Strength Helps Cardio Burn Calories

11.2.2017 | Forge Performance

Why Strength Is Important

Strength is the foundation of all things. It is the base. Lack of strength inhibits all other qualities of the body, to some degree. When we talk about burning calories, we typically think of cardio. However, they also fail to realize how important it is for cardiovascular performance. (To learn more about this topic, read our Article Conditioning for Performance).

The Role of Strength

So what role does strength training play in our bodies ability to burn calories during cardio? The body needs to be strong in order to achieve a certain level of effort. For instance, it makes no sense to perform high intensity interval training (HIIT) without the presence of strength training. Below is a graphic that explains how the body burns calories during cardiovascular exercise in the most basic terms.

When we apply strength training, we are able to get the most out of this equation. This is for three reasons:

  1. YOU – Your body, for the most part, will remain constant. In fact, the heavier you are, the more calories you’re able to burn. This is why people will lose weight performing cardiovascular exercise, initially. Once the weight drops, you must either increase the duration, or raise the intensity.
  2. Effort – If the body lacks strength, it will be physically incapable of achieving the desired intensity necessary to burn calories in the most effective manner. The stronger someone is, the higher the intensity they are able to reach. This becomes important when one is using HIIT as a way to burn calories. (For more, read our Article Can You Handle HiIT?)
  3. Duration – Even if you increase the duration of your exercise, it is unlikely that you will be able to sustain the same caloric expenditure. This is due to the fact that your body will not be strong enough to match the same effort over the desired time. Aside from that, there are only so many hours in the day.

Below are two graphs depicting the relationship between Strength and Effort (Intensity).

Strength and Cardio

Now that you have an outline on why strength training is necessary to help our bodies burn calories, let us be clear on one thing:

Strength Training IS NOT done during Cardio Training. Period.

This doesn’t mean that it is ineffective to perform them on the same day or during the same session. What it does mean is that you should not perform them together. We’ve seen workout sessions advertised as being able to do both, but this is an extremely ineffective and inefficient way of doing things.

We already explained that being able to PUSH is extremely important for HIIT. Performing Strength movements in between cardiovascular bouts will slow our bodies ability to recover. It will also weaken our ability to PUSH to the desired intensity, and limit the intensity of all subsequent cardiovascular bouts. Aside from that, the Strength Training being performed in those sessions simply isn’t enough to reap the desired benefits of building lean muscle and strength.

Will this method work for a while? Sure! After all, if you go from doing nothing to something, you’ll definitely see an improvement. But if you don’t have the strength to raise your intensity, you’ll have to either gain weight, get stronger, or increase the duration of the exercise. We’ll let you decide which is the logical solution of the three.

Click HERE to learn how we program our Strength Training and Cardiovascular Training for the most efficient and effective workout available.


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