WILL CARDIO RUIN YOUR STRENGTH AND HYPERTROPHY GAINS?


Cardio is often avoided by powerlifters and even bodybuilders at times for fear that it will diminish results in strength and hypertrophy. The concern is based on a phenomena called the interference effect that occurs when pairing strength training and endurance training together. This pairing is thought to impede directed adaptation and down regulate adaptive signalling for strength and hypertrophy (1). On the surface it seem pretty clear cut, avoid cardio or you risk losing out on potential results. But there are several considerations to take into account before we can make legitimate recommendations on this.

Not all cardiovascular training is the same. There is a big difference between doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) and doing LISS (low intensity steady state). What is the frequency and duration of the cardio? Is it occurring before training, after training or on alternate days? Even where you are in your contest or meet prep is an important factor to consider. Beyond that, the modality you select may also play a role in your ability to recover. For example stair climbing may be more fatiguing than walking on a treadmill with an incline.

To make the best decision we need to be clear on our objective when implementing cardio. In most cases it’s for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. To decrease body fat

  2. To increase wok capacity