If you are avid follower of our site, you will know that performing cardio post-weight training is the way to go. Doing it in this manner allows you to use your energy to push through intense weight training workouts more easily, it has a positive effect on anabolic hormones and it has a greater effect on EPOC. These are just a few of the many benefits of doing weights before cardio. But the next question we need to answer is what is the best cardio to perform after a workout?

For more on why you should do weights before cardio, read the following article:


Cardio Before or After Weight Training?

When performing weights and cardio back to back, the cardio you do can have significant changes in the results of your training.

According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers found that 10 weeks of resistance training with cardio resulted in greater fat loss than when performing weights on their own. Nothing unexpected about that, however, the same study also found that strength gains were cut in half when cardio was added to weightlifting. Another study also found that muscle gains were also severely decreased when cardio was incorporated into a program.

While researchers believe that there are a number of reasons for the lowered gains, the most prominent is that due to the added volume, the body is not able to recover as well from the weight training. Another possible explanation is that the physiological adaptations which follow cardio are contradictory to those which occur with resistance training. Basically, researchers believe that cardiovascular gains potentially cancel out resistance training gains.


So how can we get the benefits of cardio without limiting strength and muscle gains?

According to researchers from the University of Tampa in the US, the type of cardio you perform may play a major role. The aim of their study was to see what elements of cardio were detrimental to weight training.

Running Vs. Cycling

The researchers found that running caused a larger decline in muscle growth than when compared with cycling. They believe that there are a number of reasons for this.




  • The range of motion of running is so different from lifting weights that it impairs strength gains. A good example of this would be squats. Cycling on the other hand has a large range of motion at the knee and hips.
  • Because cycling makes use of mainly concentric movement, it causes little muscle damage whereas running utilizes eccentric movements with elongation portions which cause more muscular damage.

Intensity & Duration

Now that we have discovered why cycling is better than running for post-workout cardio, we need to decide at what intensity we need to do it and for what duration.


What Cardio Is Best After Weight Training And Why

According to the University of Tampa team, fat loss is lowest with moderate-intensity, long-duration cardio and that fat loss is the greatest with high-intensity, short-duration cardio. Muscle loss is largely decreased when performing high-intensity, short-duration cardio rather than moderate-intensity, long-duration cardio.


The findings of their study are contrary to Dr Romijn’s 1990s study which found that fat loss was best when performing at a moderate intensity (60-70% of max heart rate) for a prolonged duration (45-60 minutes). What this study didn’t take into account however is that it only takes fat burning into account DURING a workout and not over a prolonged period.

Conclusion

While moderate intensity, long-duration cardio is stilled used by bodybuilders with good results, it may not be the best way to go, especially if you are a natural trainee who needs to protect every gram of hard-earned muscle.

Now, when it comes to high-intensity, short-duration cardio, instead of running, rather opt for cycling. For best results, perform HIIT with training intervals of 30 seconds all out sprint followed by 60 seconds of low intensity recovery. No more than 20 minutes is required for HIIT days and I would suggest performing 3 HIIT workouts on alternate days per week.



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