Weight Training Has “Cardio” Like Benefits

I’m just the messenger…so please don’t shoot. For full disclosure…I believe in doing cardio.
The following is text from a Facebook post…

“ Context: Endurance training elevates peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) signaling of mitochondrial adaptations for oxidative phosphorylation.

:muscle: not a #cardio exclusive!

Now, emerging evidence suggests that, like endurance training, resistance training also elicits profound effects on mitochondrial adaptations in skeletal muscle, which means that resistance training yields both strength and endurance phenotypes in myofibers, which has treatment value for the muscle loss and poor aerobic capacity in humans.

"Our review outlines a brief overview of muscle hypertrophic signals with resistance training and focused on the effects of resistance training on mitochondrial biogenesis and respiration in skeletal muscle, providing novel insights into the therapeutic strategy of resistance training for the metabolically dysfunctional individuals with declined mitochondrial function, the authors argue.”

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I swear, if you’re saying that me that lifting weights is cardio - I’m going to flip.

When i perform circuit training, i identify it to be cardio, :laughing: :rofl: :joy: :joy_cat:


People misinterpret cardio and/or aerobic exercise all the time. Does your weight lifting elevate your heart rate? If yes, it’s cardio but to what degree is more the question.


Is activation of that particular signaling path all that needs to happen to improve endurance, or is it just one piece of a very complex training adaptation? Hard to know what the practical implications of this observation are.

If heart rate mattered, you could scare someone into cardiovascular condition.
Better rethink that one

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Any kind of training would illicit endurance improvement in someone with “poor aerobic capacity.” However, no one uses resistance training to improve cardiovascular conditioning past even modest levels. All sports involving high levels of endurance necessitate structured cardiovascular conditioning.

Just because someone believes weights negate cardio doesn’t mean it is true. Ever since Arthur Jones declared cardio unnecessary, we have had one after another declare cardio as redundant for various false reasonings.

Dr. Doug McGuff tried to use science by way of the Kreb’s cycle to justify his false claims. After many years, has anyone used. his type of cardiovascular conditioning to achieve higher levels of cardiovascular conditioning? Of course not. Drew Baye is certainly not a good example.

If you told any well-known miler, that all he/she had to do is lift a few weights for his training endeavors, he/she would laugh at you.

Hmmm….and this last sentence of yours would raise the eyebrow of any credible sports scientist, whether they specialise in cardio research or not.
You have just used the well known and accepted principle of specificity to try and prove your point. This may work IF all we were talking about was “running gains”. But we are not. We are debating the idea of general cardio adaptations for the general population. Some of whom may balk at the idea of hopping on a cardio machine, or going outside for several bouts of sustained effort a week.
The study therefore MAY point to the fact that SOME adaptations are achievable even to the most devoted of “meathead” weight trainees.

My first sentence alluded to just that. However, there is a big jump from that, to replacing cardiovascular conditioning. That is why no one trains cardio with just weights. Lack of results. Better rethink that one

I don’t need to rethink that one. From its most literal definition cardio, look it up smart ass. Most lift weights for 30-60 minutes. The entire session most are in a heart rate that is moderately elevated. Thats cardio conditioning.

Looking at the literature, it seems that exercise can produce several kinds of mitochondrial adaptations:

  • Low intensity endurance training (zone 2) produces significant increase in mitochondrial mass and density. It also modestly increases mitochondrial respiration efficiency.

  • Low volume, high intensity sprint interval training increases mitochondrial respiration efficiency, but is less effective at increasing the mitochondrial mass and density.

  • Resistance training also increases mitochondrial respiration efficiency, but has no effect on mitochondrial mass, and actually can reduce mitochondrial density (because increases in muscle size from strength training effectively dilute the density of the existing mitochondria).

All of those adaptations will improve endurance. All likely involve the signaling pathway mentioned in the paper. But no single form of exercise does it all with optimal effectiveness.

= = =

And as a reminder, sometimes you can do too much of a good thing:


I disagree that weight training performed in a circuit style isn’t better (faster, safer) than any form of traditional “cardio”. Prove it to yourself: Find a vintage Nautilus Multi Exercise machine, fashion a way to perform hip belt squats, followed by negative chins and negative dips, each for 60 seconds, do this for 4 bouts (12 minutes) every 4 days and watch your endurance improve.


Sports specific cardio is not the same as a 60 year old doing cardio…you keep comparing the two

Name calling doesn’t win debates

Better rethink that one

This has already been studied

Cardiovascular conditioning easily trumps circuit weight training as to improvement of cardiovascular conditioning, no matter what Drew Baye states to the contrary.
There are large differences between cardiovascular conditioning and resistance training. These training modalities illicit different anatomical adaptations.

First I’m not debating you as I’m factually correct and second your “smart ass” comment was initiated first rather than being constructive. In summary you can pound sand for all I care.


I’ll bet none of the circuit training in the research was done like I described.

No form of weight training - heavy, circuit, walrus etc takes my heart rate above 100. Fast walking on an inclined treadmill reaches around 120, any form of running takes it to 120 and above.
I am not capable of blocks of 60 seconds of dips/chins, neither are many other people I know. This is a modality that is impractical for most.
Traditional cardio training is therefore the most practical way to train at an increased HR level, 120 plus is a good rule of thumb for zone 2 work and above.
The exception is high energy circuit exercises like burpees, squat thrusts etc which definately can be used to improve cardio fitness. I do not consider this true weight training.
No endurance athlete uses weight training specifically for cardio benefits. The closest they get to it are out of season circuits as I describe above.

This really surprises me. A hard set of any multi joint lower body movement easily gets my heart rate over 110 and often over 130-140 if the set is particularly challenging. And I also do quite a lot of traditional cardio per week – several hours of cycling at heart rates between 120 and 140 – so it isn’t that my overall conditioning is sorely lacking.


Same. The only thing that’s gets mine higher is cardio aerobic exercise like running, rowing, swimming etc which would be the best for true heart/lung improvement. However basic weight training is still cardio by basic definition unless your workout doesn’t elevate your heart rate which I find implausible for most.