Should You Do Cardio When Doing Calisthenics?

Cardio has long been deemed a very healthy form of exercise. It not only boosts cardiovascular endurance but is well known for its benefits on heart health. That being said, while this form of exercise is certainly very good for you, should you be combining it with your calisthenics program? Well, let’s just say that there are both pros and cons to this matter.

So, with this being the case, let’s delve a little deeper. More specifically, in this article, I’m going to present and discuss the pros and cons you may experience combining cardio and calisthenics.

This will all be explained in great detail, so much so, that this issue will forever be cleared up and you will never have trouble with such decisions again. Let’s get into this!

What is cardio?

Cardio is typically defined as a form of exercise that greatly elevates the heart rate and breathing rate. This will involve aerobic exercises such as running, jumping, HIIT, and even using a jump rope.

Aerobic exercises such as these listed above will typically involve a lot of physical movement which is precisely why the breathing rate and heart rate increases so much.

So, now that you possess a more in-depth view of cardio, let’s take a look at the three main pros and cons of this form of exercise.

The pros of cardio

  1. Cardio is good for your brain. After thorough research, it is clear that any form of intense aerobic exercise helps to rebuild your brain. This occurs when cardio elevates levels of BDNF – (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). This chemical is believed to signal the growth of new brain cells whilst also helping to remove old/damaged brain cells.
  2. Aerobic exercise is great for the heart. During intense aerobic exercise, you place a tremendous amount of positive pressure on the cardiovascular system. This, in turn, causes adaptative responses such as improved blood flow, greater carrying of oxygen in the blood, and improved heart function. As you might’ve guessed, these benefits are extremely kind to the heart!
  3. Cardio can help you sleep. During/after a cardio session, the body releases feel-good chemicals to reward you for keeping the body healthy. These feel-good chemicals can not only drastically reduce stress levels, but you will, in turn, feel happier, more relaxed, and even potentially euphoric.

The cons of cardio

  1. Cardio may jeopardize your health. Let me be very clear, cardio, for 99.9% of people, cardio is excellent for your health. However, for a very small fraction of people suffering from heart/bp issues, cardio can potentially stress the body more than these people can handle. Try to be mindful before starting an exercise program to make sure you are suited for it.
  2. Cardio may decrease anabolism. For those of you who don’t know, anabolism refers to the building up of muscle and/or bodily tissue. That being said, in order to remain in an anabolic state, the body must receive plenty of protein, rest, and nutrients. Doing too much cardio can decrease anabolism by not only placing the body under too much stress but also reducing the amount of time spent resting.
  3. Doing cardio can promote catabolism. On the other end of the anabolic spectrum, we have the phrase catabolism. This, as you might’ve guessed, refers to the breaking down of muscle/bodily tissue. Too much cardio can place you into a catabolic state by not only elevating the stress hormone cortisol but can deplete your body of calories, which are needed for anabolism to take place.

As you can now see, there are both pros and potential cons to doing cardio. Depending on your goals and your health, doing cardio may or may not benefit you.

With the main pros and cons listed, you can now make an informed decision on whether you want to start doing cardio.

Cardio and calisthenics – should you combine them?

Before I go any further, it’s important to note that cardio and calisthenics are very different. Not only do they have different effects on the body, but the exercises themselves are done for entirely different results.

Cardio is mainly done in the hopes of improving overall health, calisthenics, however, is more so done to formulate a strong and athletic body. While they are both good for your health, should you combine them? The answer, well, it depends…

Consider your goals…

It primarily depends on your overall goals. For example, if your goal is to master the art of calisthenics and become the best in this field, throwing cardio into the mix will not help you. In fact, depending on your training intensity, doing cardio alongside calisthenics may even diminish your training performance by causing you to overtrain.

However, if the aspect of being a champion does not suit you and you would prefer to opt for a strong, athletic, and healthy body, throwing cardio into the mix may be the way to go to achieve your goals.

Do keep in mind, if you do decide to combine both cardio and calisthenics, be sure to keep an eye on your progress. Your progress will determine whether you are overworking yourself or if you are getting stronger and fitter at the exercises you do.


After reading through this article, you will now know and understand the main pros and cons cardio has to offer. Because of this, you will be able to effectively decide whether adding cardio to your exercise routine will be a good or bad choice.

In addition, you will now know that combining cardio with calisthenics could be a good thing, but also a bad thing. Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing is entirely dependant on your goals and what you hope to achieve.

Luckily for you, this article provides the correct and necessary steps to determine just what to do with your workout plan. Because of this, you can now confidently and quickly formulate your own workout plan without messing up and wasting your time.