Runnergirl Training: Cardio & Muscle Gain

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cardio & Muscle Gain

cardio muscle gain exercise fitness

By Runnergirl Training 

Cardiovascular (cardio) or aerobic training provides a variety of health benefits and is a necessary component to any training program. The type of goal differentiates the type, duration and intensity level of the cardio training.

If muscle gain is the goal, cardio exercise should be limited to twenty minutes in duration Clark and Lucett (2009). If cardio is long in duration then the body begins to have adaptations to exercise that are opposite of muscle building. 

Shugaman states:
            Low to moderate intensity cardio is best to build muscle while still promoting a healthy heart. Although cardio exercise is definitely beneficial for overall health, doing high intensity cardio 4-6 times per week is counter productive to increasing muscle mass. If you do cardio while trying to build muscle, it should be done at a  low intensity. Low intensity means walking, not running, keeping your heart rate around 60% of maximum range not 70 or 80%. Cardio burns excess calories, and if you're not careful, you will burn some muscle too.
What are ways to maintain or build muscle mass in a training program? There are many aspects of training programs that can be geared toward building muscle. 
Shugaman then describes in detail the following aspects of a muscle gain program:
Building muscle means eating high quality calories in order to increase muscle mass. Eat plenty of high quality protein throughout the day as well as before and after your workouts. Start your morning with a high protein meal supplement shake. It's important to get high quality protein and some carbohydrates into your body immediately upon waking. Then begin your morning workout. If you work out in the evening, eat quality calories including protein, complex carbs, and essential fats before you start. This is completely different than trying to burn fat where you would avoid eating before cardio. Recent research by Tipton shows that getting 30 grams of whey protein (containing 15 grams of essential amino acids) before and after your workout can increase protein synthesis by 400%! Additional research shows that consuming a protein/carbohydrate beverage, like a meal supplement powder drink, immediately after exercise can increase muscle protein synthesis greater than one consumed several hours later. Subsequent post workout  meals should contain a combination of high quality protein and complex carbohydrates like vegetables, yams, etc. Building muscle is a combination of proper training, high quality, well thought-out nutrition plans, and adequate rest and recovery time. Failing to work on all of these areas can keep you from gaining the muscle you desire.

Clark, M. & Lucett, S. (2009). NASM essentials for sports performance training. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Murphy, P. (2011). How to do cardio while maintaining muscle mass. Retrieved from

Shugarman, A. (n.d.). 5 tips for burning fat and building muscle. Retrieved from

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