Let’s start with one question: Do cardio and strength training actually work against each other? Or on a more specific note, should we be getting on a treadmill and lifting on the same day?
In the next section, we’ll discuss and expound further how the two essential training workouts correlate – or go against, for that matter, with each other. Specifically, we will explore how strength training and concurrent training significantly affect strength, power, and hypertrophy gains.
Resistance Training Vs. Steady-state Aerobic Training
Both resistance training and steady-state aerobic training are fundamentally important. Both are able to offer great benefits to our body.
Strength training is able to promote gains in strength, power, and increase in muscle size aptly called hypertrophy. Steady-state aerobic training, on the other hand, increases the oxidative capacity of the muscle, which is the extent to which muscle can make use of oxygen. The catch is that strength training promotes a decrease in mitochondrial density which is a key factor in one’s aerobic endurance capacity, while steady-state aerobic training promotes a reduction in maximal power output and a possible decrease in Type II (fast-twitch) muscle fiber size.
That being said, we see that both resistance training and steady-state aerobic are wholly opposing in terms of physiological changes and reactions. Because of these opposite poles, we can assume and conclude that the benefits of one training mode are negated by the other and vice versa.
The Science Behind Cardio and Strength Training
In 1980, RC Hickson performed a study that demonstrated the aforementioned idea. Participants were sorted into three exercise groups following different programs: a strength training only group (S), an endurance training only group (E), and an S and E concurrent group performing the same daily exercise regimens. What the study revealed, in the end, is that the S group had significantly greater strength gains than those in E and SE training groups. Apart from this, what was surprising is that the SE concurrent training group revealed equal improvements in the maximal oxygen uptake -a measure of how much oxygen your muscles can suck out of your blood and use, aptly called VO2max.
The Main Point
Now the point of this is to answer the question of whether concurrent training always interferes with resistance training. This has been answered by an analysis of twenty studies on concurrent training conducted in 2012.
The study unfolded that power is the major performance variable that is negatively affected by concurrent training, whereas strength training alone showed significantly higher power development.
For running, for one, strength training led to significantly greater strength and hypertrophy gains in the lower body compared to concurrent training. For cycling, on the other hand, concurrent training did not substantially affect lower body strength and hypertrophy gains when compared to strength training only.
That said, the total volume of aerobic training is likely to determine whether or not concurrent training significantly negates strength, power, and hypertrophy gains.
// Wrapped Up
It is worthy to note how both strength training and concurrent training affect our bodies and yield strength, power, and hypertrophy results. While these may not be hard and fast rules, they may serve as guidelines in designing an effective workout program. Be wary, however, that bodies are different and have different reactions to training regimens.