cardio vs strength training



A common question asked over the years, and a question I asked when I was struggling to reach my goals.


We’ve all been a beginner in the gym at some point, even those people who look like they were born in the gym – they had to start somewhere.


These questions are asked all the time and the best answer we can always give with anything fitness & health related is…….




Whilst it does absolutely depend on the individual, that’s not going to be very helpful to those who read this, so for the purpose of this blog, I will be a little more definitive and less annoying.

If your goal is to get better at the cardio option of your choice, lets say running for example – then you’ll want to prioritise the frequency and intensity of your running over strength training if you cannot do them separately.


The same goes for strength training. If your primary goal is to gain muscle and/or strength (its the same thing) – then you’ll want to prioritise this over your cardio routine.


Simply, if you go in to a strength training session after some serious cardio – you’re going to be a lot weaker than if you’re rested.


This will mean you’ll lift less weight which equals less volume over time = less strength gains/muscle gains.



I’ve been cycling for years and as of recently started running training for a couple of 10km’s events and the HYROX UK which is on Saturday.


I’ve been trying to run a couple of times per week, 1-2 x 5km runs and 1 x 10km run where I can.


Cycling has been put to the back of the queue and I’ve only cycled the odd occasion in the week, mountain biking on the weekend.


Strength Training hasn’t been my priority, I am happy with the amount of muscle and strength I have, so my goal is to get better at running recently.


I have made time for myself to run BEFORE I strength train if I am short on time OR I split the sessions out.


If I go in to a strength training session after a decent run – I know I’m not going to be able to lift as much, but I am at peace with that.



If you’re someone who is trying to get in outrageous shape, focus more on strength training. Cardio isn’t going to have as much of an impact on your physique as we all would want and hope it to sadly.


It also won’t build muscle really at all, especially if you compare with strength training.


Cycling will help build your quads and hamstrings, but not much else. 


Running won’t really build any significant muscle anywhere.


Use cardio for what its meant for – fitness for mind & body, to also to assist with your overall capacity to do more long term.


Remember, its not special for fat loss as it doesn’t really have a big impact at all.


If you can split your sessions out, that’s definitely going to be more effective to get better at both than trying to pin them together in the same session.


Ultimately, do what you can when you can and try not to sweat the small stuff.


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