What exactly would be considered as “excessive cardio”, and exactly how much cardio is too much? “BEAR MODE” VS. There's no exact answer for how much cardio is too much. That’s because the most muscle damage occurs during the eccentric part of a movement. The one caveat I would mention though is that you also need to take into account any other strenuous activities you might be performing during the week, such as a physically demanding job, sports, martial arts, outdoor activities etc. Other good options are walking, stepping on the Stairmaster, or using an Air Bike. (In this case, that’s the phase when your foot hits the ground and you absorb your body weight.). For example, someone who works in construction, plays soccer twice a week or does kickboxing regularly would not be wise to then go and add 3-4 more cardio sessions on top of that if they’re trying to optimize muscle growth. That’s why you don’t have to do cardio to lose fat. Owing to a concept called constrained energy expenditure, adding cardio to a bodybuilding exercise plan often doesn’t reduce total daily calorie expenditure. Both activities burn calories. When you work your muscles burn for a long time, it's because of the lactic acid they produce, right? Your only solution would be to add cardio to your workout program. A good guideline to hold onto is that you should still be able to breathe comfortably through your nose. So, does cardio burn muscle? … Doing The Wrong Type Of Cardio. Instead, it would be better to do resistance training because it optimizes muscle mass, burns just as many calories, and doesn’t cause a reduction in total energy expenditure. Despite popular broscience beliefs, cardio does not burn muscle. After a physical day, cardio or heavy bodybuilding workout, it may require too much energy to go to the kitchen to grab a glass of water, even though you’re thirsty. The answer is no. Not only does this lessen the discomfort of delayed onset muscle soreness, but it can actually help your muscles recover more quickly in the days following a weight training workout. But you’ll have no other options left. That way, the cardio will have less of a negative impact on your lifting performance. Conclusion – Does Cardio Burn Muscle? That’s why you want to have elevated concentrations of mTOR. At least, that’s what most fat loss experts and personal trainers preach. In other words, from a calorie-burning perspective, bodybuilding and resistance training is just as effective for fat loss as cardio. There are a few reasons why performing too much cardio is not a good thing…. All rights reserved. That’s because there are three reasons why adding cardio to your bodybuilding workout plan isn’t the most effective way to enhance fat loss. 1) Cardio can improve muscle recovery in between workouts. Instead, do the cardio on a rest day, ideally at least twenty-four hours away from your resistance-training workout. That’s because fat loss is all about energy balance. Now, some people will argue that I’m overstating the interference effect of cardio. Sure, that’s not ideal from a muscle-maintaining perspective. When you’re more physically active throughout the week you’ll just simply feel better, and this will have direct positive carryover to all areas of your life from your fitness program to your work to your social life and more. You might also like: 17 Powerful Tips To Boost Muscle Growth [Backed By Science]. However, besides cardio’s health benefits, there is one other scenario in which adding it to your workout plan can be helpful. Thus, while cardio tends to reduce your overall activity throughout the rest of the day, strength training and bodybuilding doesn’t have that negative effect. Weight training has beneficial effects on sleep as well, but if you live a relatively sedentary lifestyle aside from maybe 3-4 hypertrophy style workouts per week, you’re probably still not getting in enough total exercise during the week in order to optimize your sleeping patterns. However, to optimize your chances of winning, you’ll have to drop an additional five percent of body fat percentage, which means you’ll have to reduce your calorie intake further. Food is more likely to be stored as fat, recovery between workouts takes longer, your quality of sleep decreases, and you increase your chances of developing a lengthy list of possible health problems. Some people will say that weight training alone produces the same benefits and therefore cardio is unnecessary, but if you simply compare the physical and mental impact of a typical hypertrophy style workout versus an actual full-on cardio session, there’s no question that these two types of exercise affect the body differently. Disclaimer: Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional prior to beginning any diet or exercise program or taking any dietary supplement. You must be logged in to post a comment Login You may hear of professional or aspiring bodybuilders telling people about their ‘worst nightmare’ of losing all their muscle leading up to a show or competition as a result of too much cardio. Yes, cardio can certainly deliver a variety of valuable benefits when performed consistently, but going too far overboard is not a wise idea if you’re looking to build muscle and gain strength as effectively as possible. So, just make an effort to position your cardio workouts on the specific days of the week that would maximize recovery and prevent training overlap as much as possible. But what they fail to mention is that these studies are done on poorly trained or untrained individuals, which alters the situation. That will minimize the negative impact of cardio. Cardio should burn away your bodyfat—but not your hard-earned muscle. The most important principle when it comes to building muscle optimally is to strive for progressive overload and continuously add more weight to your lifts over time, and that’s why it’s crucial that you always enter the gym fresh and fully prepared to train at your maximum potential. That’s right! While that seems to make sense, that’s not how it works in real life. Adaptations in activity levels aside, there’s another reason cardio isn’t ideal for fat loss. Weight training should always be given top priority in your program, and you don’t want to negatively impact your strength by pre-fatiguing yourself with a full cardio session prior to hitting the weights. All forms of cardio done at a moderate to high intensity, however, interfere with muscle growth. For instance, let’s say you’re going on stage in eight weeks from now and you’re already relatively lean. “Performing too much cardio could burn muscle if you aren’t adding any type of strength training into your workout regimen or complementing your training with enough calories,” says Ripka. (This is often a problem for those who prep for a bodybuilding or a physique contest.). I’d consider 