My Secret to Maintaining Muscle… Cardio for Hypertrophy

Date: 2020-06-10 12:45:00

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Study – Journal of Applied Physiology

Per the study, researchers had each of the 10 participants do 5 weeks of knee extensions on one leg, and 5 weeks of knee extensions + one legged aerobic work on the other

Hypertrophy was twice as great in the aerobic leg vs. the strength only leg – a 6% increase in quadriceps area vs 3%

Gene Expression Changes

Increases in PGC-1a were significantly higher in the aerobic leg (10.3-fold increase vs. 2-fold increase), and myostatin reductions were significant in the aerobic leg (65% decrease), but not in the strength only leg (31% decrease)

PGC-1a increases mitochondrial biogenesis, thus increasing the capacity for generation of ATP, or increasing angiogenesis, thus providing more nutrients to the muscle AND PGC-1alpha protects skeletal muscle from atrophy by suppressing FoxO3 Action and atrophy-specific gene transcription

FoxO family transcription factors play a critical role in this loss of cell protein, and when activated, FoxO3 causes expression of the atrophy-related ubiquitin ligases

AMPK phosphorylation was greater in the aerobic leg compared to the strength only leg, but there were no changes in p70S6K phosphorylation (a downstream protein in the mTOR pathway)

For a specifics from the study, “Acute AE reduced glycogen content (32%) and increased phosphorylation of AMPK (1.5-fold) and rpS6 (1.3-fold). Phosphorylation of p70S6K and 4E-BP1 remained unchanged.”

“Thus AE activates AMPK, reduces glycogen stores, and impairs the progression of concentric force, yet muscle hypertrophic responses to chronic RE training appear not to be compromised.”

A study from Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews also looked into the muscle hypertrophy effects from aerobic training – this just provides more explanation on why it’s good for hypertrophy

Aerobic exercise results reduction in catabolic mRNA expression, induction of mitochondrial biogenesis and dynamics and increased muscle protein synthesis

PGC-1α inhibits FOXO3a expression therefore lowering muscle catabolism

In one study (Cell), after 8 weeks of resistance exercise PGC-1α4 was increased 1.5-fold while a combined training program of both aerobic and resistance exercise increased PGC-1α4 twice that of the resistance group alone (i.e., 3-fold)

Along with the increased expression of PGC-1α4 there were also reductions in catabolic mRNA expression (FOXO3a, MuRF-1, myostatin)

How Long to Wait Between Cardio & Lifting?

One study found the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that up to 24-hours recovery between cardio and resistance training exercise is required to lift your heaviest weights

Another study, this one also from the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, concluded that you should have at least 6 hours between the two

Specifically stated that, “Fitness coaches should avoid scheduling 2 contradictory qualities, with less than 6-hour recovery between them to obtain full adaptive responses to concurrent training.”


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