Why too much cardio could be killing your gains

Yes, cardiorespiratory exercise is good for your heart, but is it hurting your gains?

Gym-goers, whose goal is maximal strength gains, should reconsider how much cardio activity they are performing each week. Researchers have reported that cardio exercise, when performed for a long period of time at high intensity multiple times a week, can potentially limit a person’s development of strength and muscle growth.

 

Why?

Well, like I mentioned in my last post about pre- and post-workout nutrition, our bodies can only go so long until they’re running on fumes and tapping into our muscles’ storage of protein for energy to survive. Intense cardio exercise such as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) burns fat, but it also burns energy, and by the time we’re finished with a killer workout, there’s not much energy left to spare for a 30-minute round of HIIT.

 

What does that mean?

If we are running low on gas by the time we get to our HIIT session, the protein stores within our (recently fatigued) muscles will have to supply the energy for it, undoing all the hard work we just did with the weights.

 

My suggestion?

If your goal is to build muscle mass this “off season,” avoid performing HIIT after an intense weight lifting session. Instead, finish off your workout with a short amount of steady-state cardio by walking on the treadmill at a moderate pace for 10 minutes. You can actually supplement your muscle growth this way, by circulating the blood back into your exhausted muscles.

Then, on less intense days, it is okay to perform a 20-minute HIIT session to ward off any unwanted fat gains this winter.

 

*This is not to say that cardio is bad for you; It is just important to recognize that the type of cardio you do, how long, and how often are all factors that will change based on your fitness goal.

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