How To Incorporate Cardio Into Your Strength Program

Hey there! Hopefully, you've just completed reading our two articles on why and how you should resistance train with barbells. So there shouldn't be any roadblocks to your successful start. 

But now you're wondering if you need to stop doing other forms of exercise, so it doesn't impede on your gains. Or maybe you just came across this article because you were wondering how to get strong but also stay fit. If that's the case, then I suggest finishing this article and then reading this one followed by this one. 

A common myth surrounding strength training is that you need to cease all conditioning and cardio to get as strong as possible. Maybe you enjoy running, Crossfit, Zumba, swimming, hiking, or any other type of conditioning. By all means, continue to do it. If your goal is to get stronger with no plans to compete in strongman or powerlifting, then it's okay to continue to do the conditioning that you love. 

Incorporating conditioning into your structured training schedule is essential for a few reasons, but the three most relevant to our readers include:


Cardiovascular fitness

Fat loss

Being strong and being fit are not the same thing. 

Characteristics of being physically fit include being strong, having good cardiovascular fitness, range of motion, a healthy body composition, and muscular endurance. Together, these characteristics help you maintain your function and quality of life. 

We aren't here to tell you to cease all cardio in the name of muscular strength and size. We know how important it is to maintain these characteristics of fitness, as well as do things you enjoy. But, if you do want to focus on optimizing your strength while including cardio, we recommend you make some scheduling adjustments to reduce overtraining and risk of injury. 

Allow yourself two rest days per week and only train one time per day. Sorry, we know you were super excited to do two-a-days even though you've been pushing off starting for a year. Go big or go home, right? No. Injuries happen when your body is exposed to too much, too soon, or too fast. The way we recommend structuring strength training with conditioning is as follows:

  • On any given day strength train first and end the session with conditioning. The total time for any given workout should not exceed 2 hours maximum. 

  • Save your longer conditioning sessions for after your final day of strength training and allow 1-2 days before you start your new training week.

  • Incorporate moderate intensity conditioning of up to 45 minutes 1-2 times during the training week if you're not adding conditioning to the end of a training session. 

What this may end up looking like if you're following the traditional 3-day Starting Strength Novice Linear Progression that we outlined at our last article is as follows:

How To Incorporate Cardio Into Your Strength Program

How To Incorporate Cardio Into Your Strength Program

So keep on doing your conditioning, cardio, or hobbies. Let’s be strong and fit!