How much cardio is too much? Did you know that the first 20-30 minutes of cardio are useless? Whether you want to lose weight, get more defined, or burn fat around your waist, you need cardio. This type of exercise should be a key part of your workout. When combined with weight training, it can cause massive weight loss and increase your metabolism. Most women spend 30 to 60 minutes doing cardio, while men prefer less than 30 minutes. Some skip cardio because it hinders muscle gains.
So what’s the truth about cardio? Why so many people spend hours on the treadmill and still get no results? Here are some interesting facts about cardio:
• You can’t “undo” poor eating habits with cardio
• If you take in more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight regardless of how much cardio you do
• Doing cardio for more than 60 minutes will eventually slow down your metabolism and affect your health
• Too much cardio leads to muscles loss, which slows your metabolism
• If you don’t vary your cardio workouts, your body gets used with it and burns less energy
• Steady-state cardio adds next to nothing toward weight loss; however, it helps reduce muscle soreness and speeds up recovery
• 30 minutes of cardio for three times a week can help you burn fat without losing muscle
Too much cardio is just as bad as too little cardio. Strength training by itself helps burn more fat than cardiovascular exercises. However, most people enjoy cardio exercises more than weight training because of the euphoria they feel during aerobic activity. When you do cardio, your body releases feel-good chemicals to keep you from feeling the pain and fatigue induced by exercise. As a result, you may end up doing too much cardio.
What Happens When You Do Too Much Cardio?
Most people who do lots of cardio for weight loss end up losing muscle and get a puffy look caused by high cortisol levels. A combination of strength training and cardio is the single best way to lose fat and preserve muscle. Too much cardio can lead to muscle loss, stress, cardiovascular problems, overtraining, and fitness imbalance. The metabolic rate slows down, while your resting heart rate becomes unusually low.
Over time, it gets harder and harder to lose fat. In other words, too much cardio could prevent weight loss. The more cardio you do, the more you have to continue to do to get results. HIIT workouts along with weight training burn fat after the workout is over and help maintain muscle.
Studies indicate that too much cardio lowers testosterone levels and decreases lean body mass. It also increases cortisol levels and causes heart stiffening. Excess cardio burns up muscle, lowers your immune system, and raises stress hormones. To avoid these problems, opt for high intensity cardiovascular training. This way you’ll spend less time on the treadmill and still get maximum benefits. Don’t forget to eat well and get plenty of rest. These factors are essential for building muscle and losing fat.
How Much Cardio Do You Need? Is Cardio Better Before or after Weight Training?
In order to determine how much cardio you need, you have to understand the fat burning mechanism. Your body burns, in order:
• Muscle glycogen
• Liver glycogen
• Blood borne amino acids (BBA)
As you see, fat is last on the scale. It takes 20 to 30 minutes for your body to burn fat once you start doing cardio. In this interval, you will burn glycogen and BBAs. The first 20-30 minutes of cardio are a waste.
For optimal results, you should lift weights for at least 20 minutes and then do cardio exercises. This way, your muscles will be depleted of glycogen when you start doing cardio. Strength training does use up your glycogen stores. Even though glycogen depletion will not be complete, you’ll still get results. The human body stores about 2000 calories worth of glycogen. Once glycogen depletion occurs, you start burning fat.
An ideal cardio session should be around 45 minutes.
If you lift weights before aerobic training, you’ll only need 15-20 minutes of cardio. You’ll get the same benefits as you would do in 45 minutes without weight training. The difference is that if you lift weights before cardio, your metabolic rate will be higher throughout the day. This means you’ll burn calories even when you’re at rest.