Fitness Fact or False?

But it gets my heart rate up so ISN’T that cardio”?!


The aerobic base + cardio questions are still rolling in and this is something I’ve seen coming up a lot recently.

When it comes to fitness we need to be okay with cardio being cardio. Lifting being strength. And mixed Modes of fitness being mixed modes. Not one is better than the other. All are important. And if you’re moving just to move or getting SOMETHING in I don’t care what it is.

Cardio Defined:

“Rhythmic, continuous and performed with large muscles of the body. These exercises include such activities as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, hiking, stair climbing, rope jumping, cross-country skiing, skating, rowing and dancing. 

The goal is to exercise for at least 10 consecutive minutes at a moderate to vigorous intensity level.” – ACSM

Having an elevated heart rate does not make something cardio. We see this a lot with lifting. Doing cardio before your lift to get your heart rate up or elevate intensity likely will take back from your strength potential that day that be extra boosting.

Our heart rate can elevate with lifting or similar for many reasons. And lifting DOESNT have a 0 sun addition to our cardiovascular health. It is better than no exercise for that — absolutely. But it is not the same as specific cardio.

Lifting & cardio work on different pathways in our bodies resulting in different adaptations. A high heart rate isn’t what triggers these vs not. And this is a good thing, we don’t want our lifting stimulating our aerobic pathways.

They’re just — different.

If possible we want to hit the minimum exercise guidelines of 150 min of moderate or 70 min vigorous activity across the week of cardiovascular activity. Personally my bias is a mix of low aerobic and high harder intensity stuff (like sprints, HIIT, HIFT, CrossFit, hard conditioning).

Yes — even my lifting friends 😉

But cardio is a continuous contraction based output. Lifting will use your aerobic systems for recovery. CrossFit will use your aerobic systems. But you need to develop that too with cardio activity.

You don’t have to run. There are 101 ways to do cardio. It doesn’t have to kill your gains. And yes it is important.

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Hey, I'm Lyss!

I’m Exercise Physiologist, sports nutritionist, weight lifter, and ultra runner. I am here to bring science to your training in a no-nonsense way. I have helped thousands of women crush big lifting goals, cross race finish lines, and even do both. I’m here to help you do the same!

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Exercise Scientist, ultra runner, lifter, human.