Archive for the tag - muscle loss

Is Your Cardio Killing Your Results?

Results like these don't come from endless cardio sessions. Just saying...

There is a delightful older woman at my gym who spends 60 minutes on the treadmill each day. She walks at a moderate but steady pace, and complains endlessly about the lack of results she is getting from her workout. And yet she continues to do more of the same. Like many gym goers, her cardio program is killing her results.

There are a few reasons why endless cardio sessions don’t serve you well:

  1. If you’re doing more than 45-minutes of cardio, you’re entering into the “danger zone” at which point your body will start burning muscle – not fat.
  2. Since long sessions of monotonous cardio result in muscle loss, the effect is a decrease in the body’s metabolism (as muscle is a large driver of your metabolism). In other words, the body will burn fewer calories throughout the day because of muscle loss. For some people, this could even mean gaining weight.
  3. It’s time consuming! 60-minutes on the treadmill is time better used elsewhere… like in the free weight or strength training section of your gym. Or even time better spent doing some fitness research, like reading this blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

There are two quick fixes for endless, monotonous cardio sessions:

  1. Interval training. I keep my cardio sessions relatively short – but extremely effective – by using interval training. In a nutshell, it’s all about varying between intensities on cardio machines – from medium intensity to high intensity. I jog for 90 seconds and then sprint for 60. After 15 minutes, I’m totally beat! It burns more calories than long cardio sessions, and has a huge positive effect on metabolism.
  2. Strength training. I can’t say it enough: Any comprehensive fitness program needs to include both cardio and strength training. If you are just doing cardio, then you are killing your results. Everyone needs to hit the weights as well – especially if your goals include weight loss.

Are you in a long, monotonous cardio rut? Tell us about it in the comments below. And I hope this post can be a light at the end of that results-killing tunnel!

And note: Today is the last day to save 25% off of my Ultimate Guide to Working Out – and it’s the last chance to get Underwear Yoga as a free gift. Through my program, we’ll create a fitness program that is customized to your results. Use discount code “buddy” during checkout to save 25%.

Does Cardio Result in Muscle Loss?

Hi Davey

I was just wondering if doing a lot of cardio adversely affects muscle growth?


Hey Kyle,

Yes, doing excessive cardio can cause you to lose muscle. But you’d have to do A LOT of cardio to see any real reductions in muscle size. There’s no cut and dry definition for what “a lot” means – and it’s different for different people – but unless you’re doing more than 45 minutes – 60 minutes of cardio, you probably have nothing about which to worry.

Don’t let the fear of losing muscle prevent you from enjoying the many benefits of cardiovascular exercise including:

  • Fat loss
  • Stronger heart and lungs
  • Increased bone density
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and some types of cancer
  • Temporary relief from depression and anxiety
  • More confidence about how you feel and how you look
  • Better sleep
  • More energy

Moreover, cardio can actually help with your strength training – it improves blood flow and oxygen transport to your muscles, which helps with muscle growth and recovery.

Muscle loss more often occurs if:

  • You’re not eating enough protein. Protein is the building block of muscle. Find out how much you should be eating.
  • You’re not eating enough carbs. Yup. Carbs are needed in the creation of muscles. This is why I recommend eating a slice of bread with a protein shake since so many shakes are low carb.
  • You are not eating enough calories. If you’re starving, your body will remove the tissue that burns the most calories: muscle.
  • You are not training with weights or strength training machines. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it!

Hope that helps – and keep up the cardio!

Does Cardio Prevent Muscle Gain?

Dear Davey

I’m trying to increase my muscle mass and so I do a lot of lifting and strength training. I also do some cardiovascular exercise like runging and sometimes biking. Is it possible that my cardio is preventing me from getting better results?

– Concerned in Montana

Dear Concerned in Montana,

You probably have nothing to worry about – but you’re certainly in good company. A lot of people are afraid to run, swim or bike because they believe their muscle mass will decrease. And there is some truth to this fear.

If you are training for a marathon or running vast distances every day, then yes – you’ll be limiting the amount of muscle that your body will add. But for the rest of us who run or jog or spin moderately, there is nothing about which to worry. If there is any muscle loss, it will be minimal.

If you’re still concerned about losing muscle mass, limit your cardio to 20 or 30 minutes a few times a week and monitor your progress. I, for example, am able to run six days a week and experience minimal muscle loss.

And conversely, cardio has many great benefits that all of us can enjoy, including:

  • Fat loss, toning
  • Stronger heart and lungs
  • Increased bone density
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced risk of heart disease and some types of cancer
  • Temporary relief from depression and anxiety
  • Increased confidence about how you feel and how you look
  • Better sleep
  • More energy

I hope that helps!