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Aerobic Exercises & Muscle Growth

A recent study from the FASEB journal found that the effects of aerobic activity prior to strength training may improve the effects of hypertrophy (i.e. muscle growth).

Aerobic activity increases capillarization which is simply the formation and development of a network of capillaries to a part of the body. This increase in blood vessels and subsequent blood flow has been linked to muscle growth. Thus, in connecting the dots, it’s theorized that by engaging in aerobic activity prior to lifting weights, individuals can better realize muscular gains.

From an anecdotal perspective, I’ve found a short bout of cardiovascular work prior to strength training helpful in a couple other ways as well…

1. Increased overall caloric burn. When you elevate your heart rate at the start of your workout, it tends to stay elevated throughout the duration of the training session. This in turn leads to a greater metabolic effect.

2. Feeling better while lifting weights. As I’ve stated before, motion is lotion and movement is medicine. By increasing blood flow, joints and muscles tend to move with more ease and less friction.

Whether or not muscle growth is more easily attained when preceded by cardiovascular work needs to be studied further, but preliminary science would suggest there are some real muscular benefits. Combine that with feeling better and burning more calories, adding 10-15 minutes of cardio prior to your strength workouts could be a game-changer to your fitness routine.