In the cardio section of the gym (with all the treadmills, bikes and ellipticals), you’ll find mostly women. And in the strength training area (with various machines and free weights), you’ll see mostly men. But this isn’t a segregation enforced by gym policies or rules – but rather, it’s a segregation enforced by our own fitness misconceptions.
WHY MEN NEED CARDIO
Let’s face it: Men don’t like doing cardio. Lifting weights is one thing, but running or sprinting on a treadmill is a different beast entirely. But in actuality, men do need cardio.
The big myth is that you can’t build muscle and include cardio in your workout. I hear this all the time:
I want to get big. That’s why I don’t do any cardio. I don’t want to lose my muscle gains or strength.
The myth that all cardio cannibalizes muscle is pervasive – and untrue. The truth is, even professional bodybuilders do cardio.
Why? Because cardio has a number of benefits that all men can use. Cardio:
- Strengthens your heart and improves overall heart health.
- Decreases gym recovery time.
- Can increase the body’s metabolism.
- Improves endurance.
- Increases bone density.
- Results in better sleep and more energy.
- Reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol and more.
It’s true that long, drawn-out cardio sessions can lead to muscle loss. Because of this, it’s recommended that cardio sessions don’t exceed 45 minutes. My cardio, for example, is limited to 15 – 25 minutes per day. I alternate between running at a steady pace on one day and then doing intervals on the next.
It’s important that all people – regardless of gender – incorporate cardiovascular exercise into their workouts.
WHY WOMEN NEED STRENGTH TRAINING
While most women get plenty of cardio, they often shy away from the weight room. Beyond the intimidation factor of working with free weights, most women avoid strength training because they don’t want to become bulky or overly muscular.
Whatever your gender, there’s no reason to fear becoming too muscular. In actuality, it takes a tremendous amount of time, know-how, strategy and effort to develop the massive physiques that you see on bodybuilding magazines. It doesn’t just happen – and it definitely doesn’t happen overnight. I often remind clients that once they build a desired amount of muscle, they can simply stop progressing to heavier weights and the muscle gains will stop. Yes, it’s that simple.
But it’s not just about looking a certain way. Strength training:
- Prevents, stops and reverses the muscle loss that we experience as we age.
- Improves performance of everyday tasks (i.e., carrying the groceries) with increased strength.
- Reduces the risk of injury.
- Improves posture and balance.
- Lowers the risk of diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer and more.
- Burns calories and boosts your metabolism.
Strength training is a good thing for men and women. And if you’re not incorporating it into your workout, then you’re cutting your results short.
Break the glass wall that divides your gym. There’s cardio and strength training equipment in your gym for a reason: Any effective workout uses both.