Cardio: is it really that bad?

I always come across different fitness pages/websites discussing how bad it is to do hours of cardio. Some people even avoid cardio altogether for fear of losing muscle. Others brag about how they became lean without doing any cardio whatsoever. However, is cardio really all that bad?

I personally believe it isn’t. Whereas it’s bad to over train with hours of cardio sessions each day, this same rule can apply to weight lifting or any other physical activity.

If I want to become leaner, I NEED to do cardio in combination with weights. This photo shows my before and after which I could have never achieved without doing cardio.

If you are already quite lean, you can get the job done with weight training sessions alone. Unfortunately people like me who are not genetically slim simply cannot get away with a few weight training sessions each week if we want to become super lean. I might be able to maintain my size with weight training sessions, but I certainly won’t get any leaner. If I do want to lose weight through weight training alone, I would need to slash my calories pretty low which isn’t something I want to do either. Cardio enables you to keep your calorie intake pretty high AND still lose fat.

The closer you get to your fat loss goal, the harder it becomes to lose the fat. This is where doing a few cardio sessions each week will actually get you to where you want to be. Cardio will not make you lose muscle either. If you are following a well-balanced diet and consuming enough calories, your body will use carbs and fat as its fuel source during cardio. You will only ever lose muscle if you are following a low-calorie diet or overtraining.

When you are looking to bulk up, you will need to be in a caloric surplus and eat more than you are burning. Trainers advise you to avoid cardio during your bulking phase simply so your body does not use up the calories meant to feed your muscles.

It is actually beneficial to include cardio in ALL fitness programs. If you are looking to lose fat, you would simply do more cardio sessions (up to 5 or 6 times a week). If your goal is muscle building, then two cardio sessions a week is sufficient. Cardio helps to build muscle by increasing your blood circulation and transporting nutrients to your muscles quicker. Having a good endurance will speed up your recovery and rest time in-between sets.

In addition to helping you achieve your fitness goals, cardio improves your heart, lung and physical health and helps to fight diseases. It also alleviates stress, boosts your energy and helps you sleep better at night. As long as you do not exceed 60 minutes of cardio a day and follow a well-balanced diet, I see no reason why cardio would ever be bad for you.

Cardio can also be a fun pastime and something you enjoy doing with other people. Fill your IPod up with great music and you’ll discover the best health booster and stress reliever available.

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