FOR STRENGTH-TRAINING SAVANTS, cardio can seem like a necessary evil. Listen to some guys around the gym and they make it sound like taking a mere lap around the block can eat away at your precious muscle or whittle your body into a marathoner’s gazelle build.

But if you’re trying to overhaul your current regimen and face a new kind of challenge, then keep reading and lace up (preferably in one of these top running shoes). Whether you’ve been a strict lifter for years or you’re just a guy who’s never exercised before and wants to start pounding the pavement, consider this your blueprint for becoming a runner.

(Oh, and by the way: If you’re a muscle-bound guy trying to improve your cardiovascular fitness, there are plenty of lung-bursting, muscle-taxing, non-traditional cardio workouts you can do. There’s a sweet spot for how much cardio to do without losing muscle. And, believe it or not, you can even run a marathon without sacrificing your hard-earned physique.)