Cardio really does get bashed heavily by the bodybuilding industry, and I am going to let you know does cardio burn muscle. Bodybuilders in their off season steer clear of cardio at all costs like it’s the black death.
[Does cardio burn muscle, they say there is no smoke without fire, so lets check this out]
Does Cardio Burn Muscle?
Before I give you a conclusive answer on does cardio burn muscle, we first need to examine a few things.
What Does Cardio Require of Your Body?
Cardio is based around repetitive body movements, which elevate your heart rate and keep it elevated for a period of time. Cardio isn’t limited to just running around the common. It can take place in many forms such as circuit training, pyramid set training, (funny that bodybuilders don’t realise their main training tool is cardio in nature), interval training aka HIIT workouts, and even sex.
When performing cardio, there is an order in which your energy systems are used. These are:
- Carbohydrates from your food as well as glycogen, which is stored in your muscles.
- Fats from food and your stored body fat.
- Protein, amino acids from muscle tissue.
So to avoid losing muscle, one would want to train up to a certain time before protein starts to be used as energy. This is where your body goes into a catabolic state since it has used the energy already assigned for the task from the first 2 and to sustain the energy output the body begins to feed off its own muscles to fuel itself.
When Does This Happen?
It is generally accepted in the fitness industry that this tends to happen if you are performing cardio for more than one hour. I only perform all forms of cardio for about 45 minutes maximum anyway except if I am playing sport , but 45 minutes shouldn’t you in a catabolic state.
But What About Sports That are Longer Than One Hour?
Well yes, technically they would be entering this catabolic state, but there are ways to prolong yourself from entering into this mode. So if you were building muscle and also played a lot of sports I would suggest two things.
- Carb Loading- eat quite a big carbohydrate meal 2-3 hours before you start to ensure you are using as much carbohydrate to fuel the activity as possible.
- If you do your sport at least 3 times a week, avoid cardio after strength/muscle training, as the sport will be your form of cardio.
So can you lose muscle from running?
Yes and no. From chronic cardio sessions like marathon running, most certainly, you only have to look at their bodies to see that. Then on the other hand look at Cristiano Ronaldo above. Also think of sprinters, basketball players etc. Do they look like they lack muscle?
What if I Only Care About Building Muscle? Should I not do cardio?
I would give you a big fat hell no, cardio improves your performance and also aids in your recovery from resistance training by transporting blood and oxygen to the muscles. It makes you more fit, which can benefit your lifts as to build mass you need to fatigue the muscle which includes lots of reps and sets with minimal rest and having good cardiovascular fitness will help this. Often I see people in the gym who cant perform what they are doing, not because their muscles give way but because they’re out of breath.
Does Cardio Burn Muscle Summary
You now know the answer to the question does cardio burn muscle? Yes it does, under certain conditions, but by eating sensibly and not training for over an hour regularly, you can prevent muscle mass loss. You also learnt that cardio can in fact help build muscle, so remember guys cardio is good for your health so incorporate it into your schedule but don’t over do it.
If you are really worried about does cardio burn muscle, consider taking BCAA’s.