Does cardio help build muscle?
This is a question I get asked over and over again…
We’ve all heard about the benefits of well-rounded exercise regimes; variety is key they say.
So why is it such a struggle to summon the effort for a cardio workout?
Too often we opt for strength-training; seeing it as the easier option with less commitment. The logic is something like: “easier to pump iron than spend hours puffing and panting away on the treadmill.”
Sounds about right?
In fact, many are afraid of losing their valuable gains, so they avoid cardio at all costs. There is some truth in this fear; when performed too often, cardio can indeed lead to muscle loss.
However, when done RIGHT, cardio can be used to effectively build muscle.
Cardio and strength training can go hand-in-hand to build a faster, fitter, and better you.
That’s right, by incorporating cardio into your exercise regime it is possible to build more muscle.
In this post, you’re going to find out exactly how cardiovascular exercise builds strength, and what types of exercise will bring you the results you are looking for.
Why You Should Combine Cardio With Strength Building Exercise
All exercise, aerobic or anaerobic, requires oxygen to fuel its work.
Oxygen is transported through blood by the heart, and this is why a healthy heart is a strong body.
One cannot exist without the other.
Weightlifting and other forms of anaerobic exercise push your heart to its limit, demanding that blood be delivered quickly to your muscles.
Cardio is the most effective form of exercise for building a stronger heart. During cardio exercise, your heart is worked for an extended period of time; building up resilience and strength.
And who does not want a strong heart?
“In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. Each minute, more than one person in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.”
Reference: cdc.gov – Heart Disease Fact Sheet
The more strain you place on your muscles during exercise, the more muscle fibers are damaged- this is why weightlifting is a particularly intensive form of exercise.
Post-workout, the body needs time to rest, repair, and rebuild. This is where cardio comes in.
Cardiovascular workouts aid the recovery process by encouraging blood flow; rebuilding and regenerating your muscle tissue. This is why alternating between aerobic and anaerobic exercise is an excellent way of maintaining a strong, healthy body.
While your muscles are recovering from high-intensity weightlifting sessions, you can aid your recovery by utilizing long, slow cardio exercises.
Variety is crucial when it comes to maintaining a well-rounded form of fitness. Your body becomes more efficient at performing each type of exercise, and as a result, you will quickly stop seeing the same results from your workouts.
If you are only concentrating on strength training, it is time to mix things up and add in some cardio. In theory the wider range of exercises you can add in, the fitter you are.
If you’re looking to build muscle while implementing cardio, don’t make the common mistake that leads to muscle LOSS.
When integrating cardio into your workouts, you need to maintain enough calories. Lengthy cardio sessions like long-distance running burn a significant amount of energy, and you need to make sure you aren’t running a calorie deficit. This will invariably lead to muscle loss, and nobody wants that!
Maintaining a nourishing and calorie-sufficient diet is absolutely key to building muscle with cardio.
Here are some exercises that give you a comprehensive cardio workout with the added bonus of muscle and strength-building.
4 Exercise Forms That Combines Strength Building And Cardio
Enjoy all of the benefits of strength training with a cardio component. Swimming maintains your heart rate, working to pump blood around your body.
Swimming works nearly every muscle in your body, toning and building them as your swim. This is achieved without the stress placed on your joints and muscles that occurs during activities like weight lifting.
“While there are so many people out there to dismiss swimming as a “real sport,” swimming is one of the most intense sports there is. Why? Swimming is an all-body exercise. Yes, swimming uses more muscles than baseball and football.”
Reference: swimmingworldmagazine.com – 15 Weird Swimmer Facts
Yes, you read right, running builds muscle.
Studies have proved 5-6% increases in leg muscle mass of regular runners (45 minutes, 4 days per week).
When we’re talking about building strength and doing cardio at the same time, Tabata has to be included…
We’re talking 4 minutes of pure he**, doing 20 seconds work, -and 10 seconds rest intervals.
You can choose which exercises to include in the Tabata yourself, but I’ll give you a hardcore one to start with:
- Mountain climber push-ups
- Jumping jacks
- Bicycle crunches
Two rounds at maximum intensity and you’re done!
Final Words: Does Cardio Help Build Muscle? YES!
So, does cardio help build muscle?
In essence, if you’re looking to build muscle sustainably and effectively, you can’t look past cardio.
It actively aids recovery, builds an excellent level of fitness, and helps you go harder during your strength-training.
See what you’ve been missing out on?
Now, tell me:
What’s YOUR favorite kind of cardio exercise? Please drop me an email and let me know!