March 25, 2023
Best (and Worst) Cardio for Powerlifters

Cardio is assumed to be a double-edged sword for powerlifters. It helps the powerlifters shed fat, making them feel a bit stronger and healthier in their life. It also improves work capacity on powerlifting. Due to its multifaceted benefits cardio are very favorite among powerlifters. There are many of cardio among them some are the best cardio for powerlifters. This article will clarify the most effective form of cardio and its benefits. 

Best Cardio Options for Powerlifters

There are many best cardio options for powerlifters. If you are a powerlifter, you need to be more muscular enough. Cardio exercises help you to become stronger and healthier in your powerlifting period. Here are the best cardio for powerlifters and their benefits.  

#1. Walking/Treadmill

treadmill as a cardio for powerlifter

Walking is one of the best cardio exercises that gets your heart rate up and keeps it up for a protracted period of time. It has many practical benefits for powerlifters. On the other hand, it also improves your breathing to keep your body healthy and work harder. 


  • You can do it anywhere
  • Doesn’t need any equipment
  • Low barrier to entry
  • It is a great option for you to jump into cardio too quickly
  • Low intensity

How to do it

To get the best result from walking, you have to maintain proper time. It could be at least 30 minutes as briskly as you can on most days of the week. But we would recommend you wear a fitness tracker that observes your heart rate when you go out for walking. 

Choose the finest treadmill with the best shock absorption! Read our comprehensive shopping guide to choose the finest shock-absorbing treadmill.

#2. Cycling/ Exercise Bike

Cycling as a cardio for powerlifter

Cycling improves your cardiovascular fitness, increases your muscle strength, strengthens your bones, and improves your joint mobility. So this cardio exercise is very effective for powerlifters.


  • Cycling is not as exhausting as other forms of cardio
  • It is very easier to do
  • It strengthens your knees and hips
  • It can be a fun activity if you did outdoors in your house

How to do it

Cycling can be a great activity to prepare your body for powerlifting. You can cycle by a stationary bike in a gym or you can also purchase a bike on the pavement. Outdoor weather will freshen your mind. 

#3. Swimming

Swimming as a cardio for powerlifter

Swimming is one of the great cardio exercises to maintain a healthy life. It keeps your heart rate up but takes some of the impact stress off your body. It also builds endurance, muscle strength, and cardiovascular fitness. So this exercise prepares your body for powerlifting. 


  • Low impact on your joint
  • Your whole body workout
  • It improves your full body fitness

How to do it

Swimming is a great way to fit your body for powerlifting. To do it properly, find either a gym that has a pool or you can look for a community pool that allows lane swimming and spend some time in the pool. You can do a combination of front crawl, breaststroke, or back crawl for cardio too.

#4. Elliptical

Elliptical as a cardio for powerlifter

The elliptical machine is very useful for full-body exercise. It gives you opportunities for low-intensity cardio workouts that cover your whole upper and lower body. So using the elliptical you can get ready for powerlifting.


  • It is comfortable on the joints
  • Good for low-intensity cardio workouts
  • It covers your whole upper and lower body

How to do it

An elliptical is a machine found in almost all commercial gyms and has its personal model also. When you go to use the elliptical machine, you have to move its handlebars with your arms and pedals with your feet for a full-body cardio exercise. 

#5. Circuit Training

Circuit training is a form of body conditioning that concerns steadiness training, high-intensity aerobics,  resistance training, and exercises executed in a circuit, equivalent to high-intensity interval training. It targets your strength-building and muscular endurance.


  • It is engaging and more fun than just hopping on a single machine
  • You can use a variety of muscles so don’t just weaken your lower or upper body
  • It is versatile and can do them anywhere

How to do it

Circuit training is a general term for choosing a few moderately simple and lightweight exercises. Circuits are used for doing back-to-back exercises for a set amount of reps or for a set amount of time.

#6. Rowing

Rowing machine as a cardio for powerlifter

Rowing is a short workout on a rowing machine. It is very effective for your body because it is a full-body workout from the start. It activates nearly twice the muscle mass as other activities like running and cycling. A single stroke on the rowing machine works your quads, glutes, arms, hamstrings, core, and back muscles.


  • Not as taxing on your lower body
  • You can focus more on your upper body 
  • Gets your heart rate up somewhat quickly
  • Adjustable resistance

How to do it

Rowing is a machine where you sit on a seat that slides back and fronts while pulling on a handle on a chain that is attached to the front of the machine. For that, you need to push off with your legs followed by rowing the handle back. It comes with assorted levels of resistance that are adjustable. 

#7. Sled training

The sled training is a functional full-body exercise that targets your quads, hamstrings, chest,  hip flexors, glutes, calves, core, triceps, and shoulders. Depending on your goals, you can push your sled with the tiniest weight for a longer duration on the resistance and push for a shorter distance.


  • Whole-body movement doesn’t disproportionately target one muscle group or joint
  • Shorter intense bouts, less overall time commitment 
  • A good option for those doing cardio

How to do it

Many gyms now have a sled that can be loaded up with weight plates and pushed along the turf. The purpose of the sled is to hold on to the sled while pushing the ground away from under you with your legs and pushing the sled from one end of the turf to the other.

Worst Cardio for Powerlifter 

There is some worst cardio for the powerlifter because these are high-impact cardio exercises. They provide a lot of eccentric stress and thus tissue damage. On the other hand, you know that recovery time is required after each session, particularly before performing leg workouts. So you should avoid the following exercises. 

#1. Battle rope training

Battle rope training is an upper-body workout. This exercise burns tons of calories and is recommended for people trying to lose weight. So, you should avoid the battle rope exercise. 

#2. Running 

If your goal is to maximize muscle growth and strength, running can be a barrier for you to doing so. It may affect your ability to recover, muscle fiber composition, and increase the risk of overtraining compared to powerlifting alone.

#3. Jump rope

Jumping rope is a great exercise to get your heart rate up and calorie burn because it works all your major muscle groups of your body. But it may be the cause of leg injuries for the powerlifters. Besides, it burns your calories as well. So, you should avoid jumping rope. 

#4. Jumping jack

Jumping jack is a full-body cardio workout. When you perform the exercise, it creates stress on your lower body, especially on your knee and ankle. Most of the time it may be the cause of the injuries for the powerlifters. So, you shouldn’t do this exercise as soon as possible. 

Why Should You Choose an Elliptical for Powerlifting

Elliptical Machine Advantages

The elliptical is one of the best versatile cardio equipment. It has many workout options which make your body capable of powerlifting. Using the machine you can boost your cardiovascular health and improve your cardio stamina very easily. 

You know that balance and mobility are significantly important for controlling falls and injuries and enhancing flexibility and skillfulness. You can gain balance and mobility using an elliptical machine because it is very good for conditioning your body. Thus it boosts your immunity and reduces the risk of diseases.

On the other hand, an elliptical machine also gives you an integrated full-body workout. Elliptical cardio workouts improve your body muscles and also tone your body parts with regular use.

However, you can feel an enjoyable workout with the rhythmic movements of your legs and arms. You can also listen to music and even watch a show or a match while on the elliptical.

Final Verdict

Cardio is often avoided by powerlifters even if it is a valuable form of exercise. It comes with worthwhile benefits relating to weight management, recovery, and long-term health as well. So, you should practice the best cardio for powerlifters which does not exacerbate injuries and prevent you from building more muscle. To make your powerlifting enjoyable, you can follow the procedures discussed in the article.