One of the most fundamental mistakes that people make with their fitness regime is omitting either the cardio, or weight training element.
A combination of gym myths, misunderstandings and lack of knowledge, mean that many people dismiss these workouts based on what they perceive is most suited to their personal goals.
But the truth is that a mixture of both forms of exercise is a MUST for the optimum workout.
Common misconceptions, such as ‘weight training will make me bulky’ and ‘running burns muscle’, often deter gym-goes from embracing both forms of exercise. So, let’s dispel the myths.
- Weight training adds bulk
Contrary to popular belief, muscle growth is a very slow process. Combining weight training with a cardio regime can actually assist fat burning and weight loss, as strength training executed correctly increases the endurance of your muscles. This in turn, improves cardiovascular performance.
Regular weight training can also help to burn fat, even when you’re not in the gym. Whilst exercising on the treadmill or cross-trainer, it’s easy to get caught up with how many calories you’re burning during a workout. Weight training actually challenges the body to work harder in everyday life, and increases the metabolic rate.
- Running burns muscle
In extreme cases, where there’s no fat left to burn, the body will start to use muscle for fuel. Balance a healthy diet with your training and you shouldn’t incur any muscle loss through a cardio workout.
- Time it right
It’s commonly regarded that cardio exercise is a bad idea, right before weight training. The significance of this really depends on the aim of your regime. If the purpose is fat burning and not muscle building, then some gentle weight training post cardio is going to be alright.
If your aim is to build mass, then the last few reps where you really struggle is where the muscle stimulation is at its peak. If you’ve already engaged in a tough cardio workout, your glycogen stores will be depleted, making this more difficult to achieve.
Completing your cardio workout straight after weight training is better than doing it before, as it generally doesn’t deplete your glycogen stores as much. If possible, leave at least two hours between the two exercises, or perhaps alternate the type of workout done on each day.
- Personalise your approach
Mixing cardio and strength training is really beneficial for achieving a prime workout, but it does require a personalised approach based on your individual goals and body type. To make sure you get the right balance for what you need from your workout, consider:
- Aim: what do you want to achieve and what will help you do this in the most effective way?
- Body type: Your body’s natural tendencies, such as finding it easy to lose weight, or being inherently muscular, should be factored into your workout plan. E.g., an endomorph, who is naturally heavy-set, will need more cardio workouts built into their routine to lose weight; but will gain muscle much more easily.
- Preference of sport: what are you naturally good at and what do you like doing? It sounds obvious, but the more enjoyment you get from exercising, the more likely you will stick to it.
Using apps such as Gain Fitness can be really helpful for building a tailor-made regime. If you have any top tips for putting together the optimum workout, let us know.
This article was contributed by Laura Moulden on behalf of Fightshop.com, specialist providers of MMA fight gear.
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