It may feel as though your trying to mix water and oil when finding a balance between your aerobic and weight lifting exercises, but as it turns out there IS a “surfactant” for your unmixable dilemma after all!
As with all fitness projects, make sure that you start by defining your exercise goal. Do you want to build muscle mass? Looking to slim down? Are you just trying to have better all around health? Looking back at your goal, consider how much time you are realistically willing to sacrifice toward the success of that goal.
Now, what detailed plan do you have in place to accomplish that goal? …here starts the tricky part! Don’t worry, I’ll lay out a few rules of thumb to follow that may help guide you in the right direction in your concurrent and weekly training.
The most common scenario is, you’d like to get in shape and be a little healthier. For this circumstance, doing your aerobic activity prior to your weight lifting is recommended. Current research shows that by doing your cardio first your VO2max improvement is 30 percent greater compared to doing resistance training at the beginning of your workout. (Chtara et al., 2005)
By following this suggested routine you’ll burn more calories because of the high energy expenditure associated with aerobic exercises and still be gaining the benefits of doing weight bearing exercises. This win-win situation has yet one more benefit of increasing your post workout metabolic rate and excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. Which brings you one step closer to working off that pizza from last night.
Next in line would be the muscle gainer. Because of the high caloric demand and time strain involved it can be very difficult to implement a strong aerobic routine while trying to gain excess muscle. All that considered, because of the wonderful benefits associated with cardiovascular exercise, I find its best if you can try to fit it in even if cardiovascular improvement isn’t your top priority (or even on your mind at all). The current CDC guidelines for aerobic activity is 3-5 hours of moderate to vigorous exercise per week. If you want to gain muscle you might consider doing no more than 2 hours of moderate aerobic workouts per week. These cardio workouts would be best if done on the days your not lifting or following your lifting routine. There is data that shows resistance training prior to aerobic exercise impairs muscle metabolism and contraction, contributing to premature fatigue, and your EPOC levels are lower in comparison as well. However, if you want to gain muscle I’ve found this process to yield the greatest esthetic results. Just make sure your very cautious while doing your cardiovascular routine as to not injure yourself.
One word of caution, concurrent training has not been proven to be the best bang for your buck type of workout. If you have time to dedicate to exercising and can break your workouts up with a 12 hour split, that would be better than stacking them together. For the time constrained individual this layout seems to work best as far as science and opinion have shown thus far. These of course are just guidelines, feel free to mix it up (as usual) to keep things fresh or to fit in your busy life. Most importantly, support heart health and find some time to give that muscle a workout once in a while.