Should I Do Cardio Workouts on Weight Training Days?

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question-icon-newI read that cardio should be done on separate days from weight training. I’m following a muscle training schedule, which is the push and pull workout routine. How can I incorporate all of the weight training sessions to build muscle as well as cardio training to burn fat into a five-day workout regimen?

answer-icon-newThe answer to this really depends on your workout goals and your schedule. It also requires some experimentation on your part. If your primary goal is to gain muscle mass then your weight training sessions need to be your primary focus. The reason for this is that you want all of your body’s energy in a particular workout to be focused on the intensity of the resistance exercises. If you wish to do cardio sessions during this process you have a few options to experiment with. These include:

  • Same Session Cardio: You can do 45 minutes of weight training followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio work consisting of any type of cardio exercises to burn calories (moderate to intense). Treadmill work or elliptical training work very well. Although this does conflict a little with your weight training sessions, you can limit the cardio work to 3 days per week (Mon, Wed, and Fri).
  • Same Day Split Routine: You can also do your cardio sessions in the morning and then do your weight training in the afternoon or evening. When I was younger and looking to build muscle (and had more time) I used this routine with great results.
  • Alternating Days: You can do intense weight training Monday, Wednesday, Friday and cardio on Tuesday and Thursday.

You are going to have to experiment a little and see which type of routine provides the best results for you. One thing to note is that you can also do weight resistance training AS your cardio workout. We often times get caught up in believing that the two need to be separate but this simply is not true. A cardiovascular workout is a workout designed to stress the cardiovascular system to the point where it needs to strengthen to handle the demand we are placing on it. This means increasing the heart rate and keeping it elevated for a particular period of time. A very efficient way to go about facilitating strength training and cardio work at the same time is circuit training.

Circuit training is taking a group of particular exercises and performing them consecutively with very little rest in between each exercise. The amount of rest in between each exercise is only the amount of time it takes to move to that exercise station (20-30 seconds). You can add as many different exercises as you like but a good reference point is to start with 5 exercises targeting the entire body. Exercises can be done by either a set number of repetitions or by a specific time period. You can also add in a short period of intense work with a piece of typical cardio equipment as well. Here is an example of a circuit training workout:

  • 5 minutes of jump rope (or bike, elliptical, treadmill)
  • Pushups – 30 seconds
  • Jump squats – 30 seconds
  • Crunches – 30 seconds
  • Dumbbell curls – 30 seconds
  • Lunges – 30 seconds
  • Lat pulldowns – 30 seconds

These exercises would constitute one set. You would look to do 3-5 total sets with only 20-30 seconds of rest in between sets. This will not only keep your heart rate elevated over an extended period to work your cardiovascular system but it also works on your strength training at the same time. These types of workouts are not only time efficient but VERY intense. Try adding these types of workouts into your overall routine as well and you will find great results for both your cardio and strength levels.

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