Strength athletes love to quote the research showing that cardio can decrease force production. I’ve used it myself to justify doing only 20 minutes of cardio a week just so I could spend more time lifting heavy shit. Others use it as an excuse to be fat and out of shape.
I think all of us need some element of conditioning in our training programs. We all need to include something that raises our heart rates and improves our overall endurance. Those activities not only increase our ability to train hard and train well, they also improve our health. And, most of all, they help us reduce bodyfat.
That said, I’m no fan of jogging for strength athletes. If you’re more interested in strength performance, I think shorter and more intense cardio workouts will improve your conditioning without any risk of decreasing your strength or power.
Brisk walking, especially if you go up an incline and/or walk with a weighted backpack, is great for general conditioning. Do it a few times a week and you should notice significant improvements in your overall fitness levels, along with some noticeable reductions in the size of your gut.
If steady-state cardio isn’t your thing, you can try interval training. Keep the workouts short — 20 to 30 minutes of combined work and rest intervals. Go short and really hard, rather than long and “kind of” hard. The classics like farmer’s walks, sandbag carries, sled pulls, car pushes, tire flips, and sledgehammer work are also good ideas. You’re only limited by your creativity.
Spend 30 to 120 minutes per week on your overall conditioning and you’ll feel better, look better, and have better overall stamina for your workouts and other activities. You may or may not get stronger, but you sure don’t have to worry about getting weaker.