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Lots of guys fear the treadmill, believing it has a mystical ability to shrivel up muscle, gain weight and sap strength. And some bodybuilder types bash cardio simply because they don’t like doing it. It is clearly witnessed that excessive cardio can cause muscle loss, what about moderate cardio? Does it interfere with your muscle growth, or does it help?

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Myth: Can’t Do Cardio if Want to Gain Weight

Actually, it can go either way:

3 WAYS CARDIO CAN HELP WITH MUSCLE GROWTH

The 3 primary ways that cardio will help you build (and retain) more muscle are:

Improves muscle recovery.

Improves your body’s metabolic responses to food.

Keep up your conditioning and making the transition from “bulking” to “cutting” would be easy on your body.

CARDIO AND MUSCLE RECOVERY

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The intense exercise that cause damage to your muscle fibers, which must be repaired. The damage is the main cause of the soreness that you feel in a following a workout and is popularly known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). The cardio exercise will help your body gain weight and to repair muscle damage more quick as it increases the blood flow. This helps your body build the muscle back up more quickly and remove the waste, which results in an all-around faster recovery.

CARDIO AND HOW YOUR BODY METABOLIZES FOOD

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All nutrients which are eaten would be sucked into the muscles and is either absorbed or burned off and none would result in fat storage in your body. When we are on diet to lose weight, all energy needs would met by burning fat, not the muscle. The reality, however, is that our bodies do these things to varying degrees. Other people are more likely to store excess calories as fat and to lose muscle when they restrict calories for weight loss. Hormones like testosterone and cortisol play major roles in this. Higher levels of testosterone promote more muscle and less fat, whereas higher levels of cortisol promote less muscle and more fat. But unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do about either beyond injecting ourselves with dangerous drugs. Our genetics have set our normal physiological hormonal ranges, and that’s that. All is not lost if you’re not of the genetic elite, though.

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Insulin sensitive people is highly beneficial when you’re eating a good amount of calories to build muscle, whereas insulin resistance inhibits muscle growth and promotes fat storage under the dietary conditions. Genetics affect natural levels of insulin sensitivity as well, but you can take various steps to manipulate this mechanism.

CARDIO AND CONDITIONING

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The most common issue in bodybuilding world is the reduction in cardiovascular fitness when focusing only on heavy weightlifting for month. Added stress will make weight loss physically and psychologically tougher and can even results in accelerate muscle loss. Those who keep doing cardio regularly seem to better retain the ability to oxidize fat.

2 WAYS CARDIO CAN GET IN THE WAY OF MUSCLE GROWTH

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As I said to introduce this myth, cardio can both hurt and help muscle growth.
Two primary ways that can negatively affect your gains are by reducing your caloric surplus too much (gain weight)  and by causing you to over-train.
The surplus issue is pretty moot, though, if you watch what you’re burning.

Normal cardio sessions don’t burn that many calories (a few hundred at most), which is easy enough to correct (eat a pile of fruit afterward, for instance). Hard gainers have more to worry about in this regard as they usually have trouble eating enough gain weight as it is. Low-intensity cardio stimulates the appetite, so including some every week can help ensure you eat enough.

SO, CARDIO WHILE FOCUSING ON MUSCLE GROWTH—YES OR NO?

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The positives of including cardio in your workout session when you’re bulking outweigh the negatives, especially considering the fact that the negatives are easily dealt with. Most common point at which the added cardio will impair your strength gains and muscle growth will depend on your genetics and conditioning.
If you find that even that much HIIT negatively impacts your strength, then opt for a few sessions of low-to-moderate cardio each week instead. That will still be enough to enjoy the benefits of cardio while avoiding its drawbacks.

In most endeavors in life, you can expect to receive rewards in proportion to what you give in time and effort. Work more and harder in your career, and you’ll grow your business or earn promotions and raises. Spend more time with friends and family, and you’ll build stronger, more fulfilling relationships. Practice longer and more diligently on your golf swing, and you’ll shave strokes off your game. Exercise—and weightlifting in particular—is a bit different, however. There’s a point where exerting more effort actually become Overtraining.

MYTH: Overtraining and Longer Workouts are Better

Most people are aware of this concept, but they don’t know how easy it is to overtrain or how to spot it. You see people overtraining all the time. The guys that spend 2+ hours working for a single muscle group, doing set after set after set, are overtraining without realizing it. They don’t understand why they don’t get bigger or stronger despite their long, grueling workouts. The more effort they put into growing their chest, they figure, the more it will grow. That’s not how it works, though. Your body can only take so much before it becomes afflicted with what’s known as overtraining.

WHAT IS OVERTRAINING?

Overtraining is simply an imbalance between work and recovery. When you put too much stress on the body and don’t give it the proper amount of rest, various undesirable things happen. The common side effects are a state of chronic fatigue, depression, and underperformance despite rest, but it’s not always that extreme or obvious. There are other, subtler signs of overtraining that you should know and watch for so you can stop the process before you hit the point where you require an extensive—several weeks’ long in some cases—recovery.

What follows is a list of signs that you may be overtraining.

If you’re only experiencing one of the symptoms, it may not indicate overtraining. But if you’re experiencing several, chances are you need to take a rest week (5–7 days of no exercise or very light training has always handled it for me). Getting a proper amount of sleep is also a key part of preventing overtraining. Seven to eight hours per night is generally considered optimal. The last crucial element is a proper diet that fully provides your body with everything it needs to repair itself.

