A question of cardio vs strength:
What happens if you are training for strength and power for your sport and you also do cardio workouts?
Strength athletes warm up with cardio, but will too much cardio kill strength gains and muscle mass development?
The topic of compatibility of exercise training programs answers these questions. Hickson and other sport scientists conducted studies on concurrent training, or simultaneous training of both aerobic performance and strength development. The results and applications are critical to athletes whose goals include strength and power development.
If you look into studies that use high levels of training frequency and/or intensity for both endurance and strength, you find that:
So, a training program that includes both strength and aerobic training may limit strength gains, but improvements in cardiovascular fitness and performance are the same as if endurance training is performed alone.
Why does this happen?
It has to do with muscle fibers used for each type of training. Muscle fibers have the dilemma of trying to adapt to aerobic function and at the same adding contractile proteins to build strength. In summary:
The bottom line is that an athlete is not able to adapt optimally to both modes of training.
To answer the question of cardio vs strength, the total training program has to be designed around sport demands. To make sure that the volume of exercise is not counterproductive to optimal physiological adaptations for your sport, Kraemer et al. (2012) suggest these steps:
If you're interested in learning more about the effect of strength training on distance running, this Systematic Review of Resistance Training on Endurance explains. This is just the abstract. The full article is in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
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