A lot of people lift weights so they can get bigger and stronger and they feel that any type of cardio training or conditioning work would be detrimental to them. They think that cardio work will cut into their recovery ability and also will hurt their ability to get bigger. Yes, running and other cardio fitness workouts do burn calories and you will have to eat more to balance out the fitness work but not as much as you would think. Thirty minutes of fairly vigorous cardio will burn about 500 calories. That is equivalent to about 2 protein bars.
If your goal is to get bigger and gain muscle then you need to balance your weight training and cardio training. One method is to lift three days a week and do cardio or conditioning work two days a week. You should keep your weight training workouts to around 45 minutes and your cardio work to 30 minutes. This will work for the average individual training to get in or stay in shape.
If you can only training three days a week then I would do my cardio work before my weight training. This will help get you warmed up, give you heart and lungs the work they need, and keep your metabolism going. This is not carved in stone, some people prefer doing their lifting first. I think either way is fine as long as you are doing some type of cardio along with your lifting.
Competitive bodybuilders and other athletes that are trying to maintain size and lose body fat may want to follow a different type of program. While training for a contest, your cardio workouts need to be brief and done at a moderate pace. This is because your lifting workouts will be very intense. As you get closer to the contest and are trying to rid body fat then you need to increase your fat burning or cardio activity. This could be riding a bike for 45 minutes twice a week and running three to five miles twice a week. You also want to perform your cardio workout at a relaxed pace. If you can’t carry on a conversation while biking or jogging, you are working out too intensely. Performing at a moderate pace can use up to 90 percent stored fat as fuel.
Not many people like to do conditioning work but it is very important for any athlete who wants to perform better or in fact for the average individual who may want to live a little longer. The obvious health benefits from cardio and other conditioning work make it a fair trade if you don’t want to give up lifting time. As mentioned earlier, there are many ways to balance this out.