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 Post subject: Don't understand how cardio burns muscle?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 3:51 pm 
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Finch

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Ok, so my goal is to compete in fitness competitions.

It seems as though some of the women (who compete) do cardio? However, I read that just as many don't and I read in a lot of these posts that doing cardio burns muscle. How does cardio burn muscle if the diet is right? And wouldn't cardio strengthen leg muscle? I still have some fat to burn, shouldn't I do some cardio?
Isn't cardio a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle?
I'm still very much a novice so this really confuses me :?:


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 Post subject: Re: Don't understand how cardio burns muscle?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:05 pm 
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Stegosaurus
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Cardio, in moderation, seems to be fine for most people to not cause them to lose muscle. However, I can personally attest that doing too much will cause plenty of muscle loss, as years ago I did 3-6 mile runs 4-5 nights per week without taking in enough food, and I lost my muscle gains I'd buit the previous year. Of course, I was probably undereating by 800+ calories per day along with running, so I'm sure that the combination sent my body into a tailspin, causing it to cannibalize precious muscle tissue as a preferred food source (I did still have a bit of a gut on me even after all the running, long and intense cardio does NOT burn fat for me to make it worth the effort).

Basically, too little protein and too much intense cardio can shift your body from using fat as a preferred fuel source to change it to wanting to use muscle, which is why some people have found that cardio can hinder progress. If you're going to do more than 30-45 minutes of moderate cardio 2-3 times weekly, I'd strongly suggest upping your protein intake significantly to help reduce the chances of muscle loss, and to not drastically reduce calories in conjunction with excessive cardio unless you want to watch those hard-earned muscle gains disappear over time.

Cardio won't necessarily do much to build any size or strength in the legs - if that were the case, then why is it that distance runners typically have small, slight builds with minimal excess muscle mass? Here's my favorite comparison to show the physical difference of those doing long, excessive cardio training vs. short bursts of intense cardio but who are competing in the same general activity (runners vs. sprinters) -

Image

Image

The distance runners typically have a fairly high percentage of body fat compared to sprinters, and they certainly have far less muscle (the rigors of multi-hour endurance training will prime the body to eliminate all non-essential muscle, but somehow tends to leave a fair amount of overall bodyfat). By the theory that running or doing leg-based cardio for long periods of time with high intensity would build muscle, it's the same as saying that doing curls with a 4 oz. weight in each hand for an hour straight each day should build arms like a pro bodybuilder - it just doesn't work that way, as "feeling the burn" or being sore is NOT an indicator of muscle growth or strength gain progress. Quite often, my best periods of progress were during times that I pushed myself hard but barely felt sore afterward.

Like I said, I once thought that running=fat loss and assumed that more was better, but reality definitely set me straight on that. Now, I either do short-burst intense cardio such as pushing/pulling weighted sleds for 100 feet, flipping tractor tires, etc. or will take 30-40 minute max. time power walks keeping my heart rate at around 65% of max. Cardio work can be done in plenty of ways, and doesn't need to be 100% all-out intense for anything but short periods if you do push yourself to the maximum.

I'm sure others will be able to shed more advice as well!

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 Post subject: Re: Don't understand how cardio burns muscle?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:38 pm 
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Elephant
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I Have been getting all my cardio by jogging 6 miles per hour....at least an hour a day...I'm pretty sure I eat enough calories....I net 1450 and have been getting 2x my body weight in protein....Now I dont know what to do!

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 Post subject: Re: Don't understand how cardio burns muscle?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 8:56 pm 
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Stegosaurus
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jungleinthefrunk wrote:
I Have been getting all my cardio by jogging 6 miles per hour....at least an hour a day...I'm pretty sure I eat enough calories....I net 1450 and have been getting 2x my body weight in protein....Now I dont know what to do!


Some people aren't going to be as negatively affected by doing a fair amount of running, but keep in mind as to what your goals are. Cardio won't do any good for building muscle and has a chance of hindering lean mass gains, but if you aren't training to gain and are eating enough and don't see any negative effects, then you may one who can do a fair amount of cardio without suffering for it in other ways. But, if you are looking to gain lean mass, more cardio = more challenge for gaining, just something to consider. If in question, get a reliable bodyfat measurement soon (a good 7-point measurement, not a 3-point or one of those 'bodyfat scale' things), do it again in 2 months, and compare. Nothing tells the tale like an accurate bodyfat reading, and nothing makes a person want to cut back on the cardio like being told that much of the weight they lost was lean mass, not just fat! I had an experience like that once years ago, thought that I should be happy when I came in 10 lbs. lighter after 6 weeks of undereating and intense cardio, only to find that my bodyfat levels had INCREASED during that time.

