In my years of training and now coaching one thing hasn’t changed it’s peoples dislike of cardiovascular training because of the all the trivial information surrounding the subject. Some say it makes gaining muscle harder, while others swear by doing High-intensity interval training (HIIT) amongst other combinations.

However, the truth is that cardio is essential to being a well-rounded individual. It doesn’t matter if your an athlete or just an enthusiast, the benefits are imperative for an overall healthy system, such as raising “good” cholesterol levels and lowering the bad. The “good” being HDL high-density lipoprotein and the other being LDL low-density lipoprotein. Aside from cholesterol improvements, cardio aids in blood sugar regulation by lowering blood sugar, while boosting immune system strength. More importantly, studies show that any variation aerobic exercise reduces brain tissue decay since, by the age of thirty, this is a natural occurrence, slowing the process down is imperative.

Cardio & Timing

That said, there is a way to add cardio into your lifestyle without hindering muscle gain or extra fatigue. Especially, for avid gym-goers who prefer to keep excelling rather than hitting a plateau or newbies trying to find a way to improve strength and cardiovascular ability simultaneously.

The first way to do this is by having a day for weight training and another for cardio routines that are high impact or longer than thirty minutes. Doing this requires proper planning, though, as you need adequate rest between the session to keep performing optimally. Some studies prove that this also aids in almost a two-fold hypertrophic gain, even when the individual does two sessions a day split by a seven-hour rest.

However, I find that this requires a big-time commitment, which may not be suitable for everyone or too overwhelming. Therefore, opting to do shorter cardio sessions after a workout is always my recommendation. At least for those wanting to maximize gains in both areas without a considerable time commitment. A “short” session for this topic means under thirty minutes and over five. Bear in mind results will be based on the type of cardio, duration and frequency.

Type & Frequency

Cardio can be split into high impact or low impact and be as frequent as every day or a few times a week. Yet, for most the sweet spot is three twenty-minute low impact sessions a week. Since this type of training is less taxing on muscle fibres , thus leading to short recovery times instead of high impact, which requires a longer recovery time because of how taxing it is.

Some beneficial post-workout low impact exercises include cycling, elliptical, and incline walking. However, these are not the only options but the top three across studies and personal experience.

That said, thinking that adding more cardio will expedite results or aid in more fat loss is fiction. More cardio equals loss of fat and muscle in addition to hindering weightlifting performance. The reason being that fat loss is heavily linked to nutrition, overall caloric intake to be more specific. Therefore it is important to have an understanding of calorie surplus and deficit which I have mentioned in previous posts. Without it, you could be doing cardio four times a week or more with little results.

Moreover, I want to remind you that body fat percentage is very subjective and not to get consumed by those numbers. It’s more important to understand your body composition since someone could look shredded at ten per cent body fat while someone else does not. Also, it should never be about the numbers but how you feel in your skin on top of being able to live life without anxiety or unnecessary stress about exercise and fitness. The minute you start to give up on simple pleasures to abide by a fitness and health regime is a clear warning sign that things need to change or time to seek outside advice.

I am always here to help and can be contacted directly here or on Instagram @fend.r or by email

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Ethan is a self-motivated McGill graduate with strong technical expertise, social & digital marketing experience. His work relies on strong communication skills and experience interacting with various levels of stakeholders. Skills: Adept at creating device-adaptive websites and compelling e-commerce stores. Over 8 years of experience in communications, videography and web design, with a thorough understanding of cross-media processes from concept to completion.

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