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Does cardio training kill your gains? In this video, I’m going to show you how to approach your cardiovascular workouts so that you can get this all important work done without compromising your gains you’ve made in the gym. To illustrate this point, it’s important to first distinguish between the types of gains we are talking about. Strength is one of the most sought after assets one can gain from their workouts. That said, combining strength work with conditioning or cardio work is a big mistake and can be seen with just simple test.
Using the pullup exercise, we can see just how impactful a small amount of conditioning work can be to the output of the back muscles during the exercise. To start, perform a set of pullups fresh and see how many you can do to failure. It doesn’t matter when you do them but you should try to do them when you are most rested to get a true number. Be sure to go all the way down and get up as far as you can to get your chin up over the bar on every rep.
Note how many pullups you performed and then call it a day. Return to the gym the following day or even the day after and this time, before doing your set of pullups to failure, start with a simple set of 40-50 cone hops as shown in the video. This simple test of anaerobic power endurance is enough to cause some fatigue in the legs and more importantly, demand an increase in blood flow to the working legs during the movement. The blood is increased here in order to help attempt and oxygenate the working muscles as much as they can during this albeit anaerobic exercise, but also to help aid in the removal of the metabolites produce by muscular contraction that make continued work very difficult.
As soon as you are done with the jumps you want to get back up on the pullup bar and aim to complete another fresh set of pullups to failure. I say fresh because while your body may be feeling a bit fatigued from the jumping, your lats should be unaffected since they were no used at all in the jumping. From here, you should quickly notice that you just don’t feel as strong as you did the last time you did this. Why is this? Because your body will never be able to serve all of its masters well. While it may be able to redirect blood flow to the now working lats, it simply can’t do it as efficiently as it could had the muscles of the legs not already been drawing on the demands as well.
Because of this, the muscles in the lats will fatigue much faster. Attempting to increase your strength in this capacity is not going to be effective. You will never see top end increases in your muscular strength output and any gains in strength that you may have made to that point will be diminished by your existing fatigue. That makes improvements in strength nearly impossible if you choose to train this way.
If you are seeking strength gains then you should always aim to complete your cardio work on a day separate from your strength work. At the very least, if this is not possible, you can do your cardio work after you have already completed your strength exercises. It is simply not a good idea to try and bounce back and forth between exercises done with the purpose of increasing your strength while blitzing your body with conditioning movements as well.
If muscle hypertrophy and muscle gains are your goal on the other hand, then training like this may actually help you to make more functional gains. This is because you can still build muscle by simply reaching overload. What may be a lower threshold is still an overload as perceived by the body and therefore capable of igniting a hypertrophic response while demanding your body do this in a fatigued state. This is a more athletic way of taxing your body and ultimately a more realistic way.
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