Trying to get some good progress on your fitness goals? Most people perform cardiovascular and strength training in the same session because it seems to achieve multiple goals at the same time. Yet scientists and trainers continue to ask whether or not this approach really achieves multiple goals or is, in fact, counterproductive. The answer seems to lie in the fact that our muscles are smart—they know the difference between cardiovascular, strength and flexibility work.


What is Muscle Confusion?


Muscle confusion is the idea that by constantly changing your workouts, you “confuse” your muscles and thereby increase the stimulation and resulting adaptation. Muscles get confused (just like you and I sometimes do). If you walk into a yoga studio ready to do yoga, but the room is filled with indoor cycles, you get confused. Muscles are the same way. When you combine strength and cardio in the same session, your muscles get confused at the molecular level. The molecular mechanisms associated with gains can cancel each other out, which will diminish your results.


It is widely accepted that combined training adversely impacts strength, but not endurance. Therefore, make sure to find ways to program to overcome muscle confusion and achieve strength gains, while not forgetting about cardiovascular and flexibility training. The main things for you to consider are length of recovery time after strength training, and the frequency, type, intensity and volume of endurance training.


Recovery Time恢复时间

Muscles need 48 hours for baseline strength to recover from high-intensity strength training. Building recovery time into any training program is important because this is the time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place. Recovery also allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues.


Frequency and Volume


Based on what was mentioned above about recovery, if you design a program that includes both muscle strength and endurance goals, it is best to schedule each type of exercise on alternate days. For example, if you do resistance training one day, focus on cardio and conditioning the next. Other programming suggestions include limiting endurance-training frequency to fewer than three days per week to minimize the effects on strength. How much is too much? It is recommended that endurance training sessions last between 20 and 30 minutes to minimize the negative effects of volume or amount of endurance training on strength gains.


Type of Cardiovascular Exercise 


The type of cardio exercise you choose is critical, along with the intensity and volume of it. Research shows, for example, that running combined with strength training results in greater strength loss than cycling combined with strength training. Consequently, it is recommended to include cycling in combined training programs versus running where strength is the primary goal.



The extent of strength impairment is directly related to the intensity of the endurance training. Moderate- to high-intensity endurance training reduced the effectiveness of strength training. Therefore, the intensity of endurance sessions should be decreased to limit the negative impact on strength gains. But, low-intensity endurance training sessions may not negatively impact strength gains, but are they useful to reaching your overall fitness goals? The frequency of moderate- to high-intensity sessions might should be considered on a case-by-case basis.


So, make sure that you know your fitness goal, and train yourself based on the factors that mentioned in the article. Our body is magical, by understanding how it works, you can get twice the result even with half the effort.


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