When we talk about cardio in this article, we mean prolonged aerobic exercise.  While it is important to exercise your heart, too much cardio can be detrimental to the rest of your body, negatively effecting things like your hormones (can actually cause you to gain fat), muscles and bones.

It’s a long-held belief by many that endurance training is the way to go to keep healthy, especially as you get older.  This could not be more false.  As you get older, strength training becomes even more important  as your body’s natural inclination is to get weaker and more fragile.  

Here are 4 reasons to do less cardio and more strength training:

      1. Strength training is the superior method to strengthen your bonesA properly progressed strength training program will build you strong and healthy bones.  Too much cardio in the form of jogging can negatively affect your bones, leading to things like stress fractures.
      2. Strength training can reduce your risk of death if you suffer from heart disease
        Doctors are always recommending cardio to aid in heart disease, but recent research has shown that higher muscle mass is associated with a lower risk of mortality in people with heart disease.
      3. A stronger body is better able to recover from injury
        The stronger your muscles are, from strength training, the easier you will be able to recover from future injuries.  This includes things like slips and falls.  Cardio intensive training will not have the same effect.
      4. A stronger body is more resilient against injury

        As we age, we are faced with chronic injuries.  Bad backs, knees, shoulders, necks etc.  Stronger muscles are less likely to be injured.  They can handle larger forces.  Many back issues are a result of insufficient strength of the back and postural muscles.  Aerobic training won’t do this for you and could possibly leave to over use injuries.

Still want to do some cardio?  Here are a few ways to add cardio into your training without sacrificing your muscle or bone health:

  • Make your rest periods shorter – Shortening rest periods in weight training workouts will add more of a cardiovascular component to your strength training workouts.
  • Do circuit training – Circuit training is the ultimate way to combine strength training and cardio.  There are many ways of doing it.  A very common way is to have several strength training stations set up and to go from station to station without resting.  Once you complete all the stations, you rest and then repeat for a predetermined number of sets.  

Should you eliminate cardiovascular training from your program all together?  Not necessarily, but it shouldn’t make up the core of your training program.  Weight training should.