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Should Powerlifters Incorporate Cardio Exercises Into Their Training?

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On the surface level, it’s easy to see why people think cardio exercises and powerlifting don’t really go hand in hand.

Cardio will help you shed fat and be healthier in your daily life, but on the other hand, spending energy on cardio exercises may mean spending less time on just getting stronger. If you end up tiring yourself too much from doing cardio exercises, you may even end up taking away recovery time from your powerlifting training.

But incorporating a form of cardio complementary to your lifting can have some pretty good benefits – and that’s probably why a lot of powerlifting cycles include cardio as a necessary training component.

powerlifting and cardio?

Powerlifting is all about...

Powerlifting’s primary objective is to become stronger. Lift the maximal weight in low-rep, high-intensity sets and progressively overload your muscles to get stronger. So cardio can seem a bit counterintuitive, but again, it’s all about finding a compatible cardio regimen to complement your powerlifting training..

Compatible cardio

There are many cardio exercises that are not compatible with powerlifting, but there are a few that are – similar to powerlifting, you’ll want to do cardio exercises that are all about short bursts of explosive energy, like sprinting.

Sprinting is a great exercise to implement in your powerlifting routine, as it helps condition your body for short bursts of explosive and strenuous activity, and it helps improve your fast-twitch muscle response. Be sure to use an interval system, to condition yourself better for these short but explosive bursts of action.

gunsmith fitness powerlifting

Mix it up

Do sprints on your rest days from powerlifting, making sure to leave one day off for rest. So if you’re lifting on days 1 and 2, and resting on 3, incorporate interval sprinting on day 3. If you’re lifting again on days 4 and 5, and resting on 6 (and 7), incorporate interval sprinting on day 6, and leave day 7 off to rest and recover before starting your week again.

Try Supersets

Supersets are a great way to add some cardio exercise to your routine, without sacrificing the muscle-building aspects of weightlifting.

Supersets are a way of stacking together different exercises back-to-back, rather than giving your body a rest period between sets.

The advantage of doing supersets is that if performed properly, they can really get your heart rate up. 

Don’t take away too much attention from your powerlifting schedule

Be mindful that the more energy you spend on cardio, the less energy you’ll have for powerlifting – and that you’re only incorporating cardio exercises complementary to powerlifting.

That means if you overextend yourself doing cardio exercises like sprinting, you’ll need more recovery time, and a powerlifting routine by itself is already very demanding.

Add complementary cardio carefully – if you feel yourself too fatigued the next, only do cardio on one rest day, as opposed to two.

Benefits of cardio exercises

Some of the more obvious benefits to cardio:

  • Regularly engaging in cardiovascular activity improves
  • Lowers risk of heart disease
  • Burns fat and calories
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Decrease delayed-onset muscle soreness or DOMS
  • The squat, bench press, and deadlift can take a toll on your joints.

Squats, bench presses, and deadlifts can take a toll on your joints especially your knees. Check out our Extreme Knee Sleeves that are designed to support and protect your knees so you don’t overextend them – these sleeves also help keep your muscles warm while allowing flexibility and movement. For other gear and accessories to help you stay injury-free (and let’s face it, to look cooler), check out our shop!

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