Best Cardio for Saving Muscle
Everyone knows the benefits of cardiovascular exercise. Not only its positive effect on weight management, but the long term effects of a healthy cardio vascular system also.
However when it comes to dieting, frequently we are asked both 'Won't cardio kill my gains?', and if not, 'What is the best cardio for saving muscle?'.
In short, no, cardiovascular exercise will not 'kill' your gains. However if your overall goal is gaining and maintaining lean muscle, than there are some factors you need to consider to ensure you retain all of that hard earned muscle mass.
Best Cardio for Saving Muscle Checklist:
- Calories: Its no secret that for optimal muscle growth we need to be in a caloric surplus. Meaning we are consuming more calories than we expend throughout the day. And as we know cardio expends energy, so in order to maintain maximal muscle mass we must ensure we are consuming calories lost through exercise so that we stay either at a maintenance level, or in a surplus.
- Stay Away From The Treadmill: Yep, you read that right, there have been some recent studies released indicating that the intensity and type of cardio vascular exercise can have effects on muscle damage and performance. So if your tossing up whether to use the bike or the treadmill next session, go towards the bike and your lifting progress will thank you for it.
- Up The Intensity: The High Intensity Training (HIIT) bandwagon has been taking the bodybuilding world by storm lately. And for good reason! Studies have shown that short bouts of exercise such as sprinting not only burn more fat, but also cause significantly less muscle damage than longer bouts of low intensity exercise. So shoot for under 20 mins of HIIT.
- Cardio After Weights: If you plan on doing you cardio and weights training in the one gym session than save the cardio for afterwards. Their are numerous reasons for this, namely, Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) occurs for up to 48 hours after training, this occurs as your muscles require more oxygen to repair post training. So if you go all out on cardio before weights, you will not have adequate energy to perform in the weight room.
Furthermore, studies have shown that there is an increase in fat oxidation within the first 15 minutes when performing cardio after weights as opposed to before!
Best Cardio for Saving Muscle Summary
So in summary, the best cardio is going to be some form of Bicycle HIIT training, performed under 20 minutes duration. This can be performed either on a exercise bike or road.
While other forms of cardio can be great for fat loss such as low intensity work on a treadmill. They are recommended to be used sparingly when you goal is to spare as much muscle mass as possible.
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