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21 Comments

  1. Keith Lai
    May 8, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

    Good job busting some cardio myths Kevin. Honestly wasn’t too familiar that cardio can build muscle. Very interesting…

    Reply

    • Kevin
      June 1, 2012 @ 7:31 am

      Thanks Keith … yeah, not quite a “muscle building” exercise, but it certainly doesn’t prevent or hurt muscle building.

      Reply

  2. George Super Boot Camps
    May 9, 2012 @ 7:02 am

    I think that whilst the average Joe needs to stop being afraid of doing cardio when aiming for a good looking body, the post here needs a little clarification. I don’t say this to be particularly confrontational, I just want to expand things a little.

    With respect to cardio helping in the building of muscle, whilst I can accept that extra nutrient delivery could make a difference to how well nourished a muscle is, I also see a problem with excess stress, and confusing the body as to what you want it to do.

    Exercise is a form of stress, and when you want your body to put on new muscle, you want to apply the type of stress that will lead to an increase in muscle. This, as we all know, is weight training, or resistance training. When you apply the stress of cardio, even on a background of a greater stressor of resistance training, you dilute the hypertrophic effect of weight training.

    The study you quoted above is slightly off in this regard because it looked at muscle loss in people who are not interested in preserving or increasing muscle mass. I have no doubt that had these participants done some resistance training they would even have put on some muscle. But would it have been optimal? No chance.

    I also think that people who would be labelled as ‘hard gainers’ would be well advised to stay away from all but the lightest cardio, and only the occasional HIIT, just for the benefit of keeping oxygen delivery ability high.

    I totally stand with you on the protein front though; if you are going to do cardio, you might want to take steps to ensure that you do it with some amino acids floating around your bloodstream sot that your liver feels no need to start catabolising your won muscles!

    Just my 2c,
    Keep up the good work,
    George
    (ps in the last sentence of the penultimate paragraph you might want to add the word decrease, so that it doesn’t read like an increase in time will also occur…)

    Reply

  3. Angie
    May 9, 2012 @ 8:46 am

    Just had my home gym built by Backyard Rooms. Thanks for clarifying the myths on cardio, I was hesitant to order a treadmill for fear it would just take up space.

    I was also unaware that cardio builds muscle.

    Angie

    Reply

    • Kevin
      October 12, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

      You bet! … Not really a “muscle building” exercise, but good for the body and that can help build muscle.

      Reply

  4. Dave - Not Your Average Fitness Tips
    May 16, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

    I’m a big fan of cardio myself although the loss of muscle is always in the back of my head. As I worked through the advanced VI cardio routine, I did scale back a few times because I felt like my legs were too exhausted to do some of those lactate threshold intervals in the last few weeks. I figure if I’m getting enough protein and doing strength training, then muscle loss shouldn’t be a huge concern.

    Reply

    • Kevin
      June 1, 2012 @ 7:32 am

      Yep – I hear ya, it’s drilled into our heads that we’re going to lose muscle, but after giving it a shot you can see that it’s simply not true.

      Reply

  5. Alvaro L.
    May 24, 2012 @ 7:34 am

    I regularly lift weights 4x per week and run an average of 25-30 miles per week on trail and asphalt. So far, I have lost absolutely no muscle and the results with regards to my overall fitness have been outstanding. I have gotten leaner, stronger and can work harder at the gym, since I have more cardiovascular endurance. I think that “looking good” is important and you can achieve that with zero cardio, but the benefits of cardio to your overall physique and health are amazing. Therefore, I always recommend to at least do 15-30mins of cardio after their strength training routine. In order to lose muscle with cardio you would have to eat very poorly and/or do massive amounts of cardio, which the normal person never does.

    Reply

    • Kevin
      June 1, 2012 @ 7:33 am

      All true and well said!

      Reply

  6. nieves
    May 24, 2012 @ 8:59 am

    Truth is, my body changed for the worst when I was no longer able to run regularly (3-4 miles x 4 a week) due to a knee injury. I know I have a lot of muscle from regular weight training and cardio, I weight a lot for my size (130#, 5’1, 27-28 jeans) but all is covered in an inch of “blubber” that I can’t get rid of hard as I try.

    Reply

    • Kevin
      June 1, 2012 @ 7:35 am

      Nieves,
      I’ve got a bum knee too. For my cardio workouts I use the bike for anything with high intensity and the elliptical for low intensity … hopefully you can do at least these?

      Reply

      • nieves
        June 1, 2012 @ 9:41 am

        Thanks for the reply, Kevin. Yes, I do two variations of elliptical and it works fairly well, but the bike, much as I know it helps bores me to death! I try to bike to work (7 miles round trip) whenever i can, but don’t count it as cardio. Running kept me lean, though, and the other workouts not as much…

        Reply

  7. paul
    May 24, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

    Kevin,

    Your results speak for themselves really. I think one place where cardio can be a problem is where the cardio exercise (if done intensely or excessively) can interfere with recovery times, especially if you goal is strength gains in the legs and you program cardio around leg traininig without allowing time for recovery. Where I think it can be advantageous is when you want to run a deficit, calorie wise, and yet you want to ensure you get you RDI of micros. Easier to get RDI at maintenance than 500 cals belo. Great achievement. Good luck maintaining the results now that you did th hard work to get there. Cheers Paul

    Reply

    • Kevin
      June 1, 2012 @ 7:35 am

      Paul – agreed! Cardio does have it’s place and time.

      Reply

  8. Dave
    June 8, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

    Should I do cardio before or after weight training?

    Reply

    • Kevin
      June 11, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

      I’ve heard a few different opinions, but I personally feel that it’s much better to do cardio after you lift weights … I should put together an article on this 🙂

      One of the main reasons I like cardio afterwards is that you are able to lift heavy because you have all of your energy. Another plus is that after weight training much of your glycogen is depleted so the cardio will end up burning more fat.

      Reply

  9. javier
    July 1, 2012 @ 6:44 am

    Great article, i agree. I’m a runner, i run about 22 – 27 miles every week. I’m pretty thin, & i have not lose any muscle at all. My whole body got toner, stamina, & endurance. I hated when people say you should lift weights instead of cardio. I believe strength training is good, but i think cardio is better for the heart.

    Reply

    • Kevin
      October 12, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

      Thanks for the comment Javier!

      Reply

  10. Danny
    August 11, 2012 @ 6:52 am

    Hi Kevin, I’m looking to lose some muscle.

    I watch what I eat so I don’t have much fat but my arms are
    bigger than I’d like, just want to look slimmer. How would you
    go about losing muscle from your arms in a healthy way?

    Appreciate any advice you could give me.

    Reply

  11. Sanchito
    September 2, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

    hey Kevin

    Got a question: Instead of doing cardio like just running, is doing cardio in the form of an AMRAP (as many rounds/reps as possible) for example as cardio I sometimes do 20 minute AMRAP of burpees, or 30 minutes of Burpees + push ups + bodyweight squats .. is that also an acceptable form of cardio?

    thanks Kevin

    Reply

    • Kevin
      October 12, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

      It really depends on what you’re training for. That will build endurance but not much strength and not muscle gain.

      Reply

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