CARDIO AND MUSCLE GROWTH: FRIENDS OR FOES?
I’ve been told that if my goal is to gain muscle then I should avoid cardiovascular exercise because you will “burn off protein,” which will limit my muscle size (hypertrophy) gains.
Here’s the truth….
Intense cardiovascular activity, coupled with inadequate carbohydrate intake can have an impact on protein usage (amino acid synthesis) and muscle size gains.Generally, the concern about losing muscle mass (i.e., burning off protein) is of a concern to body builders who try to optimize symmetry, muscle definition and size. In this case (body builder), moderate cardiovascular activity will maintain heart health and control body fat gain, without significantly compromising size gains.
However, if you are not a competitive body builder, this will not be a huge concern. Because the body needs sugar (carbohydrate) for brain and nervous system functions, and muscle contraction, if you don’t have enough stores of circulating blood glucose (sugar) in your blood, the body will break down protein in a process called gluconeogenesis to get the sugar it needs for bodily functions.
Sometimes, you just have to stop listening to the stuff that never goes away, and key in on the truth! Here’s to good training!
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Douglas Brooks, MS, Exercise Physiologist, Director of Education for COREFX, is a former-Ironman® triathlete and currently directs Athlete Conditioning for Sugar Bowl Ski Academy where he works with elite junior and professional athletes. Douglas was inducted into the U.S. National Fitness Hall of Fame and has been honored by Can-Fit-Pro as the International Presenter of the Year. Coach Brooks is the author of numerous training books, and most recently, was the recipient of the IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year Award.