This is a very interesting subject to say the least. There is different takes on this and varying opinion on each side. So I humbly offer my own opinion on the matter so lets get into the meat of the subject. What is cardio? Cardio is any activity that gets your heart rate up around the 50-80% range. So yes that means running, cycling, swimming, rowing and of course lifting weights. We all know lifting weights done properly with the correct program can help build muscle but lets take a deeper look at what this all means.

First lets take a look at what most people consider cardio.

Long duration cardio 20 mins plus on a treadmill, outside, cycling, rowing, skating etc is what would be considered by the masses a cardiovascular activity. But why are people doing this? The answer is simple for most it’s to do with weight loss. Yes, with a controlled diet and structured program they will lose weight, this is one of the benefits of cardio training. There is something else going on though. Can you guess what it is? The heart is one of the most important MUSCLES in your body, cardiovascular training helps develop a stronger heart muscle building it up helping you in the long run and thats just one of many benefits of cardiovascular training. So in this occasion the answer to “is there such a thing as muscle building cardio?” is yes it is building the muscle of the heart.


Lets now look at the other side of the coin weightlifting.

We all know lifting weights can build muscle, but can it be considered a form of cardio. Let’s look at the evidence. When you lift weights with the right intensity to create muscle stimulus for growth, from experience I know from the feeling that my heart and cardiovascular system is working hard. I’m breathing heavier, the heart is pumping faster, and this suggests that you have reached the end of aerobic system and are now stepping into the anaerobic system. This means working without free oxygen to the muscles. I have worn heart rate monitors in study of this and yes the heart rate would be in the range to be considered cardiovascular. Now this may seem a bit confusing to the average person, but it’s just a way of describing the feeling you get more scientifically, most definitely the heart is working it’s a crossover of cardiovascular activity due to the muscles being stimulated. Muscles can be built this way dependent on other variables so you could consider this a form of cardio and then once again the answer to the question is yes.

muscle cardio2

We all know any good muscle building program or otherwise should have elements of cardiovascular training and weightlifting. You need both to achieve most goals. Тhere are always exceptions, but if we take a look at athletes today, you can see what happens when you train different spectrums. Take a look at any 100 m sprinter – they are lean and muscular. Theiр training consists of lots of sprinting of course and a complimentary weight lifting program – the combination of both is what creates the bigger more explosive muscles on the sprinter’s body. It’s the combination of both creating the muscles needed to achieve the task at hand.

Lets look at the other spectrum the long distance runner.

The long distance runner’s body is usually very lean, almost thin looking but don’t let that fool you – they have developed their muscles, so they are able to cover considerable distance in a fast time. The training here used to be lots of long distance runs with more recovery type training after but in more recent times they too have a complimentary weight program they must do to keep themselves improving.

They have developed their muscles again through the combination of longer runs and again weight training. Both groups have improved their own bodies due to the combination of training types. Doing one or the other won’t work, you need both to create the end goal. They have affected the same muscles, but in different ways, using cardiovascular training.

In conclusion the answer to “is there such a thing as muscle building cardio?” is a euphoric YES. It was always going to be the case as everything we do involves the heart! It is constantly pumping oxygen, blood and nutrients to the muscles. It’s an essential part of the muscle building process and in my humble opinion the most important of all the muscles we have. Train your heart, properly build the muscle on your frame and become more healthy in the body the mind and the soul with cardio training!!!!!!

WatchFit Experts change lives!

And they can do the same for you.


Pollyanna Hale Health and Lifestyle coaches
Lost 13 Kg in Total
Mel, 32y Location: London, United Kingdom Working with Pollyanna changed everything. I lost 13kg, got toned and have more energy than ever! Get same results!


Chriz Zaremba Fitness Consultant
Lost 45 Kg in Total
Chris, 50y Location: London, United Kingdom Lost 45kg after the age of 50 and now competes and wins physique competitions and runs marathons Check our weight loss plans