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Cardio vs. Muscle Gain: Can You Really Have Both?

Cardio vs. Muscle Gain: Can You Really Have Both?

Hybrid training is becoming growingly popular in 2024 and this has come with a lot of question marks. In this blog we will explore the benefits of doing cardio alongside strength training and breakdown whether or not you can actually build muscle while doing both.

The effect of cardio on the body

It is important to understand that simply doing cardio won't burn muscle. Your nutritional intake will be the reason your lose / add size. Cardio is tool that can be used to create a healthier lifestyle as it improves heart health and other benefits such as cognitive function.

Implementing cardio is a fitness routine will mean your body burns more calories and you will therefore need to increase the amount that you are eating if you want to maintain or add size.

The benefits of cardio for muscle growth

Including cardio in your routine can actually be beneficial for building muscle. Below you can see some of the benefits of cardio when it comes to building muscle.

  • Improved breathing throughout sets
  • Improve recovery time
  • Spikes appetite which can beneficial for staying in a calorie surplus
  • Improves heart health
  • Improve energy levels

What is the best cardio for muscle growth?

Cardio should not actually be seen as a way to build muscle but a way to improve overall health and fitness. There are a few things to take into consideration when deciding what cardio routine to do while trying to build muscle. These are:

  • How demanding is the cardio / will doing it affect the quality of your resistance training
  • Do you actually enjoy the cardio / is it sustainable
  • Does the cardio still allow you to prioritise resistance training 


Strategies for Building Muscle While Doing Cardio

If your goal is to build muscle while incorporating cardio into your routine, here are some effective strategies to consider:

  1. Focus on Nutrition: Ensure you're consuming enough calories and protein to support muscle growth. Focus on nutrient-dense foods, including lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

  2. Resistance Training: Place emphasis on resistance training to stimulate muscle growth. Incorporate compound exercises that target multiple muscle groups, such as squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and rows.

  3. Interval Training: Incorporate high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into your cardio routine. HIIT combines short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest or lower-intensity recovery. This can help preserve muscle mass while improving cardiovascular fitness and calorie burning.

  4. Monitor Recovery: Pay attention to your body's signals and prioritize adequate rest and recovery between workouts. Ensure you're getting enough sleep, managing stress levels, and allowing muscles time to repair and grow.

  5. Progressive Overload: Continuously challenge your muscles by progressively increasing the intensity, volume, or resistance of your workouts over time. This principle of progressive overload is essential for stimulating muscle growth and adaptation.


In conclusion, while the relationship between cardio and muscle building may seem complex, it's entirely possible to build muscle while incorporating cardio into your fitness routine. By adopting a balanced approach, prioritising nutrition, and implementing effective training strategies, you can achieve your goals of both muscle growth and cardiovascular fitness. Remember, consistency and patience are key, so stay dedicated to your fitness journey and embrace the synergy between cardio and strength training for optimal results.

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Posted 19 Apr 2024