4 ways to prioritise weights and still get in cardio.

I’m really glad that you’ve asked this question because cardio can be a pro and con for someone on the path towards building muscle mass.

A lot of people dismiss the benefits of different forms of cardio. I do not have anything against it. I perform low impact cardio on a daily basis. For me, that’s walking as much as I can every day. I don’t do it only for the health benefits, but also the soul and emotional boost I get from it. If I was just doing it to maintain my physical fitness, I would have lost interest a long time ago. Cardio can actually make you feel pretty good!

The problem we encounter with cardio and building muscle mass is that sometimes people overexert intensity of cardio – or perform cardio for far too long. Some people can get away with doing this, but if you are a hard gainer, it may not be a good idea. Performing HIIT a few days a week is totally different than doing it every single day, or running miles in the mornings and evenings.

Cardio of a higher intensity increases your levels of cortisol, which weakens your immune system, and puts you at risk of losing muscle mass and gaining fat (especially around the belly) Don’t think that stress is only a result of work and family life. Exercise can be stressful on the body, and it will respond accordingly. You don’t want to risk being in this position when trying to build muscle. It will feel like a game of cat and mouse. My suggestion to you is that when work and home life is extremely stressful for a window of time, scale back on your training accordingly, and focus solely on rest, recuperation and sleep. This will increase your chances of retaining your muscle mass as well as your sanity! Now, you can’t really argue with that one.

Now, I want to give you the real deal here. From my experience, when building muscle mass (and if you are really serious about doing it) you must prioritise your weight training over your cardio sessions. How can you do this? Let me specify my own strategies below to help you along.

4 ways to prioritise weights and still get in cardio.

  1. Perform cardio after weights. It’s better to instil your weight training program before you do cardio. Don’t become susceptible to exhaustion before you have even attempted the weights. Use the closing of the session to cool down with some light walking on a treadmill. There is no need for intensive cardio training. Cardio is our finisher here
  2. Train cardio in the evening, weights in the morning. If you are short on time, then split your strength and aerobic training. You don’t have to go to the gym to do cardio. You can choose a light walk in the afternoons or evenings, Do it whenever it’s suitable for you.
  3. Stagger your aerobic training through the day. Don’t have time for a second session or to do anything in the evening? Your best solution is to stagger the activity during the day, Go for a long walk at lunch, use the stairs instead of a lift, get up and talk to people instead of using phones and email, take the long way when you need a coffee, eat lunch at your desk and go for a walk in your break. Walk to work instead of drive. I’m sure you can think of some creative ways to get cardio in without too much hassle on your part.
  4. Why not make one of your sessions circuit based? Don’t have time for weights or cardio, but want to do something? Put yourself through a rough circuit-based training program. Put 4–5 exercises back to back and execute them consecutively, without a break. Then on the last exercise, rest for only a 15-second window, and fire up again. This is a great way to build muscle mass, endurance and also get in your cardio. It’s a huge fat burner, and you are really getting 2 benefits with one training schedule. You could even do this once per week to break up the cardio and training monotony.

I do hope these small tricks have helped you realise how cardio can fit into your routine without breaking the muscle-building bank. Remember, always prioritise what your goals are and make that your first focus when it comes to training.

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