Does Cardio Really Kill Your Gains?

If you’ve been taking your fitness advice from your local gym, you’ve likely heard the idea that even looking at a cardio machine can make your hard-earned muscle gains disappear overnight. While this is certainly not the case, there is he Some advantages of the legend. Multiple studies exist, both supporting and denying the perceived effects of cardiovascular training on strength progression. All of this conflicting information can definitely leave you in a mess when it comes to planning your weekly routines.

Now, this does not mean that there are no benefits of training for improving the cardiovascular system. Many athletes can still achieve a healthy routine through aerobic exercise. Confusion arises, however, when you start mixing cardio with more anaerobic methods.

So, does heart disease affect muscular growth? It is not as cut and dry as many would like. The best answer, of course, lies in how you structure your training, what your intended goals are and how you view each discipline. Here are some answers that explain how this myth came about, as well as some tips on how to efficiently add cardio training to your regular strength regimens.

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How cardio can affect your strength totals

It can harm the pathways of cells.

One of the most scientific way to view how to do cardio may be Hinder your muscle growth by looking at cell pathways that promote adaptive fitness. The body has two pathways for cell metabolism and growth: the mTOR pathway and the AMPK pathway. While the mTOR pathway is more active during anaerobic exercise such as lifting or other methods of resistance training, the AMPK pathway is more attuned to aerobic training, i.e. cardio. Activating both pathways back-to-back can lead to less protein synthesis in the mTOR pathway, which in turn can lead to less muscle growth.

It will tire you out.

When considering combining aerobic exercise with strength-based exercise, you need to consider these two separate exercises. And what do you think you’ll feel after going through two sessions in a row? Fatigue of course.

Starting your workout with a treadmill run or an extended cycling session can leave you feeling tired and expended when it comes to those scheduled lifts, giving the impression that your lower-intensity training is a result of cardio. The same effects can be felt if you perform a cardio session after your prescribed strength training, which puts your body under greater stress and thus requires longer recovery time outside of the gym. When it’s time to get back in the gym, your body can still feel the results of yesterday’s double. This fatigue can leave many athletes reluctant to combine the two regimens, rather choosing one or the other than fine-tuning their regimens for better results (more on that later).

There is less time for protein synthesis.

We all know that muscle growth is not just the result of performing in the gym. You need to match your training efforts with a well thought out and effective nutrition plan, too, if you want to see those huge gains. One of the most effective ways to make sure your body is fueled properly is by giving it the nutrients it needs at the right times, mainly after a strength training session. While there are debates about when this “anabolic window” is, the rule of thumb is to try and get it. Something into your system approximately 30-45 minutes after anaerobic training. Adding a secondary exercise after your cardio lift doesn’t help you meet your deadline now, does it?

Workout on the rowing machine

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Despite these potential drawbacks, there are still plenty of benefits to addressing both cardio and strength training in your overall fitness journey. Blood pressure, improved cholesterol, vascular health, and more are just a few of the perks that can come with the right schedule, but why are so many delaying in making up their schedules for both disciplines? Like your secured credit card, it’s all about how you use it.

How to efficiently combine cardio and strength training

Space out your workouts.

No matter where you focus, it’s best to separate cardio from strength training whenever possible. After all, your body needs time to recover if you want to maximize your production whether you’re running toward a new best time or chasing that mega squat total. Find space for cardio and lifting sessions on different days, as this can help relieve any extended fatigue while still giving your sessions the variety that’s always appreciated.

Plan your sessions accordingly.

I get it, not everyone’s schedules can accommodate multiple modalities throughout the week, but if you must do both aerobic and anaerobic exercise on the same day, bring some proper planning into your schedule. Avoid signing up for extended cardio sessions when you know you’re about to embark on an intense muscle-sculpting session. This means forgoing any multi-mile hikes or rides that last more than 60 minutes. Also, you better time your cardio workouts After, after your lifts, as this can keep your energy more focused on resistance training. Think about it, where do you want your energy most—that PR deadlift or that jog for a mile on the treadmill?

Prioritize low-impact modalities.

When you’re looking to combine both cardio and strength training, not every workout is a total hit and run. If you want to get the most out of both ways, look for lower-impact exercises like rowing or cycling instead of running on a treadmill for example. Running itself can be just as high-impact as your load-bench sessions, thanks to the force and pressure put on your joints with every step. Combining this training with strength training can often leave your body drained and unable to recover properly before the next regimen. Instead, find cardio routines that will put less stress on these joints. These techniques can add to your overall anaerobic routine, working multiple muscle groups while still providing the needed cardio burn.

Cardio and strength training are not mortal enemies when it comes to building the perfect fitness routine. Keep these tips in mind and dispel those old phrases today.

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