Having a nicely toned and well-built body not just makes you look good, but it is also a sign of optimal health. Numerous people dedicate numerous hours in a day to religiously working out at the gym in the hopes of building some rock-solid abs that would make them stand out from the crowd.
However, it takes a lot of hard work to get the body of your dreams. The effort that both men and women put in to gain muscle mass makes them quite wary of losing it. Therefore, they keep a strict check on their diet to make sure their hard work doesn’t go to waste.
They are also mindful of the exercises they do, and one of these exercises is cardio. It is often thought that cardio burns muscle, and this would be a nightmare for any bodybuilder or any individual who has worked hard on building their muscle mass, which is why we have decided to clarify the truth regarding this statement.
The Effect of Cardio on Muscle Mass
We know you’re all waiting to find out if cardio will burn muscle mass, and the moment of truth has arrived. Yes, cardio does burn muscle mass. However, it only happens occasionally. Doing cardio burns muscle mass only if you make one of the following mistakes:
Wrong Timing for Performing Cardio
While this is one aspect most people tend to overlook, timing plays an important role in exercise, and cardio is the perfect example of it. Most people go to the gym to lift weights, and they usually start off with cardio. However, according to numerous researches, this routine of doing cardio before weight lifting has a detrimental impact on your muscle mass.
If you really want to go for cardio while you’re at the gym to lift weights, then you should always do cardio after weight lifting. Ideally, it would be best to avoid cardio altogether when you are lifting weights. This means that you could perform cardio during some other time of the day and not when you are weight lifting.
In case you’re wondering, the reason behind saying no to cardio before weight lifting is that cardio drains most of your energy, leaving you with very little stamina for working hard on your muscles. It is usually recommended to have a six-hour gap between your cardio and weight lifting sessions to minimize any chances of muscle loss.
Not Knowing What Type of Cardio to Perform
We’re sure you all know that there are various types of cardio workouts. Running, skipping rope, jogging, sprinting are all different types of cardio workouts. However, all these workouts are performed at different intensity levels. For instance, the sprints are a high-intensity cardio workout as opposed to jogging.
That being said, when you indulge in a high-intensity cardio routine, your body takes longer to recover, and it reduces the amount of muscle mass in your body as well. This is particularly harmful to the hard-earned gains in your lower body. Therefore, if you want your muscle mass to remain safe, you must perform low-intensity cardio workouts such as a light jog or cycling.
Excessive Cardio Workouts
Excess of everything is bad, and cardio is no different. There are some people who try to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Therefore, they consider cardio as the perfect way of burning the excess fat in their body. Performing excessive cardio will allow you to burn more calories, but it’s certainly not the ideal way of losing extra body fat.
However, if you want to build muscle, then you will need some energy or calories for it as well. Therefore, burning excessive calories will only lead to delayed progression in muscle building. Hence, you should try to burn any extra calories by managing your diet and not focusing on an intense cardio routine.
There is also a recommended amount of cardio sessions, and they are no more than three times a week. These sessions last for twenty to thirty minutes, and they can vary in intensity as well, according to your preference. Furthermore, any additional changes in the number of calories burned can be done through dietary modifications.
How to Build Muscle While Performing Cardio?
Now that we are done discussing the mistakes usually made by people that lead to muscle-burning, we will talk about the ways you can build muscle while performing cardio.
Adequate Dietary Intake
When it comes to working on your body, diet plays the main role. There is a common misconception where most people assume that exercise has a more important role in muscle building or weight loss. It’s actually 70% diet and 30% exercise. Therefore, having ample macronutrients with a special focus on protein intake is very important if you want to retain your muscle mass, even with cardio.
Build Your Muscles Well Enough
While there is always a chance of losing muscle mass due to cardio, you can minimize the likelihood of cardio burning muscles by building them strong enough that they won’t budge. This can be done through extensive weight-lifting and weight training. If you spend enough time training your muscles, nothing will be able to burn them.
Get Ample Rest
While working out and eating is super important for building your muscles strong enough that they become invincible to being burned, it is also essential for you to get proper rest, giving your body enough time to rest. If you don’t rest or don’t have a break between your extensive workout sessions, your body will overwork itself, and this will result in muscle loss.
It takes energy and time to build muscles, and it takes a lot of effort to retain them as well. However, if you’re aware of the common cardio mistakes and make sure to avoid them, you can build muscle mass while performing cardio. You must also make sure you are mindful of your dietary regime while working on your muscles.