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When training to build muscle, many of us laugh in the face of cardio exercise. When you’re trying to build up muscle mass, doing any kind of cardiovascular exercise will do nothing but slow down your progress, ruining the weight training effort you’ve put in.
Or will it? Is there any truth to this statement? Can aerobic and resistance exercise live together harmoniously? Let’s take a look at some brand spanking new research to find out.
Run by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, ‘Concurrent Training: A Meta-Analysis Examining Interference of Aerobic and Resistance Exercises’ (2012) looks at the effects cardio exercise has on the strength built from resistance training.
The study shows that the mean effect size for hypertrophy for strength training was 1.23; for concurrent training it was 0.85; and for endurance training, 0.27. Likewise, the mean effect size for strength development for strength training was 1.76; concurrent training was 1.44; and finally endurance training was 0.78.
Various other mean results were drawn from the test with extremely similar results to those shown above. It also found that running, though not cycling, resulted in significant reductions in both hypertrophy and strength.
The journal concluded by stating: “Our results indicate that interference effects of endurance training are a factor of the modality, frequency, and duration of the endurance training selected.”
So what does this all mean?
Basically, when both cardio exercise and resistance training are used concurrently, one will always counteract the other as the biology of each exercise will always produce contrasting results.
This means you need to figure out your goal. Do you want to go for pure strength and increased size, or become faster and leaner? To be quite frank, you can’t have it all, you can just incorporate small parts of one of the exercise types into the other.
Something to bear in mind would be the short amount of intense cardio training competition bodybuilders do pre-show to shed any excess fat for the ultimate definition.