How Often Should I Do Cardio While Weight Training?

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Cardio Exercise

One of the problems that many weightlifters face is whether they have to do cardio or not. Weight training is essential for muscle growth and strength. Also, to maintain your cardiovascular fitness, it is important to do cardio exercises. You especially need cardio exercises to keep your heart healthy. It is a very important and long term benefit. Therefore, weight training as well as cardio are equally important exercises. It is a myth that you should not do cardio if you want to grow muscles. But if we study well and choose the most suitable cardio exercises, it will be a great help for our fitness journey and maintaining good health. This article contains all the information you need.


Does Cardio Really Kill Your Gains?

Yes – but actually no! It does not really kill your growth. But reduces the growth.

According to a 2012 meta-analysis, cardio exercises reduce your muscle growth by 31% and strength growth by 18%.

Source: Concurrent training: a meta-analysis examining interference of aerobic and resistance exercises

Muscle growth with cardio
Muscle & Strength gain with and without cardio

But the important thing is that you are still gaining muscles. It does not stop. It just slows down a bit. Also doing cardio in the right way can further reduce this slowdown. Considering the benefits of cardio, the slowdown can be overlooked.

How Often Should I Do Cardio

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How Often Should I Do Cardio While Weight Training

OK. It depends on your goal. According to a meta-analysis conducted in association with 21 studies, you can better protect your muscle growth by not doing cardio more than 3 days a week. It is also advisable to have a cardio session of less than 20-30 minutes, as mentioned in the study.

  • If you are a weightlifter targeting muscle growth or strength gain: 1-2 days a week for about 20 minutes
  • If you are a weightlifter targeting fat burning: About 30 minutes 3 days a week

It is also best to keep 8 hours or more between your cardio sessions and weight training. If you can keep a rest for about 24 hours, it is the best method. This will give your muscles time to recover. Also, your cardio does not interfere with weightlifting. But if you can’t keep a time distance like this, be sure to do cardio after weight training. Doing cardio first will reduce the number of reps you do in weightlifting and the amount of weight you lift. This is because of the fatigue that comes with cardio exercises. Both of these facts have been proven by research.

These values ​​are used to perform cardio while maintaining good muscle growth in the body. But if you are doing extreme fat loss, you may have to do a little more than this. Always follow your coach’s instructions.

Also, since doing cardio burns extra calories, a person growing muscle should take care to maintain their daily calorie surplus properly. Or it may impair your muscle growth.

How To Choose Good Cardio Exercises

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Cycling is a good moderate intensity cardio exercise

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a cardio workout. Intensity first. It would be best if you chose low intensity or moderate-intensity exercise to avoid stunting your muscle growth. Avoid choosing high-intensity exercises. When doing a moderate-intensity exercise, your heart rate is 50-70% of your maximum heart rate. High intensity is about 70-85% of the maximum heart rate. (Source: Target Heart Rates Chart: American Heart Association)

Exercises like HIIT also fall into the category of high intensity and should not be done. Below are some of the most suitable cardio exercises.

  • Fast Walking (On the road or a treadmill)
  • Cycling on level ground (under 15 km / h)
  • Swimming
  • Elliptical Machine
  • Moderate Sports

Another thing you need to consider is to make sure that the muscle group you are going to exercise on the day of weightlifting is not tiring beforehand. For example, not running extremely before a leg day. When the muscles become too tired from cardio, they will not be able to do proper resistance training.



Cardio is just as important as weight training for overall fitness. By doing cardio exercises properly, it can be done with weightlifting without any problem. Depending on your purpose, it is best to do 20-30 minutes of cardio 1-3 days a week. You also need to make the right choice of several moderate-intensity cardio exercises and keep rest between sessions.

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