Recent research shows that both steady-state cardio and resistance training provide heart health benefits. Fitness buffs love to argue about whether cardio or lifting are better workouts, but the study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research proves that both sides are right.
The ultimate workout regimen for heart health includes a mix of cardio and strength training. Participants in the study were assigned to four groups: 12 weeks of HIIT, lifting, a mixture of both, or only nutrition changes with no workouts. The HIIT+resistance group reaped the vascular benefits of lifting and the cardiovascular benefits of high-intensity interval training.
In this debate, everybody wins. But, if the treadmill isn’t your thing, here are a few ways you can make some lifting sessions look a whole lot more like cardio workouts to keep your heart in top shape.
Lift Lighter Weights
No, really. This will be important for the next step. Take your PR for any movement and cut it by 20-40 percent so you can go all out with good form, but not to failure.
Increase Rep Count & Tempo
This is where the lighter weight comes in handy. Your max PR is what you can lift with good form, but you can only do a few moves before you hit muscle tissue failure. That’s not enough movement to really get your heart and lungs working, so drop the weight, increase reps, and step up the tempo.
Incorporate some intervals with light rest to maximize cardio during this lifting session.
Mix Up Your Moves
Sticking to back squat, deadlift, and bench might hit the major muscle groups, but mixing up your movements and throwing in a few bodyweight or functional movement reps will engage muscles you haven’t used in a while. You’ll see greater cardiovascular engagement if you add new moves to your routine, along with the lighter weight intervals of your regular moves.
Get a Second Opinion
Sometimes mixing it up at the gym isn’t easy. We stick to the workouts and movements that we like. We like them because they show us our progress as we get stronger. That’s great, but the advice of a fitness professional could help you change things up so you get better cardio engagement to take care of your heart. Talk to a trainer about adding some cardio-style lifting to your workout routine – no treadmill required.