YOU SIMPLY CAN’T FINISH A PROPER WORKOUT.

When your body is overtrained, you won’t be able to lift the weights you normally can, you won’t have the energy to do as many sprints, you won’t have the stamina to run your normal route, and so forth. Even though you’re hitting the gym every day, you’ll feel progressively weaker, slower, and more lethargic. I’ve had it so bad before that I couldn’t stop yawning in the gym and couldn’t possibly push myself to do another set.

YOU’RE GETTING FATTER DESPITE OVERTRAINING

When hormones are normal, losing fat is simply a matter of increasing energy output over caloric intake, but when you’re overtraining, this no longer holds true. What gives? Your hormones get thrown out of whack. Testosterone levels plunge, and cortisol levels rise, which causes catabolism (the breakdown of muscle tissue) and increases insulin resistance and fat deposition. The end result? You train harder and watch your diet closely, but you get fatter.

YOU’RE OVERTRAINING EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK.

I’ve yet to meet someone, not on drugs who can lift heavy, sprint hard, or engage in otherwise intense training every day of the week and still adequately recover. Unless you have Wolverine’s gift of regeneration, it’s absolutely vital that you take at least two days off weights per week and schedule at least one day of absolutely no exercise.

What I like to do is lift weights Monday–Friday and do cardio Sunday– Tuesday or Wednesday. That leaves Saturday as a full rest day.

You can intersperse your rest days throughout the week too:

Day 1: Weights Day
Day 2: Weights & cardio Day
Day 3: Cardio only Day
Day 4: Weights & cardio Day
Day 5: Weights & cardio Day
Day 6: Weights Day
Day 7: Full rest

You can play with this as much as you want so long as you take two days off weights and let yourself have one day of no exercise whatsoever. If you want to give your metabolism a little boost, don’t take two full rest days in a row.

Most women desire the same type of body. They want to be lean but not too skinny. They want to have some muscle definition, particularly in their arms, stomach, and legs. And they want to have a bubble butt that fills their jeans. And, amen! I’m all for that. To achieve this physique, the average woman needs to lose fat and add some muscle. Just losing the fat wouldn’t be enough as most women lack the muscle that gives an athletic look (leaving them with the common skinny-fat body type).

MYTH: WOMEN SHOULD TRAIN DIFFERENTLY THAN MEN

What is the best way to achieve these goals?

Conventional “wisdom” has women grinding away on the treadmill every day and working out with three-pound dumbbells. I’ve yet to see a woman achieve a fitness model physique by doing that. Achieving a lean, athletic look takes nothing more than having a good amount of muscle and low body fat percentage. Reducing body fat percentage is mainly a function of diet, but what’s the best way to build muscle?

Lifting weights, of course. And you’re probably not surprised that I recommend heavyweights. I can already hear you disagree. Women shouldn’t lift heavy weights because they don’t want to get bulky, right? Wrong. It’s incredibly difficult for a woman to ever reach the point of looking bulky, regardless of how hard or often she trains. The hormone that most directly regulates muscle growth is testosterone, and an average woman’s testosterone levels are a mere 5–10% of an average man’s.

In one study, post-exercise testosterone levels were 45 times higher in men than in women. This isn’t surprising when you consider that research has shown that resistance training doesn’t even increase testosterone levels in women—only growth hormone, estradiol (a type of estrogen), and cortisol.
If you’re a woman, I PROMISE you that you will never wake up one day disgusted with your bulky physique if you lift heavy weights (heavy for YOU, but light for weightlifting guys) and stay lean. Getting to the point of having large, protruding muscles is a very gradual, grueling process that you would have to consciously work at every day, and it would take years.

BENEFITS OF BUILDING MUSCLE

If you’re a woman and you’re still not quite sold on weightlifting yet, these health benefits of building your muscles, as discussed in a study conducted by the University of Texas, will change your mind::

-Your chances of developing diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cancer are significantly reduced.

-Your bones become stronger.

-Your metabolism speeds up because muscle, even when idle, burns energy. This makes it easier to stay lean.

-Your life expectancy increases.

-Your immune system becomes stronger.

And what about your physique? Well, gaining muscle does wonders for that too. Strong, well-developed muscles are what give women the curves they love. Nothing improves your image more in and out of your clothes than lean, defined muscles. If all that isn’t enough, then you should also know that maintaining a strong, well-muscled body helps you age better.

Research has shown that greater muscle mass percentage in older women is associated with better mobility, lower body weight, and lower body fat levels. Now, what qualifies as heavy weight for a woman?
The weight that is heavy enough to limit you to 8–10 repetitions. Lifting heavy weights (relative to your strength, of course) is just the fastest way to change your physique.

If you’re a woman and you want to be toned, sexy legs and around, tight butt, then you can’t beat an intense workout of “boy exercises” such as barbell squats, Romanian deadlifts, and barbell lunges.
If you want sleek, defined arms, the quickest way to get there is by going heavy on exercises like dumbbell curls, straight-bar curls, and EZ-bar curls. Women, it’s time to put down the pink play weights and get sexy by lifting with the guys! (They’ll find it pretty hot, too.)