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 Post subject: Re: Don't understand how cardio burns muscle?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:00 pm 
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Elephant
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I want to gain mass and get into a competition!!!! How would one get a reading? I do lift a lot and eat a crap load of food...2800 cals a day...250 protein. Do you have any suggestions of an activity that would burn the same amount of calories as running 10 miles per hour....for 60-100 mins a day? Ive been reading up about competitions and they say that when in season you have to wake up early and do cario...and then do it again before you go to bed...

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 Post subject: Re: Don't understand how cardio burns muscle?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 9:28 pm 
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Stegosaurus
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jungleinthefrunk wrote:
I want to gain mass and get into a competition!!!! How would one get a reading? I do lift a lot and eat a crap load of food...2800 cals a day...250 protein. Do you have any suggestions of an activity that would burn the same amount of calories as running 10 miles per hour....for 60-100 mins a day? Ive been reading up about competitions and they say that when in season you have to wake up early and do cario...and then do it again before you go to bed...


If you train at a commercial gym, any of the trainers nearby should be able to do a quick measurement for you with a calipers. If not, find a gym in your area and see if someone will do it for a few bucks - some places will charge $5 or $10 for a quick measurement session and assessment, which isn't bad if you only want to get one done every few months vs. being obsessive and doing it weekly. You CAN do them yourself, however, it's easier (and usually more reliable) to have someone else do it for you, but also be sure to have the same person do it each time to keep the readings as consistent as possible.

I've never competed as a bodybuilder and am not a diet "guru" by any means, so there are other people who may be able to shed more light on this. However, I believe it was VeggiePrincess from the board here who once (maybe about 2 years back) had been posting a lot about how she only finally figured out how to get into competition shape once she started doing only low-intensity cardio for shorter periods (again, 30-45 minutes @ 60-70% max heart rate) and that she had been in a rut for a long time while believing that intense long-duration cardio was key. Others such as xjohanx have had a lot of posts from a back a ways (about a year or so) about things such as intermittent fasting for fat loss and the success he'd had with going that route (and he was shredded as hell!). Others posted their success with HIIT High intensity interval training, doing things such as sprint 60 seconds, walk 60 seconds, repeat for something like 8-10 rounds and that's it. Lots of ways you can do it.

One thing to note, if you're after a target caloric intake for your perceived fat loss goals, there are other ways of working around it than forcing yourself to do long-term cardio to balance things out.

For example, let's say, you're aiming to be at 1500 net calories after all training has been done for the day and deductions have been made for physical activity via running and weight training. Now, say you're eating 2800 calories/day on training days, but need to run for 60-80 minutes to reach your net calorie count goal that you're aiming for. Rather than have to stuff yourself with more food to sustain the longer training then force yourself to run every day to balance out the calories, you may want to take a look back at your diet and refine from the base. Perhaps cut down the total calories by 5-10%, (maybe by doing something like cutting carbs by 10-20% and increasing protein 5-10%), that could instantly keep protein intake high and reduce a few hundred calories to reduce the time you need to spend doing long-term cardio, while still keeping you "balanced" for the numbers you want to stay at. Otherwise, it's akin to driving to a gas station that's 3 hours away vs. the local station, only to have to refuel again to make it home; you always want to find a way to work SMART, as sometimes only working HARD means doing more and getting the same or less in return than a superior approach you may not have tried yet. It becomes a bit self-defeating if you take in extra calories and then feel compelled to burn them off constantly, so it sometimes is best to refine the diet a bit from the core plan, change macronutrient ratios around a bit, and see if you can possibly make a few cuts to avoid needing to do so much cardio to achieve the balance you're after.

Last year, when I got my bodyfat the lowest it has been in a while and finally got my weight under 230 lbs. (which I hadn't done in many years), I barely did cardio, but found that what worked best for me was to cut carbs significantly, up the protein and fat, and only do a few power walks for short durations here and there. I had MUCH better results than when I try to rely on cardio as the main fat loss tool - as they say, good abs are built in the kitchen, not on the track! :)

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"A 'hardgainer' is merely someone who hasn't bothered to try enough different training methods to learn what is actually right for their own damned body." - anonymous


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