I’ve got a confession to make; I’m not a big fan of cardio. Maybe it was the countless hours I spent pounding the pavements during my teenage years in pursuit of a Kate Moss-like physique but, when I think of traditional forms of cardio, I have to stifle a yawn.

In terms of my personal goals, cardio has fewer benefits. I want to be a strong, powerful, gladiator-like wonder woman. Cardio won’t be the driving force in this process. Simply put, cardio burns calories. If you want to look like Paula Radcliffe, then reach for those running shoes. If you’d rather look like Jessica Ennis-Hill, then pick up a barbell.

Cardiovascular training does have its place within a strength athlete’s workout programme, but choose the right type and don’t overdo it. There are two types of cardiovascular training:

  1. Long slow duration training i.e. low intensity aerobic training for an extended period.
  2. Interval training (HIIT) i.e. structured periods of high intensity work followed by recovery.

If you want a Jessica-type posterior and six-pack, then avoid option one. Research has shown long cardio sessions impair strength gains and hinder hypertrophy (muscle growth). Strength training should be your priority, but short bursts of option two will accelerate fat loss, improve insulin sensitivity (i.e. your body’s ability to absorb nutrients) and improve your body’s ability to deal with and remove lactic acid from the muscles, meaning you can work harder during your weights sessions – yay!

Tough weights sessions will provide some cardiovascular benefits, but if you want to speed up your gains then throw in some HIIT. Three 25-minute sessions per week should be enough. So, what types of cardio are best? My top three are:

  1. Kettlebells (more on these lovely objects in the coming weeks)
  2. Cycling
  3. Rowing

These types of training most closely imitate motions used in exercises performed to build muscle, giving them greater synergy with strength training. Gosh, I actually sounded quite scientific then!

A simple cycling workout might look like this:

  • Two to three minutes warm-up on the lowest setting.
  • Bump up the resistance until you feel the burn in your quads and pedal like the clappers for one minute (30-45 seconds is enough if you are new to exercise).
  • Reduce the resistance to the lowest setting for one minute (make it two if you are less conditioned.)
  • Repeat for 25 to 30 minutes, then cool down on the lowest setting for two to three minutes.

Simple! It’s best to perform your cardio workouts on days you don’t strength train or at least a few hours after a weights session. This will ensure your cardiovascular workouts don’t impair your strength gains and help you attain the Amazonian bod of your dreams – bonus!