Cardio training is generally gravitated to for its fat burning effectiveness. If we move more and sweat more, we’re likely to burn more calories and expend more energy using up our fat stores in the process. The most common response to ‘why cardio training?’ is that cardio training helps our bodies better deliver oxygen to the muscles, allowing our bodies greater overall function and stamina. However, as women over 50, the real benefit of cardio training is in its potential for improving longevity. By lowering inflammation and reducing the risk of chronic disease such as diabetes and cancer, cardio training is one of the most effective tools at our disposal. Not to mention cardio training’s positive influence on our cognitive function, increasing memory capacity and reducing cognitive decline.
The tandem partner to cardio training in your workout schedule will be strength training, favoured by bodybuilders for mass gain’s potential. As women over 50, a blown-out physique may not be high on the priority list, nevertheless strength training should be included in your routine for its overall quality of life improvements.
Strength training improves muscle function allowing us to carry out day to day tasks with ease, boosts our metabolic rate increasing fat burning potential and can help reduce pain associated with underuse of joints. If we feel sore and old, it may be because we’re not using our muscles enough and strength training can remedy this.
So, what happens when we combine the two?
STRENGTH TRAINING + CARDIO
The major benefit of adding some weights to your cardio workout is an increased potential for fat burning. With a weighted workout, we’re already increasing our metabolic rate so adding cardio into the mix will increase the difficulty and add more resistance, making us stronger in the process. The amount of energy required to take 10,000 steps, for example, is compounded with the addition of weights, meaning we use more energy and burn more calories. While this will be slightly harder than a standard walk, the benefits are worthwhile and best of all you can move at your own pace.
Combining strength training with cardio will also help offset mass muscle growth by promoting lean mass and strength rather than size.
TAKE IT AT YOUR OWN PACE
If a weight feels too heavy to lug around with you while you complete your workout, simply drop the weight size or remove it from the workout altogether until you feel confident to pick it back up again.
Start your workouts with a weight that feels comfortable to you and reassess as you move through your workout. You can always go up or down later.
There is also a greater pressure put on our joints with a combined strength and cardio workout, meaning extra caution should be taken when completing your workout. Make sure you are on a flat surface with supportive shoes that help cushion the joints, and again, if it feels like too much, ease off and reassess.
HOW OFTEN TO TRAIN
We should be aiming for a minimum of 150 minutes of cardio training per week with an additional 2 strength training sessions. These 2 strength sessions are where we can combine our cardio for maximum benefits. If you are feeling up to it, I think you’ll really enjoy this selection of combined cardio and weight training workouts or you may enjoy this 7-day challenge which has been designed to hit the recommended weekly exercise quota.
Including weights in your cardio sessions can help increase the overall effectiveness of the workout, giving us greater fat brining potential and helping us to get stronger in the process. That being said, adding too much too quick can have adverse effects. Practice caution when training in this way and seek the advice of your healthcare practitioner if you are unsure whether this kind of training is for you.