Running · Weightlifting

Weightlifting for Cardio Bunnies

Somewhere between marathon running and powerlifting an idea generated that in order to succeed at one, you have to drop the other. Truth is, until you get to competition levels where you have to min-max your training regimen for top results, weights and cardio actually benefit each other.

Generalizations are a dangerous thing, but I’m going to assume anyone who lifts weights regularly at least has some program they’re following, and also understands semi regular cardio is great for your heart, a muscle you can’t smash with iron until it grows. This is not cardio for weightlifters.

This is Weightlifting for Cardio Bunnies.
More bad generalizations, but this is aimed at the ladies.

First things first, no, lifting will not make you bulky or ‘manly’. The amount of time and dedication required to build actual ‘bulky’ muscle is no accident – its a focused long term goal. I will bet an entire paycheck that you wont wake up looking like a dude.

Now, lets look at your current routine. Lots of running, and that’s about it right?

I bet your legs look great.

But maybe your tummy isn’t as tight as you thought it’d be, and your arms look skinny. After a while your run times star to plateau and even though you’re logging a bunch of distance and have great endurance you still don’t look like the models in your fitspo!

A little secret: the models in your fitspo aren’t just running. They’re lifting weights.

There are generally two ways to go about things: Low weight with high reps, or high weight with low reps. Those in the bodybuilding and powerlifting communities all have an opinion and preference, but to simplify for the bunnies; Building muscle all comes down to tension over time. As long as you wear yourself to the point of fatigue it doesn’t matter if you can do 20lbs for 20 reps or 40lbs for 8.

If you’re looking to cut down some time on your best mile, start from your core. A strong core is the base for a strong body. Everything that moves eventually requires your abs for stability. This doesn’t actually require much weightlifting, just bodyweight exercises targeting your core. My favorites are leg raises, planks, and oblique dips, but that’s not even a fraction of all there is to choose from.

Muscles in this group aren’t going to grow visibly like your arms and legs will, but you’ll feel the strength in everything you do. Visible abs depend more on your bodyfat% than the strength they produce.

The biggest neglect in running will be your arms. They don’t do much besides flap around while your legs carry you. Training your arms wont benefit your running very much, but it will be a nice mark of pride when you show off in strapless dresses. For those interested in aesthetic gains instead of strength, a set of adjustable dumbbells would be enough. Targeting the shoulders with raises, presses, and rows will help give a visual balance to your body.

Most people find themselves exhausted after a day of cardio, so adding in an arm routine will be the easiest to incorporate without worrying about over training your legs. Curls, raises, presses, most of these can all be done sitting as well. Kick back after your run and bust out a few dumbbell reps in front of your TV show, you’ll have great arms in no time.

If running is your main sport, you probably already have rockin’ legs. In order to get the best benefit for running, you’re going to want to isolate train your glutes. Good news, it’ll make your butt grow!! Bad news, if you’re not used to isolation training you might have a hard time sitting down for a day or two.. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is a real thing, and it’s a bitch, but it lets you know its working.

As much as everyone praises squats for their glute benefit, they’re not the best. Don’t skip them though, because proper squats are a skill that will carry you into a long life so no one else has to carry you. The best thing you can add to squats are Glute Bridges and Split Squats. Those’ll really get your butt burning.


Most supplement exercises can be performed with bodyweight, or light dumbbells. All of them can have increasingly heavier weights added to them. If you’re interested in strength gains, there are plenty of beginner weightlifting resources to get you started on the good ol’ google.

The most important thing to take away that adding weight training to your routine will add muscle to your frame, which adds to your BMR, which means you can eat more. And why spend hours running if its not to eat more??


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