4 sessions the upper limit though, and I’d also recommend utilizing a mix of both high intensity (HIIT) and low intensity (LISS) forms of cardio since performing high intensity variations exclusively can easily burn you out when done on top of a complete weight training routine. Owing to such (unconscious) adaptations, total calorie expenditure doesn’t tend to increase much, if at all, when people add cardio to their bodybuilding workout program. Let’s say you want to do a cardio session on the exercise bike. Or they may drive to work instead of walking or cycling. That’s why you should avoid cardio if you want to optimize muscle growth. Does Cardio Burn Muscle if I just do Cardio-Based Lifts? The opposite happens when you’re insulin resistant. And that cardio can blunt your ability to pack on new muscle? To be more specific, the more cardio you do, the more it will interfere with muscle growth. Since that movement primarily trains your leg muscles, it’s not wise to do that training on your leg days. The Long, Slow, Boring "Cardio" In fact, when you're running the same routine day in and day out without changing up, you're prone to joint wear-and-tear and risk of overuse injury. So, in summary, does cardio build muscle or burn it off? They’ll cite studies such as this one or this one to show that doing cardio doesn’t hurt but actually causes muscle growth. After documenting my results of doing eight straight weeks of consistent cardio training on http:visualimpactcardioreview.net , I’ve been asked many different questions regarding muscle … Cardio, if done correctly and in moderation, may actually help gain muscle. Now, the problem is that since you’ve already been dieting for months, you may not be able to set your calorie intake any lower. Aside from your “aesthetic desire” for a big chest and lean abs, let’s not forget about the basic benefits of simply maintaining sound overall cardiovascular conditioning. To lose fat, you must consume fewer calories than you burn. You’ll also want to space your cardio out during the week as best you can so that it has minimal interference with weight training performance and recovery. That’s what a 2012 meta-analysis published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal found. If you’re going for a leaner and more athletic look or if you’re performing cardio simply because you enjoy it or have practical use for it (such as improving conditioning for a sport), then the amount of cardio you perform is really up to you and it doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to 4 times per week. In this post I’ll explain the real relationship between cardio and muscle growth, and I’ll show you the optimal way to implement cardio into your weekly routine so you can build the head-turning physique you’re after while optimizing your physical and mental health at the same time. One way it does this is via DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) where your body will become sore after an intense workout as the body recovers and grows. Very low-intensity activities such as walking and low-pace cycling don’t interfere with muscle growth because they’re not intensive enough to trigger much of an adaptation response. First, it will have direct carry over to certain exercises that you perform in the gym. That’s why cardio can be beneficial for physique competitors. I don’t recommend cardio for fat loss since such sessions automatically causes most people to become less active throughout the rest of the day, causing them burning the same number of calories as they otherwise would. And remember, it’s not just your muscles that are being placed under additional stress either; your joints and central nervous system are also impacted, and they require time and resources in order to properly recover as well. Even if you aren’t using cardio as a means of improving body composition, the psychological benefits alone are well worth it. Ideally to no more than twenty minutes per session. How To Build Round "3D Delts" That Pop (4 Exercises), The 3 Best Chest Exercises For The Perfect Pec Workout, Not Losing Fat? The fitness world has always been split down the middle between those who love to lift and those who love doing cardio. It reduces muscle growth by increasing AMPK while reducing mTOR. Ultra-marathons and extreme endurance events are in a league of their own. Does cardio burn muscle? A few points to consider on the issue of improving your overall metabolic conditioning…. Secondly, if you perform little to no cardio during your bulking phase, it’s going to be a very painful process shifting into regular cardio once you decide to cut. Aside from the obvious fact that cardio burns calories (helping you to improve fat loss during a cutting phase or potentially reduce body fat gains during a bulking phase), here are a few other less commonly discussed upsides of including a moderate amount of cardio in your plan… 1) Cardio can improve muscle recovery in between workouts. You may actually start muscle wasting by subjecting your body to catabolic conditions. Does Cardio Burn Muscle And Kill Gains? As long as you’re keeping your weekly cardio sessions within these parameters and have your nutrition and sleep dialed in, the idea that “cardio burns muscle” or leads to muscle loss is not something you’ll need to concern yourself with. But in 99% of the other scenarios it’s better to avoid cardio and focus on getting lean by eating less and doing enough strength training instead. Do you avoid or severely limit the amount of cardio you perform during the week out of fear that it will “burn muscle” and interfere with your size and strength gains? That’ll bear more fruit when it comes to shaping an eye-catching figure. Low-intensity cardio, depending on the length of your sessions, can end up burning a lot of extra calories. So in reality, the answer is no, cardio does not burn muscle; training in an incorrect way is what burns muscle. 1) It interferes with recovery in between weight training sessions. Although it can be drain on both your gym time and your energy – it’s cardio after weights is definitely worth it. The June 2005 issue of IDEA Fitness … The other is razor-sharp conditioning.  If you do want to combine weight training and cardio into a single session for convenience sake, always perform your cardio post-workout rather than pre-workout. When bodybuilding if you want to lose fat, you must do cardio, correct? The more cardio you do, the more it’ll interfere with your strength and muscle gains. After all, cardiovascular exercise eats away at your muscle tissue, decreases gym performance and is directly counterproductive to building a strong and muscular body, right? A bigger problem with cardio is that it impairs muscle growth, which it does by increasing AMPK while lowering mTOR. 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