Have you ever heard that cardio is unimportant for gaining muscle?
How many times have you heard that cardio is important for fat loss?
- A lot!
Is this correct or half knowledge?
Let's find out!
Before we dive deep into why cardio is actually vital for muscle building, lets understand the basics of energy. Our body's energy currency/source is ATP.
I'm sure you have heard this word countless number of times, starting from school's science lecture. This ATP can be generated without oxygen (anaerobic) and using oxygen (aerobic) systems.
Anaerobic systems produce energy at a faster rate but it also lasts very less time approx 8-12 seconds.
The aerobic system provides us with prolonged energy burning fats and carbohydrates but at a much slower paceWhat Most Coaches Think
Most of the fitness coaches believe that slow paced cardio i.e. aerobic activity doesn't help much in lifting gains, as most of our lifting comprises of short bursts of movements. This is especially true if you are someone who likes to lift heavy and attempt 3-5 reps frequently, and would be thinking that your body relies more on anaerobic system.
But remember, the short time nature of the anaerobic system also gets us fatigued a lot sooner which is also its limiting factor.
Now that we understand the basics of energy production, let's move on to how training these two systems optimally can help us maximize muscle gains in 2019:
Aerobic and Anaerobic systems act synergistically i.e. whenever an activity is performed they act together, which means Aerobic system is also involved in short bursts of activity such as lifting weights for a set or two.Ever noticed that you get breathless after doing a set of heavy squats or dumbbell presses?
If yes, that can be delayed if we focus on improving our aerobic system as more of the energy will be available from aerobic systems which will help delay that burning feeling which could have helped you get those few extra reps in a working set. As the feeling of fatigue will be less you will be able to move on to the next set faster.
This can ultimately help you accumulate more volume in a training session and we know that increasing volume overtime is one of the primary ways to maximize muscle hypertrophy.
This can be very helpful for a person with a busy schedule as well, because improving your aerobic capacity will help you recover better between sets and get your training session done faster as the aerobic system helps you recover between sets by restoring ATP and phosphocreatine levels to reduce the feeling of fatigue between sets.Walking Or Jogging: How Much?
This does not mean that you begin devoting a lot of time to walking or jogging. I recommend 2-3 sessions a week approximately at 60-70% Heart Rate Maximum or roughly around 120-130BPM for 20-45mins depending upon your current level of aerobic training.
Sprints and interval training can also be incorporated and have been shown to improve aerobic capacity as well, but have to be monitored as they can have an impact on your recovery as they are generally more fatiguing for your joints and CNS (Central Nervous System)
If you are someone who gets joint pains and aches doing cardio, you should prefer doing cardio in form of swimming, cycling or cross trainer machine.
The progression should be slow over the weeks such as reducing the time for a given distance or increasing the distance keeping above variables in mind.
Resting heart rate can be a good indicator of your aerobic progress and can be monitored every day upon waking up. That's it, folks!
Cardio is super important not only for maximizing your muscle gains in 2019 but also to maintain a healthy heart and lifestyle
Go, get on the cardio train!
Yash Sharma is a former national level Football player, now a Strength Coach, Nutritionist and Natural Bodybuilder. He also runs a YouTube Channel Yash Sharma Fitness via which he aims to educate all the fitness enthusiasts to maximize their gains by methods that are backed by science and applicable easily. Connect with him on YouTube, YashSharmaFitness@gmail.com, Facebook and Instagram.