When trying to optimise your training, whether for sports performance or body composition, an important consideration is how to implement cardio and resistance training in the same training phase. Training concurrently for adaptations in resistance and endurance training known (unsurprisingly) as concurrent training (often resistance training and cardiovascular training in the same session) – is a controversial approach, as training two potentially conflicting fitness qualities can lead to less than optimal progress in both.
It is important to be aware that by training them simultaneously you could be reducing your ability to maximally adapt to either stimulus: resistance or endurance training.
Understanding how to best implement cardio around your resistance training or resistance training around your cardio can help you reap the benefits of both training aspects without the potential issues raised above.
A meta-analysis on concurrent training (Jacob et al., 2012) which examined 21 studies has found that those training concurrently for power and endurance may be more susceptible to decrements in rate of force development and overall power performance when compared with those simply training for strength and hypertrophy.
It was also shown that when pairing strength training with running, significant decreases were shown in both strength and hypertrophy. This, however, was not the case with cycling, potentially because it created significantly less impact in comparison to running. It should be noted that those running did show a greater decrease in body fat mass.
Interference with strength and endurance based training was specific to the body part trained – for example cardiovascular based training carried out on the lower limbs did not negatively impact upper body strength or hypertrophy. This indicates that a potential option would be to do cardio training on the same day as upper body resistance training.
When comparing different types of cardio – steady state and high-intensity cardio, (both paired with resistance training) studies demonstrate greater increases in power and VO2 max in the short duration sprinting group.
This analysis on concurrent training has shown that if developing power is your main focus, then training concurrently is probably not optimal and may lead to decreases in rate of force development.
However, if training for strength or hypertrophy, keeping the cardio specific to your resistance based training e.g. short distance interval training ideally on a bike or rowing machine can help maximise adaptations in endurance responses with minimal impact on resistance training.
Finally, if fat loss is your main goal without a focus on strength or hypertrophy, running showed the greatest decrease in fat mass, although this should ideally still be carried out at higher intensities via, for example, sprint intervals.
- Concurrent training: A meta-analysis examining interference of aerobic and resistance exercises. Journal of strength and conditioning research 2012.