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Building muscle is a top goal for many men who work out at the gym, and it’s no easy feat. Often, when muscle growth is on the agenda, a strict program needs to be followed. A program that’s equal parts active training, nutrition and recovery. But when it comes to the cardio to strength training ratio, workouts can quickly become confusing.

Is “gym bro’ culture true; does cardio kill gains? Can a strength only program achieve muscle growth? And, are cardio and resistance workouts compatible when aiming for a ripped physique? Let’s find out.

Does cardio kill gains?

We’re calling it here and now; the statement that cardio kills gains is a fitness myth. Cardio, running and HIIT workouts won’t necessarily hinder muscle growth if you’re training smart. The key is to ensure your cardio training doesn’t inhibit your capacity to perform strength training. So, while your focus is muscle growth, try to limit your cardio sessions to 2-3 times each week, ensuring they aren’t causing you to burn out. If you’re feeling lethargic during your strength sessions, reassess the situation and tweak as necessary.

Are cardio and resistance workouts compatible for muscle growth?

Absolutely! While everybody responds differently to specific workouts, generally there are three ways cardio can enhance strength training to achieve muscle growth.

  1. Cardio increases blood flow, helping muscles to recover in what’s known as ‘active recovery’
  2. Cardio improves your body’s metabolic response to food
  3. Cardio helps to maintain your conditioning

Remember, the most important thing is to avoid letting cardio interfere with your strength workouts. To build muscle via hypertrophy, you need to lift heavy weights that place your muscles under tension for 1-2 minutes. We’re talking about sets of 12-15 reps. If your muscles are feeling fatigued before you’re max-ing out, it’s time to scale back on the cardio.

Can a strength only program still achieve muscle growth?

If you’re not a big fan of cardio, it’s completely possible to build muscle through a strength only program. The key here is to ensure adequate recovery. When you’re focused on building muscle, the recovery phase is where the magic happens; muscles need rest to repair and regrow. Avoid overtraining, take a break, and watch those biceps grow.

Find out the best post workout foods that will help you build muscle and recover faster.