Does Cardio Kill Weightlifting Gains?
“Yo, bro. I’m telling you. Cardio kills your gains.”
I’m sure we’ve all encountered the broscience belief that cardio kills your muscular gains. But like most seasoned broscience, little to no evidence of said killing is ever provided. So, should you do cardio before/after lifting? Or should you avoid cardio at all costs? The answer, as with most practices in life, lies in moderation.
Cardio is an integral part of any fitness routine as it strengthens your heart and your respiratory system. Nothing is more embarrassing than being winded after taking a flight of steps, or not being able to keep up in your family’s Thanksgiving pickup football game.
That being said, when putting on muscle mass is the goal of your weight-training routine, you may think that avoiding cardio will help you put on weight at a faster pace. And it might. But the growth could be incidental. The reason why bodybuilders “bulk,” or put on weight during the offseason and avoid cardio and cutting weight, is to ensure that their bodies always have calories to burn to fuel muscle growth. The reason why it might appear that cardio hurts muscular growth is because your body is burning through fat stores. Once the fat is gone, your body will cannibalize muscle or slow muscle growth.
Make Sure to Consume Enough Calories
So, as long as you consume enough calories each day to supply your muscles with energy and meet your body’s caloric needs, you will not see any detriment to muscle growth from cardio training.
For me, there are two specific reasons why I always keep cardio in my routine:
1. Improved Recovery – Cardio helps increase blood flow and nutrient delivery to muscles that may be tired after weightlifting.
2. Constant Conditioning – As I stated before, it is embarrassing to not be able to perform normal human activities without becoming tired or winded. Cardio exercise helps to keep you in fighting shape for any common demands.
I tend to favor cardio on my rest days and on days when I feel particularly active after my weightlifting session. An easy way to make sure that your body has adequate calories after cardio is to supplement with Whey Protein. To avoid cramping, it is best to perform cardio on an empty stomach, so take your protein shake afterward or at least 30 minutes before exercise.