Tip: Cardio and Gains

It's a delicate balance. Here's what you need to know about HIIT, LISS, and MISS.

Sure, cardio can be detrimental to lifting, but in some cases it can actually be beneficial – better work capacity allows you to do more sets during your workouts after all.

As I wrote in The Jogging Delusion, cardio only becomes an issue if you do shit-tons of it (and especially if that means jogging) and/or you're descended from Woody Allen's gene pool.

So if you like cardio and your lifting seems to be going well, enjoy! But if building muscle is an important goal for you, and those gains don't seem to come easy for you, then keep the cardio to a low roar, at least for the time being.

While we're at it, here are a few additional thoughts about cardio:

  • Cardio isn't mandatory for good cardiovascular health, especially if you're generally active. Sure, it can be beneficial, but lots of people live long, healthy, and happy lives without ever doing cardio.
  • There are cardiovascular benefits to lifting itself, especially if you do high reps and/or limit rest durations between sets.
  • People tend to over-value MISS (Medium Intensity Steady State) cardio and undervalue both HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) cardio. In English, that means that sprints and long walks are great, but the middle ground (jogging) is where you'll want to spend the least of your time.
Charles Staley is an accomplished strength coach who specializes in helping older athletes reclaim their physicality and vitality. At age 56, Charles is leaner than ever, injury free, and in his lifetime best shape. His PRs include a 400-pound squat, 510-pound deadlift, and a 17 chin-up max. Follow Charles Staley on Facebook