In the world of health and fitness, you’ll struggle to find a more polarizing topic than cardio. For some, cardio is the be-all and end-all of a healthy training routine. For others, cardio is the worst thing to happen to the world since reality TV. We either love cardio, or loathe it, there seems to be no middle ground. Regardless of your feelings on cardio, one thing we can all agree on is the fact that cardio is incredibly beneficial, and it should be done by everybody in some way or another. Cardio promotes weight loss, it improves your mood, it reduces your blood pressure, it’s great for the heart, and a whole lot more besides. However you decide to get your cardio in, just get it done! With that said, there are certain things you should avoid doing when it comes to cardio, and we’ll be highlighting those now. Here’s a look at 6 cardio mistakes to avoid making.
Believing that cardio burns muscle
When some people exercise, they do so with the intention of building muscle and bulking up. Bodybuilders for example, will go through a bulking phase where they increase their caloric intakes, train harder and heavier, and make a conscious effort to build as much muscle as possible. That’s all well and good, but the problem is that a lot of people when trying to build muscle, will avoid doing cardio completely. But why? Well, primarily, people often believe that cardio burns muscle as a result of ‘bro science’ as it is known. Bro science is basically opinion being passed off incorrectly as fact. If you were to do an epic several hour long cardio session at a high intensity, then yes, you would tap into your muscle glycogen stores for energy which could result in muscle catabolism. A 45-60-minute steady state cardio session performed 3 or 4 times per week, though, will have no adverse effects on your muscle mass at all. If anything, it’ll make you look bigger because cardio burns fat and the leaner and more defined you look, the more muscular you seem to appear.
Doing cardio you hate
When you hear the word ‘cardio’ which form of exercise instantly pops into your head? We can’t speak for you, but we’d put good money on most of you visualizing yourselves running on a treadmill in a gym. Cardio on a treadmill is fine, as is cardio whilst jogging in the park, cycling, using an elliptical machine, or anything else for that matter. Any form of cardio is going to be beneficial. The problem is that people often do cardio that they despise. If you dread the thought of going to the gym and doing a boring and mundane hour-long cardio session on the treadmill, why are you doing it? You’re harming your mental health, you’re ruining your mood, you won’t give it your best, and you’ll be more likely to throw the towel in. Cardio can be done in many different ways. If you enjoy cycling, do your cardio cycling. If you like being outdoors, find cardio that you can do outdoors. Just don’t do cardio that makes you miserable, and that you don’t enjoy doing in the slightest.
Not doing it
The next common cardio mistake we’re going to be looking at is simply not doing enough. Cardio, as mentioned beforehand, is incredibly beneficial for you for a whole variety of different reasons. You need to do cardio in order to reap the health benefits, and you need to ensure you’re doing enough. Now, any form of cardio is better than nothing, but ideally you should aim to do at least three cardio-based workouts per week. If you want to do cardio in conjunction with other forms of training, I.E resistance training, that is also perfectly fine. Just make sure you do something, anything.
Thinking that cardio is an excuse to eat like a pig
In the fitness industry, there’s a well-known saying that goes something along the lines of ‘You can’t out train a bad diet’. Sure, if you exercise regularly and intensely, you can burn off a significant amount of calories, but if your diet sucks and you find yourself eating junk constantly, no amount of cardio is going to help you maximize your weight loss and/or fitness goals and objectives. If you’re looking to reap the rewards associated with doing cardio regularly, make sure you do cardio in conjunction with a healthy and balanced diet. The occasional treat now and then is fine, but if your diet sucks 99% of the time, no amount of cardio is going to make any real difference. Put simply, cardio is NOT an excuse to eat junk constantly and make unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Doing too much cardio
Yes, you can actually have too much of a good thing. There are many people out there that actually enjoy doing cardio. Yes, we know, we’re as surprised as you are, but it’s true. Another common problem that people encounter when doing cardio is that they simply do too much of it. When doing cardio, and any other form of exercise for that matter, it’s important to make sure that you are getting plenty of rest. You need at least two full days of rest each week, so as annoying as you may find it, you need to ensure that you aren’t doing too much cardio. Aim to perform 3 – 5 cardio sessions each week, and give yourself at least two full recovery days. Remember, you build muscle when you rest, and you recover when you rest.
Not changing things around
Finally, the last thing you should do when it comes to cardio, is switch things up now and then. Like anything, if you do the same thing over and over again, eventually the body will adapt and you’ll find that you aren’t making the progress you were hoping for. Try a few weeks of steady state for example, then change to a HIIT workout for a few weeks perhaps, and see how you get on.