Cardio Training for Weightlifters: A Special Source of Strength

Posted On November 15, 2023

Cardio Training for Weightlifters: A Special Source of Strength

Over the many decades I have been both running and lifting weights, I have observed that the two fitness communities around these activities tend to regard the other with great suspicion.

Runners tend to regard weightlifting as something that will slow you down.

Weightlifters tend to think of running as something that will sap your strength.

There are small elements of truth in both perspectives. However, in the bigger picture these ideas are dysfunctional for the person who wants to be strong, fit and healthy.


What is the benefit of aerobic training for a weightlifter?

In this article Ill define aerobic training as any one of the following: running, swimming, cycling, or rowing. You can also include such sports as basketball that involve a lot of running with a lot of maximum physical exertion.

The health benefits of aerobic training are in building a powerful heart muscle and an excellent circulatory system.

Many studies have confirmed that aerobic training will build a cardiovascular system where blood flows freely to all parts of the body. People who do not do physical training tend to develop constricted veins, capillaries and arteries. As we age, this can lead to strokes or bad circulation in legs and feet.

Aerobic training has a dramatic positive impact on the capacity of the heart and lungs. Regular aerobic training can counteract the gradual decline that occurs in the heart and lungs of inactive people.

An area that is relatively unknown is the huge positive impact that aerobic training has on the function of the mitochondria in each cell in the body. Mitochondria have a major role in cell respiration and cell survival. The macro impact is improving the bodys defense mechanisms against chronic diseases.

Research conducted over the past two decades indicates that aerobic training (particularly running) has a significant positive impact on promoting a healthy life span by increasing the level of reactive oxygen species.

In short, the potential benefit of aerobic training for anyone is significant.


Why NOT do aerobic training?

The standard response is that it will make you weaker.

Having been both a weightlifter and a runner for over 50 years I have a somewhat different view.

Obviously if you run just before trying to do a heavy weight workout, you will be tired and less able to put out your maximum effort.

The other critique is that if you run you use up reserves of energy that could be used in weightlifting training. Thus, over weeks and months you wind up lifting less than you might be able to lift had you not done aerobic training.

To the first criticism, I suggest you do aerobic training after weight training or on a different day.

To the second criticism I give a resounding maybebut show me the data.


The Case for Doing Both

Most of us work out because we enjoy being athletic. The training for different activities creates physical skills in several areas. This overall physical competence falls under the heading of physical intelligence.

Moving in different ways and learning new physical patterns enable us to experience a broad diversity of sensations and challenges.

It also helps slow down the degeneration associated with aging.

In short, performing physical activities that are different from one another is good for us if the goal is physical wellbeing.

We are less viable if we are one-trick ponys.


Check this out

Now that I have encouraged you to consider aerobic training as a part of your training program, let me show you the book I have written on the subject.

As I noted above, I have been both a runner and a weightlifter for over 50 years. I competed in running at every distance from 100 meters to 15 miles. As a powerlifter, I have competed for over 30 years, including many years as a national and international level competitor.

Thus, the advice I offer is not something I picked up in a weekend class, but rather the result of over five decades of personal experience.

I have written a book that lays out a basic approach for weightlifters to use for integrating aerobic training into their program. Available on Amazon:

Aerobic Training for Weightlifters

Check it out and see how it fits with your program, lifestyle and interests.

Nothing more fun than a new challenge!

Lift Big!


Written by Richard

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