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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Whoa, Hold Up.. There's A Such Thing As "Too Much" Cardio?

Cardio…we all do it. Most of us hate it, a few of us (lunatics) love it. But cardio is a legitimate and necessary component to good health and well being. And without cardio, many of us could get cardiovascular diseases, gain weight, and would live an unhealthy lifestyle leading to negative self-image. But hey, if you’re planning on losing weight, did you know that there is such a thing as doing “too much cardio.” Hey, I don’t make this stuff up.

Women running on treadmill | www.ThefittestBlogger.com

Doing cardio is nothing new in fitness. Neither is doing an excessive amount of cardio each day. You must do it if you want to burn calories. Whether it is circuit training, swimming, Zumba, or running, one must get some type of cardiovascular activity done each week.

But losing weight, or gaining muscle mass is a synergistic recipe that includes weight training, cardio, and eating the right whole foods at the right proportions. It is not all about how many miles you ran this week.

Unfortunately, there are misinformed individuals who think they can just do cardio and lose a sh*tload of weight.

Nope, sorry to tell you this, but you are not a 16 year old full of raging hormones any more. Your body will not burn fat at the rate you were previously blessed with in your youth. Even run a few miles every day, you will not see the results you seek.

Now don’t get me wrong, many individuals are blessed with extremely fast metabolisms and can still burn excess calories at their leisure. But to really burn calories, and keep them off, your main course of action cannot just be cardio.

In fact, there have been recent studies that show that doing too much cardio can actually have adverse effects and cause you to gain weight.

Why is doing too much cardio a bad thing?

Excessive cardio can lead to overtraining which will lead you to plateau. In many cases overtraining will have you moving backwards instead of progressing forwards towards your goals.

According to the American Council on Exercise, signs of overtraining include:
      • You feel more exhausted than invigorated afterward. 
      • Performance decreases.
      • Loss of coordination and prolonged recovery.
      • Elevated morning heart rate and elevated blood pressure.
      • Headaches/ migraines.
      • Loss of appetite (imperative to remember this sign).
      • Muscle soreness and disturbed sleep patterns.

Excessive cardio can lead to muscles catabolizing themselves as a source of energy. When you do cardio, your body will use whatever calories necessary to continually fuel the body with energy. Once carbs in the body are converted into glucoses and depleted, the body will then use any protein molecules as a source of energy. Even the protein molecules in your muscles can be used as a form of energy before the body ever uses its last emergency funds; fat cells.

And without properly fueling yourself with proteins and carbs, your body will go into this catabolic state and muscle loss will occur. 

Loss in muscle won’t necessarily reduce your strength, but with less muscle, your body will require less food to maintain and adversely cause your metabolism to slow down. 

runners | www.TheFittestBlogger.comExcessive cardio can lead to loss of appetite.  Now remember, I mentioned that this sign was imperative or really important to keep track of.

What happens when you lose your appetite? Some people think, you’ll starve and lose a lot of weight. But this is not necessarily true. 

Your body is truly a beautiful work of art in that it is automatically hard wired to prolong your life and protect your organs. So when you lose your appetite, the first thing that happens is your metabolism slows down.

Once your metabolism slows down, you stop eating as much. When you stop easting as much, your body will go into “fight or flight mode.”

In an effort to protect itself - if starvation is not as severe as you literally not eating for days to weeks at a time - then your body will save excess calories in the form of fat.

It’s like a backup function on your hard drive which is programmed to save floating memory around on the RAM in an effort to protect your computer’s data. If your body sense that starvation is occurring, whenever you eat, it will try to save those calories in the form of fat as an emergency source of energy to keep the body going.

How to prevent excessive cardio

Look, there is no exact estimate of how much cardio you are doing can be considered as excessive. But if you’re not a distance runner or athlete training for endurance then I would recommend no more than 60 minutes at a moderate pace and no more than 30-40 minutes of high intensity cardio.

My prescription for preventing excessive cardio looks like this:
      • 2 days a week high intensity (greater than 85% of your max heart rate).
      • 2-3 moderate intensity (70-85% of your max heart rate).

There will always be some sort of muscle loss when doing cardio, but this prescription should keep that to a minimum. That and having an adequate amount of protein and simple carbs readily available after a workout.

You can also do high intensity interval training which combines short bursts and strength training into a workout. With my personal favorite being Sprint intervals.

Don’t forget the signs in today’s article and you will remain on track to reaching the goals you seek. Happy Lifting! #theFittest

Did I miss anything in this article or do you have a story to share about your cardio regimen? Comment below and don’t forget to like and share this article with someone who loves cardio.

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