Friday, February 17, 2017

How much strength training and cardio should I be doing?

I was asked a question recently regarding how much strength training and cardio someone should be doing. 
Here is my answer:
This all depends on the goal someone is aiming for.  I think we need to look at this beyond the dogmatic information that we see on the Internet.  Let's look at the facts.  

First of all, it's all good.  Low intensity workouts like walking, hiking, swimming, and biking are all great for cardiovascular (heart) health.  This is where you are exercising at a "conversational" pace. This is tremendous for heart health, blood flow, stress release and aerobic fitness and I think is needed for all demographics.  This is where we get the term "cardio".  But in the fitness world, cardio has been given a bad rap in the past 15 years because of the popularity of interval training.  There are many benefits to low intensity exercise, so let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater with this one.

Strength training supports the muscular system. We need total body strength and lack thereof can cause many problems like osteoporosis, joint pain, inadequate energy and a weak skeletal structure. All demographics need strength work in their program.

Interval training has been around for at least 70 years.  It's nothing new.  But has hit a massive popularity over the past 15 years.  This method is great for time efficient workouts where you can get in a quality workout and have a high calorie burn in a small amount of time.  You can do bodyweight intervals, conditioning circuits, high intensity intervals, sprints on a bike or treadmill or strength circuits.  These types of workouts will tap into your aerobic and anaerobic systems but can also put a lot of stress on the body so it's important to not overdo.

Strength training and higher intensity workouts will increase EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), or "afterburn". Following these strenuous bouts of exercise, you will continue to rebuild broken down muscle tissue thus increasing your caloric burn post-exercise.  That is why these types of workouts are recommended as a more efficient method for fat loss, especially if time is limited.

With that said, here are some guidelines to follow:
(Again depends on the goal)

If you were only working out 2-3 times a week, I recommend 1-2 full body strength workouts and 1-2 interval type workouts.
Workout out 4-5 days a week: 2-3 full body strength routines, 1-2 interval type workouts and 1 "cardio" workout.
Workout 5-7 days a week: 3-4 full body strength routines (or body part splits), 2 interval type workouts and 2 low intensity cardio days.

These guidelines are more for the general fitness enthusiast looking to stay healthy, burn some fat and build total body strength and stability.  The more specific the goal you are aiming for, the more detailed schedule you need to build. 

If you have any specific questions, please email me at and I will answer in a timely manner. 

No comments:

Past writings