As a gym junkie, I have always been fond of the endless battle between pro-cardio and pro-workout supporters. Being a hybrid (I do both cardio and workout during my training), I love watching these guys literally tare each other apart when they’re at the gym! So how did this ‘great divide’ come to be? Well, not pointing out any fingers, but I think most of the blame lies with the pro-workout supporters. There’s been this ancient proverb passed down by HIIT ancestors (High Intensity Interval Training) that including cardio in your workout program reduces muscle gain. Well, I totally disprove this theory and from my experience, cardio has helped me to not only build and tone, but has also brought numerous health benefits to my life. It’s just about knowing the right timing, amount and intensity of cardio to include together with your work-out program.
Well, let’s break down the science on how to maximize on cardio with your work-out. We all know that glycogen in our bodies is the fuel for mass building right? And we constantly need to replenish it by eating a healthy rich diet. Now, here’s where the ancient theory got it roots from. Apparently, when you perform cardiovascular exercises prior to working out, your glycogen stores are depleted. So while working out, your body begins catabolism; that means it sources energy from the fat deposits of your muscles, making them slimmer. Well, this is actually true, that’s why including cardio to your workout has to be a pre-planned agenda. Cardio should be performed about one to two hours before your workout to enable glycogen levels to be replenished. Also, never perform cardio exercises on a completely empty stomach because your body will source out energy from your muscles. With timing, a best approach would be a 20 to 30 minute medium intensity cardio exercise such as running, or using an elliptical trainer.
We now know how to incorporate cardio into our work out regime, but do we know its advantages? Well, let’s start with mentioning the most important one; cardio improves your heart’s health. It’s not rocket science that increasing your heart rate makes your heart muscles stronger. The stronger they are, the more the blood that is pumped to your organs to nourish and keep them healthy. But it can also…Cardio is also a great weight loss technique. It actually increases your metabolism exponentially enabling you to burn more fat as you exercise on a regular basis. It has also been proven that regular cardio exercises causes capillaries in your muscles to grow, improving muscle mass and muscle visibility. So there you go, whether you’re lifting weights for strength or for muscle mass, inclusion of aerobic exercises will definitely get the job done quicker for you. Plus you get the whole package of a healthier body all in one go.
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