Does cardio kill gains?
The muscle-building community is filled with theories and assumptions without any logical reasoning. One such old tale is “does cardio kill gains?” While many studies surround the subject, they are usually all in bits and pieces. This blog will attempt to connect all the dots while erasing all the confusion about the impact of cardio on muscles. However, before that, it is essential to understand what cardio is.
What is cardio?
As the word suggests, cardio is the gym slang for cardiovascular exercises. Or, in layman’s terms, activities that condition the heart. Something that separates cardio from most other forms of training is that cardio is more inclined towards burning calories than building muscles. That’s why many people do cardio exercises to lose weight, as it’s one of the best ways to burn fat. Because you need to be in a calorie surplus if you want to build muscles, many people think cardio hinders muscle growth. Another reason why people believe cardio exercises ruin muscle gains is that most cardio exercises do not target specific muscle groups for example running. But as you will see later, there’s a way around that too.
Does cardio kill gains?
Before we dive into it, it is imperative to establish that humans are limited by time, working capacity, stamina etc. So whether cardio directly impacts muscle gains or not, it will eventually restrict your ability to lift if you go all-out on cardio right before your workout. That will ultimately affect your gains, especially if you’re strictly bulking. According to a study, it was found that there at least needs to be a six-hour difference between the two different forms of workouts to maximize results. So if you’re doing a gym session in the morning, you should do cardio at least 6 hours later to give your body ample time to recover.
Secondly, as far as cardio’s direct impact is concerned, it depends on your exercises, current shape, and priorities. Long marathons every day will hinder muscle growth and might even break down muscle if you can’t keep up with your body’s recovery and nutritional requirements. That is because long-distance running requires lots of energy. And if you’re strictly bulking, you might not be left with extra calories to build muscles or the power to give your all in the gym. Instead, you can count on cycling or even short brisk walks. Both exercises are known to positively impact muscle growth with cycling being better. You can have 2-3 such sessions every week without sacrificing muscle gains. It is important to have your cardio sessions when you’re not feeling sore. So if you are, it is better to take a rest and continue with your workouts when you have recovered.
Best way out
Another way to supplement your workouts with cardio is doing short bursts of intense cardio or HIIT. Out of all the cardio exercises, HIIT has the highest impact on building muscles. Ideally, you should give precedence to intensity over volume for the best results. Plus, you will love HIIT if you have a thing for lean muscle mass and explosiveness.
How to do cardio the correct way to build muscles?
Firstly, if you’re strictly bulking, it is important to give lifting weights their due and not pair cardio with it. Sometimes people start with an intense cardio session, and by the end of it, they don’t have much left in the tank, which is why they struggle to gain muscles. If your sole purpose is to bulk, cardio should be an afterthought and lower in priority than lifting weights. Complete your quota of lifting weights, recover and then think about cardio. Even if you want to do cardio, ideally, you should do it on alternate days so that your body has recovered. Don’t have 30-40 minutes sessions every day. Instead, try having 2-3 sessions every week.
In a nutshell, when not overdone, cardio, in most cases, will not hinder muscle growth and might even help it. But at the same time, even when done correctly, it cannot be your primary route to building muscles. However, it can help you with some other things that indirectly impact muscle growth in the long term, such as quicker recovery.
Conclusion: does cardio kill gains?
Conclusively, cardio’s impact on your body depends on your goals and how you manage your workload. When done correctly, cardio should not ruin your gains. However, if you will commit the mistakes mentioned in this blog, then the chances are that your cardio sessions will be counter-productive. If you want to get swole, then it is recommended that you don’t go all out on cardio. Instead, have 2-3 short sessions every week. However, if you want to cut fat while gaining muscles, you can have a cardio session every day, depending on your goals. Another reason why most people miss the boat with cardio is inadequate nutrition. Their bodies don’t get appropriate nutrients to support the combination of both. That’s why it’s recommended to have ample carbs and proteins. A good rule of thumb is to have 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight.
Lastly, you can use powerful supplements like SD Matrix and Matrix Black if you want to build muscles quickly. These supplements are very strong and have many other benefits like faster recovery. Apart from helping you pack muscles quickly, they will also increase your appetite and working capacity. This way, you’ll be able to spend a lot more time in the gym and would be able to do cardio sessions more often.