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Stronglifts and Cardio [Article]

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Aug 29, 2018 9:30:00 AM

Stronglifts and cardio

Stronglifts and Cardio


You can combine Stronglifts and cardio if you already have reached a higher of fitness in strength or endurance. If you are just starting out work on your goals first and focus on Stronglifts or cardio to build a solid routine. After this, you can start to scale. 

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What is your goal 


If you want to combine Stronglifts with cardio it is always important to know what your goals are. Whenever I talk to beginners their interests usually lie in these three areas 


  • Performance
  • Health 
  • Looks 


Looks often relate to what you see on the covers of magazines. If you want to be the next Thor or Tarzan Stronglifts and cardio won’t get you far. What you need to get really disciplined about is diet. That is hard and usually not sustainable long-term when you have other things to do than making money as a model. If this six pack is your goal look primarily to look into your diet. Everything else is an afterthought. You will be busy enough being disciplined in that area.


If you just want to stay healthy you might not even need to do Stronglifts or cardio. Cut out the fizzy drinks and do yoga on a daily basis. That will do the trick of making you slim and trim. Not front cover material but definitely enough compared to the majority of the population.


If you are about performance Stronglifts and cardio is for you depending on what your goals are. Ask yourself what you are mainly interested in achieving and prioritize accordingly. 


What you want to avoid is to be everything at once. If you want to look like Arnold, be strong like Hulk and as wholesome as Mother Theresa it is likely that you will achieve none of these goals.


Prioritise the areas of performance, health and looks to each other. Pick your programming and dieting along those priorities. This will help you to be happier and more successful. 




Stronglifts is a great program for you if you


  • Focus on strength
  • Are a beginner 
  • Have three hours in the week to spare 


You will be following a template that has three workouts per week. You will be doing these exercise to get stronger:



For 5 sets of 5 repetitions except from the deadlift. The deadlift is done 1x5 per week as it is more taxing in the body. 


Sets of five across are commonly accepted in the strength and bodybuilding community as the middle ground between muscle building and strength development. The programming is solid and easy to follow. Download the Stronglifts app to keep track of your progress. Learn about the lifts deeply before performing them. 


Stronglifts 5x5 is a good choice for 


  • Mid-distance Runners who want to increase strength 
  • Martial artists who begin to increase strength 
  • Football & Rugby players who begin to increase strength
  • Beginners in fitness with a focus on strength


As the program is easy to follow and perform these groups will benefit the most. The linear progression helps to get stronger and see progress easily. 


Stronglifts 5x5 is a suboptimal choice for


  • Bodybuilders 
  • Powerlifters
  • Long distance runners 
  • Professional martial artists
  • Professional football & Rugby players 


Bodybuilders or anyone who is interested in a six-pack will not reach their goals with Stronglifts efficiently and effectively. Diet plays a big role here. On top of that, a program like German Volume Training is more suited to the needs of muscle growth.


Powerlifters will find Stronglifts to be suboptimal as it does not allow for adjustments based on performance. If you have a very good or bad day your program should reflect this. The main point held against Stronglifts is that it has no specificity towards the individual. I personally like this approach for beginners and think the criticism is just. You will find a good beginner program on powerliftingtowin if you want to focus on powerlifting and scale quicker in the beginner phase. 


Long distance runners do not have the time to do Stronglifts. Especially for marathon runners combining their routine with Stronglifts will become hard. When you have to press in 100 miles a month the time is better spent with a recovery run than in the gym. 


Professional athletes might find Stronglifts not to be challenging enough. You can still start with an empty bar or adjust the starting point. It is worthwhile to eat whether you can scale on a linear progression like Stronglifts for as long as possible. If you find Stronglifts to be too easy or stale try Wendler 531 or the Juggernaut method instead. 




Cardio is good for you if your main priorities are weight loss and endurance. You will benefit from cardio if you are a 


  • Senior
  • Overweight 
  • Budget-conscious
  • Outdoorsy 


Senior can benefit from staying mobile. It does not have to be a run or jog. It can also be a nice stroll. As long as you get out to the fresh air and stretch your feet.


If you are overweight the same applies. Try to get to 20 minutes of walking a day if you do not do so at the moment. Speed does not matter. From there try to cover more and more ground in these twenty minutes. If you can already jog for twenty minutes try intervals. 4 minutes if moderate intensity followed by 1 minute of very high intensity four times. To progress make the rest periods shorter and bursts longer. 


If you like the outdoors and want to save some money you can get out to run without a gym membership. You can spend the money you save on a good pair of runners. 


People who will not really benefit from cardio as much are


  • Strength athletes
  • Six pack enthusiasts


Strength athletes of any kind do not need to pay a lot of attention to their weight and endurance. Must weight issues can be fixed by a straighter diet to meet the weight class of choice if needed. Strongman competitors or hammer throwers do not need to worry about weight at all as long as they can complete what is demanded in competition. 


Anyone who wants to get a six pack should put his or her focus on getting below 10% body fat. The main driver there is diet, not cardio. 


Can you do Stronglifts and cardio


It depends on your goals and level of fitness. The higher your level of fitness the more likely you can do both at the same time. The lower your level of fitness the more you should decide what to start with and focus on that. 


Getting from zero to a five days a week schedule including three lifting and two running sessions are bound to fail. You will not cope mentally or physically. Build up to it. 


For everyone who thinks they can do everything at the same time to get ripped, you probably will not pay attention to diet enough. Save the time from running or Stronglifts to improve your kitchen skills. Learn what to eat and how to prepare meals for the next day.


Further reading 




Topics: Lift stronger, Run Faster, Stronglifts 5x5, Fitness, Strength