Does Cardio HelpOr Hinder Muscle Gain

The answer is...yes.

Confused? I'm sure you are. Ever since Ken Cooper's book, "Aerobics" was first published in 1968, aerobic exercise has been sold - and oversold - as the primary form of exercise for losing weight and/or getting fit. Thousands of books and articles have been published since then, all extolling the virtues of aerobic exercise - particularly endurance training - for improving health and body composition. You can't swing a cat without hitting a jogger. Visit any city recreation center, and you'll see a number of cardio classes being offered. Even in most gyms, the floor space devoted to cardio machines and classes vastly exceeds the space devoted to free weights and associated equipment (e.g., benches, power racks, etc.). It's not surprising that when people start a fitness program, the first thing they think of is cardio.

There are some problems with this view, especially for the person who wants to add muscle. When was the last time you saw someone with a perfect lean and muscular physique who got there by concentrating on cardio training?

The answer is: "never". I've seen plenty of lean people who focus on cardio training, but they look thin and undermuscled. You're not reading this book because you want to look like a marathon runner. The reality is that focusing on cardio is not only useless for building muscle, but can actually be counterproductive.

Excessive cardio:

utilizes calories needed for building muscle; depletes glycogen stores;

increases physical stress, stimulates cortisol production and decreases the testosterone/cortisol ratio ;

reduces both total and free testosterone levels;

increases oxidative stress and free radical production;

oxidizes amino acids needed for muscle growth/repair;

increases risk of injury (especially higher impact activities);

impairs recovery from strength training;

can reduce power output

• can lead to overtraining.

• can induce conversion of fast twitch muscle fibers to slow twitch.

When it comes to cardio, more is definitely not better!

But what about the benefits of cardio? Surely all those books and articles can't be wrong!

Ok, let's take a look at the benefits. Cardiovascular exercise can:

• increase VO2max (ventilatory oxygen uptake);

• increase blood flow to exercising muscles;

• improve blood lipid profiles;

• enhance insulin sensitivity;

• reduce fat mass and improve fat distribution;

• improve exercise capacity/endurance;

• reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease;

reduce blood pressure.

Obviously, we want to do enough cardio to accrue the benefits, while minimizing the drawbacks. Some cardiovascular training can be useful to athletes looking to add mass and strength, but it needs to be kept within limits to avoid compromising gains. In the sections that follow, we'll explore the various pros and cons to come up with ways that you can optimize your cardiovascular training and conditioning, without overtraining or sacrificing any hard-earned muscle.

The Basics Of Body Building

The Basics Of Body Building

Bodybuilding is the process of developing muscle fibers through various techniques. It is achieved through muscle conditioning, weight training, increased calorie intake, and resting your body as it repairs and heals itself, before restarting your workout routine.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment