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Cardio & Fat loss, Where are We Going WRONG!

Cardio and fat loss

The Scientific evidence behind post-workout Cardiovascular Training.

I am an individual who does combination workout sessions, combining a run and a gym session as a part of my daily regimen. So this intense workout is supposed to help me out with extra bulk and strength, right? Nope, it won’t necessarily! This workout will have reduced effects in terms of muscle gains and strength in general. This is due to a phenomenon called the interference effect.

cardio and fat loss


The interference effect is a seldom known phenomenon, which occurs when strength training is paired with endurance exercises, which is also known as concurrent training. One conclusion of the concurrent training is that it is negatively associated with strength gains when combined with aerobic or endurance exercises. Ideally, the body is trying to adapt to both forms of exercise. This is because the adaptations to both types of exercises are very inconsistent.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association, strength training will lead to:

  • Reduction in mitochondrial density and very minute increases in the oxidative enzymes. On the other hand, endurance/aerobic training will induce an increase in the mitochondrial content, citric acid enzymes, and even the oxidative capacity of the person. So ideally, a combination of these exercises should have a synergistic effect with respect to the person’s athletic abilities and strength.
  • However, evidence according to the NCBI states that this concurrent training regimen has attenuated gains in muscle mass, power, and strength when compared to resistance exercises alone.

This antagonistic effect is because of the fact that your body uses up glycogen stored in the body. Let us explain to you the step by step process:

  • When you perform strength training exercises such as weights, your body uses up glycogen reserves faster and requires more energy compared to what you require, when performing endurance exercises such as cardio.
  • So, after a cardio exercise, if an individual immediately resorts to strength training or weight exercises, the glycogen reserves of that individual would have already been depleted, and he/she would not able to do a weight training session to his/her maximum potential.
  • This leads to muscle fatigue, and therefore a degraded performance attenuates workout results.
    • Another major contributing factor with respect to this antagonistic effect is different enzymes that are synthesized with both these types of exercises. Let us understand more about it.

The two enzymes related to muscle gains and fat loss are mTOR and mAMPK respectively. So when you do weight training, it is the mTOR enzymes that are synthesized, which help in cell growth and protein synthesis, ultimately leading to muscle building.

On the other hand, endurance exercises trigger the synthesis of mAMPK enzyme, which plays a role in cellular energy homeostasis, to activate glucose and fatty acid uptake, which helps in fat loss.

cardio and fat loss

Now, these enzymes don’t work that great in tandem with each other and interfere with each other’s signaling via their respective pathways (mTOR and mAMPK).

 So what do you do in such cases?

One option would be preparing your daily regimen in a way that you focus on endurance exercises in the morning and weight training in the evening so that there is a recovery gap between your workouts. However, due to very busy schedules, people often are not able to dedicate time for workouts, two times a day. Therefore, for such people, the other thing they can do is, swap the order of the exercises. Just repeat cardio after the weight training. This way they can build muscle mass more efficiently, which will increase metabolism and in turn, will lead to fat loss.

The best way to check the interference effect is to look into what you expect out of an exercise.

cardio and fat loss


For example, if you play a sport that requires you to perform both endurance and strength training, there is no escaping it. In such cases, you can combat the effect using the above-mentioned cases. This is where prescribing exercises becomes important and challenging at the same time, as it is vital for the athlete. Every coach should know their client’s requirements and find out a way to combat this effect. There are a lot of research studies on the same with respect to how to combat the interference effect. Regardless, a properly executed workout and diet plan with an end goal of progressive overload is expected to provide desired results.

This article is contributed by the Fitnastic team!

About Fitnastic: Fitnastic was founded in January 2020 with the aim to help individuals go through their fitness obstacles and transform them into stronger, fitter, and more confident individuals. Rishi Nagar being the founder and Ojas Bhatt being the Co-Founder, believe in the ideology that exercise and nutrition are the utmost priority for healthy well-being.

At Fitnastic, they craft an individual’s well-being by not only providing customized diet plans and live training/training routines, but also providing conversations with doctors on various health issues, easy-to-make healthy recipes & also educate people by providing scientific knowledge about different dieting patterns, herbs, and physiological functions of the human system.

Because, Fitness is not a joke!

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