Gym Guide: Cardio for Powerlifters

Gym Guide: Cardio for Powerlifters

In powerlifting, where strength and muscle mass reign supreme, the idea of incorporating cardio into training routines might seem counterintuitive. After all, powerlifting focuses on short bursts of intense strength rather than sustained endurance, right? While this may be true to some extent, the benefits of cardiovascular exercise for powerlifters are often underestimated.

Importance of Cardiovascular Health in Powerlifting

Cardiovascular health is crucial for all athletes, including powerlifters. A strong heart and efficient circulatory system not only improve overall health but also enhance performance in the gym. By neglecting cardiovascular conditioning, powerlifters may be limiting their potential for strength gains and overall athletic prowess.

Types of Cardio Exercises Suitable for Powerlifters

Let's delve deeper into the types of cardio exercises that are particularly suitable for powerlifters:

  1. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT involves alternating between short bursts of intense exercise and periods of rest or lower-intensity activity. This form of cardio is highly effective for powerlifters because it can improve cardiovascular fitness while also promoting muscle growth and strength gains. HIIT sessions are typically shorter in duration compared to traditional steady-state cardio, making them convenient for powerlifters who prioritize strength training.

  2. Low-Intensity Steady-State (LISS) Cardio: LISS cardio involves performing aerobic exercise at a low to moderate intensity for an extended period, typically 30 minutes to an hour. Examples include walking, cycling, or using an elliptical machine at a steady pace. LISS cardio is beneficial for powerlifters because it helps improve endurance and cardiovascular health without placing excessive stress on the body. Powerlifters can incorporate LISS cardio on rest days or as a recovery activity between intense lifting sessions.

  3. Circuit Training: Circuit training combines strength training exercises with short bursts of cardio, creating a high-intensity workout that targets both muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness. Powerlifters can design circuit workouts that incorporate compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, and bench presses along with cardio movements like jumping jacks, burpees, or rope skipping. Circuit training offers a time-efficient way to improve overall fitness while maintaining or even enhancing strength levels.

Each of these cardio exercises offers unique benefits for powerlifters, allowing them to tailor their training regimen to their specific goals and preferences.

By incorporating a variety of cardio modalities into their routines, powerlifters can maximize their cardiovascular fitness while minimizing interference with strength gains.

Incorporating Cardio into Powerlifting Training Programs

The key to successfully integrating cardio into a powerlifting training program lies in finding the right balance. Powerlifters should aim to incorporate cardio sessions strategically, taking into account factors such as frequency, duration, and timing.

By carefully planning cardio workouts around strength training sessions, powerlifters can reap the benefits of improved cardiovascular health without compromising their primary goal of building strength.



Balancing Cardio with Strength Training

Finding the right balance between cardio and strength training is essential for powerlifters. While cardiovascular exercise is important, it should not overshadow the primary goal of building strength.

Powerlifters should structure their training programs to prioritize strength training while incorporating cardio as a supplementary component.


Monitoring Progress and Adjusting Cardio Regimens

As with any aspect of training, monitoring progress and making adjustments as needed is essential for success. Powerlifters should track their performance in both strength training and cardio exercises, making adjustments to their routines as necessary to achieve their goals.


In conclusion, cardio is not only compatible with powerlifting but can also enhance performance and overall health. By incorporating cardio strategically into their training programs, powerlifters can improve cardiovascular fitness, manage body composition, and achieve greater gains in strength over time.


  1. Is cardio necessary for powerlifters? While not absolutely necessary, cardio can offer numerous benefits for powerlifters, including improved cardiovascular health, enhanced recovery, and better weight management.

  2. How often should powerlifters do cardio? The frequency of cardio sessions will depend on individual goals and preferences. However, most powerlifters can benefit from incorporating cardio into their routines 2-3 times per week.

  3. Can cardio improve my strength gains? Yes, cardio can improve strength gains by promoting better recovery, reducing fatigue during lifting sessions, and increasing overall work capacity.

  4. What types of cardio are best for powerlifters? High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Low-Intensity Steady-State (LISS) cardio, and circuit training are all effective options for powerlifters. The best type of cardio will depend on individual preferences and goals.

Powerlifting Accessories

If you're in the market for quality powerlifting gear and accessories, then look no further than SBD! Here are some we think you'll like.

Lifting Belt

A lifting belt can be a game-changer, especially for Deadlifts. It provides essential core support, helping to maintain intra-abdominal pressure and protect the lower back. Cinch it snugly around your waist before tackling those heavy lifts.

The 13mm SBD Lever Belt

The classic SBD Belt. A high quality 13mm lever belt featuring a patented gliding lever, providing the adjustability of a prong belt with the ease and tightness of a lever belt.

Ideal for sizing up or down whenever you need during training sessions and competitions. Perfect for beginners or seasoned lifters.

The 10mm SBD Belt

The 10mm lever belt is constructed using two different cuts of hide to allow the belt to retain support while moulding to your waist.

Featuring a low profile buckle - along with rounded edges and corners - to minimise any obstruction or discomfort from contact between the legs and the belt.

Knee Sleeves

For those pushing their limits, knee sleeves offer valuable joint support. While Deadlifts are less demanding on the knees, incorporating knee sleeves can provide an extra layer of protection during RDLs, especially if you're dealing with heavier loads.

The Classic SBD Knee Sleeves

Manufactured with high grade 7mm neoprene, the SBD Knee Sleeves is designed to minimise the risk of injury and to aid performance. Relied on by strength athletes around the world, these 7mm knee sleeves are ideal for heavy training.

The SBD Powerlifting Knee Sleeves

The SBD Powerlifting Knee Sleeves are designed for competitive powerlifters looking for the maximum support from their sleeves. They allow for significantly greater compression throughout knee flexion to maximise support and confidence during maximal attempts, increasing top end performance.

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