Dear Coach: How Do I Get Better Cardio, Without Losing Strength?

It’s the age old question – you’re getting stronger, but you’ve lost your cardio. Now what? Can you have lungs and muscles at the same time? Coach Nick chimes in on this one!

Dear Coach,

I’ve been lifitng heavy weights 3-4 times a week for about 3 months now, and I want to start building my cardiovascular for fitness test (7.5 beep test, mostly I struggle because running is the bane of my existence). However I don’t want to sacrifice too much of the strength/lean mass gain I’m still benefiting from as a beginner weightlifter (primarily in deadlift, press, benchpress, kroc rows, squat, glute bridges, etc), what would the best way to Incorporate this in a program together?

Kind Regards,

Dear Lara –

Defining your goals clearly, being sure those goals are realistic, and making sure what you do in the gym reflects those goals is probably the most important triumvirate missing in a recreational lifters program. It is at the heart of what separates great athletes from everyone else.

It looks like you have some pretty clearly defined goals – I like that. The issue is that training for conditioning and cardiovascular health CAN conflict rather seriously with strength and muscle gaining goals. How much they conflict comes down to how deeply you want one or the other – or worse, both. Thankfully, if you keep things within the realms of reality, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Imagine you are a sprinter, not a marathon runner. Think of your conditioning workouts as a serious 100-meter sprint. Sprinters have GREAT cardiovascular health. They just have poor muscular endurance. You don’t need muscular endurance. That would go against your goals.

Here’s the workout:

  • I suggest you pick three to five weight bearing exercises – most of them for the upper body (like push ups, pull ups, etc)
  • Do them in a circuit of some type for five rounds
  • Go for about eight to twelve reps on each exercise
  • Take FULL rest after each round so that each time you can be strong and can push your hardest – this point shouldn’t be taken lightly
  • Sprint, don’t jog!
  • Do this workout only two or three times a week (and feel free to change the exercises every time).

That is plenty. Try to get stronger on this circuit over time just like a sprinter would try to get faster. This type of cardio workout fits very well with a strength program, and won’t take away from your goals.

Coach Nick Horton

(Click here for articles by Coach Nick)

Leave a Comment

Do Not Sell My Personal Information