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Why and How Strength Training Can Make Your Cardio Workout More Effective

There’s more than one way to get your heart pumping.

For years, cardio has been about losing weight, gaining energy and improving the length and quality of our lives. Strength training has been about the weight we can lift or resist and the muscular physique we can show off doing it. But now the idea of adding strength training to our cardio routines is catching on – for two very good reasons. First, strength training makes its own demands on our hearts, so it technically is cardio. Second, it reinforces our ability to continue with traditional cardio. In that respect, it’s more essential than many of us would suspect.

We’ve presumed that cardio burns fat and only fat, but some fitness experts now point out how muscle mass can burn up with it. That’s of particular concern to those of us who are already losing muscle to the natural process of aging. Many of those muscles reinforce our bone density and stabilize our balance. The loss of either can contribute to injurious falls later in life.And that’s not the only peril of aging that strength training can counteract.

Research indicates that strength training can effectively minimize the impact of arthritis by fortifying muscle around our joints, keeping those joints lubricated and helping control swelling and pain. A Brazilian study found it reduces liver fat and improves blood sugar levels to the benefit of Type 2 diabetes sufferers. And a U.S. Government report observed that two muscle-activation sessions combined with 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week can curtail hypertension and hold off heart disease.


Finally, lifting weights in intervals increases EPOC, or Excess Post-Oxygen Consumption, a term you don’t have to commit to heart as long as you remember that it boosts your metabolic calorie burn and keeps it going for up to eight hours after your workout – making it easy to keep the fat you’ve burned from coming back.


So how do you incorporate weights into your workout?

You have several options - for instance, creating a weekly schedule with six days alternating between strength training and cardio then one day of yoga, stretching or recovery. Alternatively, you could add weights directly to your bike, treadmill or elliptical workout – increasing your heart rate with added weight resistance or with sets of lifts, curls, presses, etc. Remember, this choice usually involves lighter weights and slower speeds to preserve your balance and safety. You’ll also want to keep it low-impact so that extra weight doesn’t come down on your joints.

Circuit training is another way to go – switching quickly between high-intensity cardio and heavier weights. This often appeals to more advanced athletes, who opt for higher intensity, heavier weights and constant motion. Choose to start with cardio or strength based on your specific goals or simply upon what feels best.

And if you really want to get your cardio and strength training done in one sitting, the word you’re looking for is rowing.


How do you find the best option for you?

First, talk to your doctor about which exercise combo would do you the most good. Second, consult a professional fitness expert about creating your ideal exercise program. Last but not least, …

Visit your nearest Flaman Fitness Location, and ask about our weighted vests, dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, mats, medicine balls, bench combos, resistance training equipment,rowing machines, and more. Our experts can help you complete the ideal cardio-plus-strength workout routine and home gym layout for your needs, budget and fitness level. Find more great advice here.