Many people turn to cardio as their primary form of exercise in an effort to lose weight, improve their cardiovascular health, or increase their fitness levels. While cardiovascular exercise does offer many benefits, relying on cardio alone may not be the most effective way to achieve your fitness goals. Here’s why cardio alone won’t help most people reach their fitness goals and how to pair it with strength training and interval training to maximize benefits.
Limited Impact on Body Composition
Cardiovascular exercise is great for burning calories and improving cardiovascular health, but it has limited impact on body composition. While you may lose weight through cardio alone, you may also lose muscle mass, which can decrease your overall strength and metabolism. Strength training and interval training, on the other hand, can help you build lean muscle mass and increase your metabolism, leading to improved body composition.
If you rely on cardio alone, you may experience a plateau effect, where you no longer see progress or improvements in your fitness level. This is because the body adapts to the same type of exercise, making it less challenging over time. By incorporating strength training and interval training, you can challenge your body in new ways and continue to see improvements in your fitness level.
Lack of Functional Fitness
Cardiovascular exercise primarily improves your endurance and cardiovascular health, but it may not help improve your functional fitness, which is the ability to perform everyday activities with ease. Strength training and interval training can help improve your functional fitness by building strength, power, and explosiveness, which can improve your ability to perform everyday activities.
So how can you pair cardio with strength training and interval training to maximize benefits? Here are a few tips:
Plan Your Workouts
Incorporate all three types of exercise into your workout routine, but plan your workouts strategically. For example, you could alternate between cardio and strength training days or combine strength training and interval training into the same workout.
Use High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT combines cardiovascular exercise with high-intensity intervals, which can help you burn more calories and build strength and endurance. Incorporate HIIT into your cardio workouts by adding short bursts of high-intensity exercise.
Incorporate Strength Training
Incorporate strength training into your workout routine to build lean muscle mass, improve body composition, and increase functional fitness. Aim for at least two strength training sessions per week.
Focus on Compound Exercises
Compound exercises, such as squats and deadlifts, are great for building strength and muscle mass. They also require more energy and can help you burn more calories during your workout.
While cardiovascular exercise offers many benefits, relying on cardio alone may not be the most effective way to achieve your fitness goals. By pairing cardio with strength training and interval training, you can maximize the benefits of all three types of exercise and improve your overall fitness level. Plan your workouts strategically, use high-intensity interval training, incorporate strength training, and focus on compound exercises to achieve optimal results.