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Endurance/Cardio Training on a Muscle Group BEFORE Strength/Hypertrophy Training the Same Muscle Group

by (5775)
Updated about 22 hours ago
Created December 30, 2012 at 5:23 PM

I was recently listening to episode 1092 of Super Human Radio and they had NASA research scientist Per Tesch on the show discussing this. In summary, he claimed their results showed better results in training a muscle group for strength or hypertrophy when done AFTER working the same muscle(s) in a cardiovascular/endurance way just prior. For instance, something along the lines of a stair climber that would work the legs prior to leg pressing and squatting. You get the idea.

What are your thoughts on this?

I've tried it a few times since and noticed a few things. I've done some inclined walking on the treadmill (20% incline) prior to deadlifting and squatting. The incline walking, even at a moderate pace is definitely hitting the lower back and legs. Exactly what it does for the deadlift and squat. I've also heard before about Testosterone being elevated with a moderately-high intensity or high-work cardio routine, which would seemingly help someone then training for strength/hypertrophy later.

A few questions though.

I've also noticed that fatigue comes into play as well. The added benefits of any Test boost might be nullified if you're doing say 20-30 minutes of fairly high-intense cardio training before lifting. More often than not, you're not going to be able to lift as heavy or for as long. Second, I'm still not convinced about the body-specific or localization aspect of it. Does it really have enough merit to specify the muscle groups and have a drastic enough effect?

Sorry I don't have any links. If you Google "Per Tesch", you can find many of his research articles.

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66 · January 14, 2013 at 3:39 AM

Also, do your sets of squats BEFORE the dead lifts. You won't be able to dead lift as much as you would if squats were not in the workout. So be careful with the dead lifts especially. You will get tired quicker because of the squat sets.

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8014 · December 31, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Love SHR!! Just wish the website was a little less...insane. I have to warn people before I tell them about it, but the show itself is one of the absolute best.

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8574 · December 30, 2012 at 5:29 PM

+1 for Carl Lenore's show. Really superb!

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3 Answers

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66 · January 14, 2013 at 3:35 AM

My experience is anecdotal, but I know a lot of pro and olympic athletes would back it up. When training for strength increases if you do any near intense cardio with the same muscle groups for 20-30 minutes prior to intense strength sets it is detrimental to getting stronger. Especially with squats and dead lifts. Note (so you avoid back trouble): With squats and dead lifts, for strength, you first must obtain the required flexibility in your ankles, achilles tendons, hip flexors, quads, hamstrings and adductors, so you can do them in strict proper form, with core muscles properly supporting the spine. And practice squatting and dead lifting often with lighter weights (with this flexibility maintained always) so you pattern your neuromuscular system to always support your spine properly. Done this way you will never need a weight belt. Then crank it up slowly. Once you get in the 1.5x bodyweight range (and beyond) use low reps and plenty of rest between sets, in order to make strength improvements. And don't do this routines more than 2x weekly. Do not do near intense cardio of those muscle groups that same day or the next day. Also, you need to rest you nervous system the day after, as its recovery is critical.

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66 · January 14, 2013 at 3:39 AM

Also, do your sets of squats BEFORE the dead lifts. You won't be able to dead lift as much as you would if squats were not in the workout. So be careful with the dead lifts especially. You will get tired quicker because of the squat sets.

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20908 · December 31, 2012 at 1:15 AM

Yeah, this is a good way to get strong. Depending on my schedule I like to do my lifting post crossfit and when I can do that for a month or to I see great gains. I won't do lifting pre crossfit because that just undoes the lifting work and I've noticed losses that way. Depending on time I either only lift or only do crossfit or both crossfit then lift.

I could see this extended to the endurance side of things too, but I stay away from that since I don't think it's good for you to do endurance work more than a couple of times a year.

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1297 · December 30, 2012 at 6:22 PM

There's some evidence to support your hypothesis on Suppversity too.

But I think that what you say about high intensity cardio bears out my own experience. I think that if you are actually puffing whilst doing your cardio, then it is difficult to progress with the weights as you are effectively pre-fatigued.

In the end, however, it probably depends on your aims. If you want to get bigger/stronger keep the cardio low intensity or don't bother with it (beyond walking). If you have other ambitions you should tailor your workout accordingly.

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