessions of strength training per week. Add to that, 2-3 days of interval-based cardio and you are good to go. Remember, pre and post cardio nutrition will prevent muscle loss as much as your strength training sessions so, don’t skimp on nutrition knowledge.
For cardiovascular focused events such as obstacle events, 5k and 10k races, marathons, and triathlons, cardio-based workouts will always consume most of your training time. But, you will also want to maintain your strength and muscle definition. Cardiovascular training should make up 3-5 days of your training week. This should be supported by at least 2-3 total body strength training workouts. The strength training workouts will support your performance goals by improving strength and power – while still preventing muscle loss from the amount of cardio you are doing.
Remember, both strength and cardiovascular training will always be necessary components to a balanced physical fitness program. To be successful, Stay consistent, balanced, and focused on your goals!