Let’s start off by saying that we’re not bashing cardio.
It’s a very important part of your overall fitness plan, and something you should be continually working to improve or maintain.
That being said, there’s a misconception out there that cardio is the answer to everything.
If you’re already doing cardio, then do more, right?
Weight loss, strength, endurance, flexibility…someone is going to tell you that the answer to all your problems is just to run more, run longer, and run faster.
Running is great, but it doesn’t address every aspect of your overall fitness.
In fact, in order to become the best possible runner, you should be incorporating calisthenics, weight training, and certainly lots of stretching and mobility work into your routine.
We get it. Running seems so easy. All you need to do is lace up your shoes and go.
Surely if a little running is good then a lot of running should be even better!
Not necessarily. So let’s proceed with caution, and take a look at the negative side of too much cardio.
Ask any long-distance runner what their biggest obstacles or complaints are, and they’re probably going to mention knees, ankles, hips, or even their lower back.
Tackling extended cardio sessions multiple times per week is putting tremendous strain on your joints.
Every time your foot strikes the pavement your joints and tendons are working hard -- sometimes too hard.
A Better Solution: One way to help avoid straining your joints is to balance out your exercise with strength training and restorative workouts like yoga.
Having strong muscles surrounding your joints helps to protect and support them while you do cardio activities.
Having flexibility helps prevent sudden injuries from over-extending your muscles or straining your ligaments.
Difficult to Sustain
Cardio makes it surprisingly easy to overtrain.
Symptoms of overtraining include fatigue, muscle and joint pain that won't go away, feelings of weakness, loss of performance, and even feelings of depression.
It's a very real risk one takes when pushing oneself too far, too fast.
Extended cardio sessions take up a tremendous amount of not only energy, but also time.
While many athletes might happily spend hours in the gym every day, it's not always appropriate or realistic for the average person to do the same thing.
When it comes to maximizing your results, sometimes less really is more.
A Better Solution: A 45-60 minute strength training session can burn as many calories and benefit your overall performance as much as (if not more than) a run of twice that length.
Especially when you are under the direction of a fitness coach, you can get the most out of the time you have to spend at the gym.
One of the biggest reasons people give up on their fitness routines altogether is an unrealistic time commitment.
Don't set yourself up for failure.
Keep your time spent in the gym as well as your effort level sustainable. Spending 3-5 hours per week working out is great!
Spending 10-15 hours per week working out is not going to last.
Loss of Muscle Mass
When people suddenly increase their cardio routines, they will often experience muscle loss.
If you are not fueling your body correctly, you can quickly begin to burn lean muscle.
This not only makes you weaker, but also slows down your metabolism and actually makes it easy to put weight back on if you ever back off on your exercise.
A Better Solution: Balances your cardio workouts with strength training and dial in your eating habits.
Make sure you’re eating to fuel your body appropriately so you can complete your workouts and see real progress.
A Well-Rounded Fitness Routine
In the end, cardio is not bad...but it’s just one part of a balanced exercise program. If you love to run, by all means, run!
However, even elite long-distance runners like marathoners benefit tremendously from a few basic concepts of fitness:
- Strength training to maintain appropriate muscle mass
- Good nutrition to maintain weight and to fuel workouts
- Flexibility training to prevent injury
- Good sleep habits to allow for appropriate recovery
Follow this formula and you will be much more likely to not only hit your fitness goals but have more energy to bring to your life.
How to Get Started
If you already have your cardio dialed in but are looking to balance things out, I would invite you to check out our 28-Day Kickstart Program.
This is our holistic fitness program where you will get a customized strength training program, diet, and goal coaching to help give you a well-rounded workout plan.
In this program you will get:
- Full fitness and goals assessment
- Personalized fitness coaching to teach you the exact exercises you need to safely and effectively move better and build stamina
- A simple meal plan to help you improve your health
- 1-on-1 success coaching to help guide you as you work to change your diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits
You can have the energy, strength, and stamina that you want, you just need a program that can guide you on the path to get (and stay!) there.
Click here to learn more and take control of your health and fitness today!
Mint Condition Fitness empowers people to take control of their fitness and fully enjoy the life they have built.