Are you tired of spending hours in the gym and not seeing much in return? We all have things to get done outside of our fitness life. Sad fact of life: no matter how much you love working out and being in the gym, it’s simply not practical to spend hours upon hours exercising every day. Not to mention, many people already lead busy, stressful lives outside of their fitness regimen and they need to get as much done as possible in a small time-frame when they hit the gym.
So this begs the question, “How do we do our workouts so they are as efficient as possible?” A term often used to refer to workout efficiency is training economy. Essentially, the goal (especially for those with busy schedules) should be to minimize wasted time in the gym while still allowing for an optimal training session.
It’s not uncommon to see people just stand around and chat for a good hour while they workout, which is time that could rather be spent doing something productive. This is where the concept of concurrent training comes in to play. Let’s take a look at the rather compelling research findings on concurrent training and how you can implement it into your exercise regimen to maximize your training economy.
CONCURRENT TRAINING EXPLAINED
It seems like the fitness industry is somewhat dichotomous, in that people vehemently push that you should only lift weights and rarely do cardio, or they believe cardio should be emphasized heavily or lifting. Reality is, for an ideal figure, you’re going to need both cardio and resistance training. This is where concurrent training comes into play.
In a nutshell, concurrent training is when one combines both cardio and resistance training into the same session. That may not seem like anything new or innovative, but the manner in which you combine these two forms of exercise can actually have drastic ramifications on results (e.g. fat loss, muscle growth, strength, etc.). We will dive m ore into how to combine cardio and resistance training for optimal results shortly.
MUTUAL BENEFITS OF CARDIO & RESISTANCE TRAINING
The beauty of not isolating your workouts into either solely resistance training or cardio is that you get the best of both worlds, especially when you combine the two. You see, research has shown that resistance training significantly enhances fat loss from cardio.1 Basically, concurrent training (combining resistance and endurance training) greatly enhances the metabolic effects of each mode of training on their own. Thus, you get more fat-loss from cardio when you combine it with weight training, and in turn, your resistance training improves as well.
Moreover, most females feel that the best way to shape their body and achieve a more toned look is to spend hours slaving away on the treadmill and no (intense) weight training. The reality is that the best way to “bring out your curves” is to build strength and muscle, while keeping a sufficient amount of cardio in your regimen for fat loss.
If all you do is constantly endure long bouts of low/moderate intensity cardio than you’re actually going to reduce your metabolic rate and gradually lose muscle mass. Eventually, you will have lowered your body-weight but increased your body-fat percentage and you will look “skinny-fat.” Trust me, skinny-fat is not an appealing look.
Don’t give in to the idea that you need to just be a cardio bunny for a toned, shapely figure. The more resistance training you incorporate, the more shapely your body will be, and the strength you gain will empower you. Oh, and no, you will not get bulky just because you lift heavy/intensely; that myth needs to die.
HOW-TO: CONCURRENT TRAINING DONE CORRECTLY
There are two preferred methods of concurrent training that I will outline in this section. These workout templates are based on research that has found that doing cardio before resistance training tends to be unfavorable in terms of endocrine response to exercise and inhibiting capacity to lift weights.2
Moreover, the purpose of these workouts, as iterated earlier, is to maximize your time in the gym without sacrificing results. Therefore, the goal is to complete these in one hour (or less).
Example Back Workout A: Resistance Training followed-up by Cardio
Total Resistance Training Time (Approximately): 30-35 minutes
Follow-Up with 25-30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio on a machine of your choosing
Total Workout Time (Approximately): 45-50 minutes
Note: This workout is less time-consuming but will be slightly more challenging since your rest periods are substituted for low/moderate-intensity cardio. However, this is a great option to get a sufficient concurrent training session in when time is limited.
There you have it; a brief look at the ways you can get more bang for your buck in the gym and stop wasting hours standing around in-between sets. Research continues to show that concurrent training is the best way to go for overall performance and physique enhancement; it’s just a matter of implementing them in the right fashion to get the best of both worlds.
Give either/both of these workout templates a shot and you’re sure to notice that exercise doesn’t have to be excessively time consuming for optimal results. It’s not the time you put in that matters, it’s what you put in the time