While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends healthy adults get 30 minutes of cardio most days of the week combined with two days of strength training, it can seem impossible to find the time to fit all of that into your crazy schedule. By merging strength and cardio, you not only save time, but you also improve your body from head to toe.
You can reap different benefits from cardio and strength sessions depending on how you mix these two forms of exercise together. Adding short sprints between your strength sets increases your heart rate and adds up to major calories burned. Longer, moderate cardio between strength moves builds your muscular endurance so you’ll be able to go farther and longer. Low-intensity cardio between strength sets gives your body time to actively recover. This keeps your heart rate elevated but allows your muscles to recuperate before the next move. Common types of cardio used during strength training are treadmills, ellipticals, jump ropes, stationary bikes and step machines.
With your busy schedule, finding a way to mix cardio and strength training into one workout not only produces results, but it’s also a major time saver. Combining cardio and strength training works because it effectively overloads your muscles. The harder you push your body, the more results you will see. In scientific terms, this means that by continuously putting your muscles through a certain amount of resistance or stimulation, you will improve your fitness capabilities.
If you do the same workout day after day, eventually you won’t keep experiencing the same results. This is because the human body is amazingly adaptive; you need to keep challenging it to continue reaping results. With strength training, you must progressively overload your muscles and push them to fatigue to avoid a plateau. When you are lifting, if you can do two more reps by the time you reach the end of a set, then bump up the weights in the next set.
When you see those women at the gym splitting up their workout, be excited that you know better. In a study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” in 2008, 30 women were separated into groups to follow either a combined or separated strength and cardio routine three times a week for 11 weeks. The women who followed the integrated routine experienced significant changes in regard to active heart rate and blood pressure over the separate group.
Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.