Does Cardio Ruin Muscle Gains?


Does Cardio Ruin Muscle Gains?

by Amanda Jane Snyder
Does Cardio Ruin Muscle Gains?Photo byAmanda Jane Snyder

Does Cardio Ruin Muscle Gains?

I’ve spent most of my career promoting weight training, or at least resistance training of some sort. Why? First of all, I enjoy it myself. This is the first form of exercise where I could actually sustain and maintain a routine. I didn't feel like dying after! Plus, damn did I look good.

But enough about me, resistance training has so many benefits including preventing osteopenia and osteoporosis. It is the key component to achieving that desired “toned” look that everyone and their mother seems to be after; you cannot achieve the aesthetics of “toned” muscles without muscle… plain and simple. Additionally, resistance training puts your body out of its natural state: homeostasis. Your body ends up burning calories 24 hours AFTER you complete the workout as your body works to get back to homeostasis. Weight training has aided me in shaping my body exactly the way I want it. I’ve felt strong, I look good. Did I mention I look good!?

Plus, the more muscle you have, the better you are at burning fat. More muscle mass means a higher metabolic rate. A higher metabolic rate means more calories burned while resting.


But what about cardio? Isn't cardiovascular exercise important for health too?

Don’t get me wrong, cardiovascular exercise has its place. It is important for our heart health! And what about that high calorie burn after each session? Just this past weekend I ran the NYC Runs Brooklyn Half Marathon and burned over 1500 calories in one run! That's a lot of calories burned! But hold on, so high calorie burn is a good thing? Not necessarily.

High Calorie Burn Doesn’t Result in Fat Loss

Ever thought about this? The more energy you’re burning… the hungrier you are. Believe it or not it IS possible to still GAIN weight even while burning 1500 calories in one workout. HOW? By eating MORE calories than you burn throughout the day. Even if you're burning 1500 calories in one cardio session but you're still consuming more calories than you're burning, it is possible to gain weight. And if you're not resistance training but eating more calories, the weight you're likely gaining is fat. And here’s the catch with cardio: if you are in a caloric deficit, when you’re burning calories through endurance training, you’re not just burning fat, but more likely muscle. Excessive cardio can quickly deplete muscle glycogen levels, and when this happens the body begins to break down muscle protein for energy.

So what's the best way to prevent the breakdown of muscles?

Balance. Super sexy, I know. If you have a personal goal of achieving an endurance event such as a marathon, or a triathlon, go for it! Just make sure you are supplementing with resistance training and eating enough protein and calories to prevent muscle loss and injury.

Endurance events are a great mindset challenge. They are tough mentally. But they aren't always optimal for our health. If you are looking for optimal health, try balancing resistance training with cardio. 3-4 days a week of resistance training paired with low intensity steady state cardio for 150 minutes a day will help to maintain a lean and healthy body!

Amanda Jane Snyder is a Certified Nutrition Coach, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and Mindset Coach living in Brooklyn, NY. She has been vegan since 2016. She specializes in Strength and Conditioning for Actors, Singers, and Dancers.

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Amanda is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Coach and a Lifestyle/Mindset Coach living in Brooklyn, NY! In the midst of the ever-changing fitness industry chock full of fad diets, Amanda uses her program Forever Fit to help clients find true success through habit change, routine, and making health and fitness apart of their LIFESTYLE! She combines her love for the performing arts with her love of fitness to help actors, singers, and dancers create career longevity.

Brooklyn, NY

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