Every single person who is a member of a gym has been told confidently that cardio will kill all of your mad gainz and muscle you've worked hard to build.
There are two types of people who use a gym. Those who like to keep fit and lose weight and those who want to gain muscle mass.
Why would cardio stop you from building muslce?
In order to build muscle, you need to fuel your body in the right way. This is often by being in a caloric surplus (as more energy and nutrients are needed for muscle growth). However, we all know that cardio burns calories effectively and this has caused people to believe that it will, therefore, stop you from building muscle.
Much of this has come from people who are ill-informed.
However, if you undertake too much cardio then you could prevent yourself from gaining as much muscle as you had hoped. As touched on, in order to build muscle, you need to eat enough and be in a surplus of calories. So, too much cardio will result in you using too many calories, what’s more, if you run or play an active sport that is based around cardio, you might find that you have not recovered enough to weight train. This will slow down your muscle growth.
But it's not that simple...
How do you stop cardio from preventing muscle growth?
Losing weight can be boiled down to a very simple equation. Burn more calories than you consume. Simple.
One way to stop your cardio impeding your muscle gains is to consume the calories that you burned during a cardio workout. If you have been undertaking cardio activities for some time, then your body will be prepared for it. However, you must make sure that you cool down correctly, in order to remove lactic acid from the body. This will aid your recovery and help you to lift weights pain-free during your next session.
The aim is to find that balance. Too much cardio and you will be eating into your calories which will slow down muscle growth. You can counteract this by consuming those calories again but you have to find the balance between the right amount of cardio and weight training.
One important nutritional element of recovery after either cardio or weight training is protein intake. Protein plays a primary role in building muscle and it's super important you top up! A protein bar or vegan protein bar is a handy way of doing this. The nice thing about snacking after exercise is that a little bit of sugar isn't just OK, it's better for your muscle growth!
Of course, in its simplest form, muscles need calories to grow but cardio uses up calories, so it will slow down your gains. However, cardio is not something you have to avoid if you are trying to build muscle. The aim is to ensure you give your body the correct nutrition so that it continues to grow, even after you have burned calories.
Find that perfect balance and don’t overdo the cardio, while High-Intensity Interval Training (HiiT) should be avoided if you are trying to increase muscle mass. You need to identify what works for your body because after all, we are all unique and we all lose weight and increase muscle mass at different rates and in different ways.
Despite all of this, those who say that cardio will prevent you from building muscle might not have considered the bigger picture. When you do take a step back, it is not as clear as that because you can increase muscle mass and partake in cardio activity if you do it the right way.