Welcome to your questions week!
There have been a few questions about exercise order and cardio and lifting, so I thought I would just talk about this for a little bit to help clarify.
First, cardiovascular activity (cardio) mainly has to do with “heart health”. Cardio (heart related) + vascular (veins and arteries). Blood flow and heart strength are incredibly important in most bodily functions – it helps everything from endurance, to illness resilience, to longevity. These are all good things.
When it comes to body transformation (weight loss or weight gain), cardiovascular activity can either help or hinder your goals. The literature is all over the place about benefits and timing, but there are two basic rules that should help you make decision.
Do Weight Training before Cardio. Weight training involves taxing your muscles, and if you’ve already taxed your cardiovascular system, your muscles will have less potential to work.
When choosing Cardio, think about your goals. If your goal is to run faster or swim longer, do those activities. If your goal is weight loss, you have two options: high intensity interval training (HIIT) or slow steady state training. A basic HIIT would be to run as fast as you can for 30 seconds, walk for 20, run for 30, walk for 20…etc. You are aiming for 6-8 cycles of running and walking.
For steady state cardio however, it gets a little trickier. Calculate your max heart rate. You want to do at least 35 minutes, at 50-75% of your max heart rate. A good time to do this is right after a strength training workout, when you’ve already got your heart rate elevated. It’s a bit longer, which I am too lazy to do, but it’s what bodybuilders do in order to lose some fat before competition.
Hope you all are doing fantastic, and as always, feel free to email me your questions!