Let’s start off right away 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 still 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’s 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.
If you would like our full nutrition recommendations to add to your cardio plan, download our Ultimate Fat Loss Diet & Recipe Guide today!
In fact, in order to become the best possible runner, you should be incorporating calisthenics, weight training, and certainly lots of stretching and yoga into your routine.
We get it. Running seems so easy. All you need to do is lace up some shoes and go.
Surely if a little running is good then a lot of running should be even better.
Not necessarily. You really can have too much of a good thing, so let’s proceed with caution, and take a look at the negative side of too much cardio.
Build Muscle to Prevent Injuries
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, every time you force your body up and over your front leg to take that next step, your joints and tendons are working hard.
Sometimes too hard.
A Better Solution: Of course, sports injuries are a potential issue with many activities, but they can happen especially fast with cardio.
One way to help avoid this is to mix your cardio 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, tripping, or any of the other hazards of running.
Difficult to Sustain
Again, cardio is very healthy for you, but it is 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 our Los Gatos personal trainers, 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 4-5 hours per week working out is great!
Spending 15 hours per week working out is going to encroach on everything else.
Loss of Muscle Mass
When people suddenly increase their cardio routines by a significant margin, they will often experience weight loss.
This might seem like things are working in their favor, especially if weight loss was a goal all along.
They ran more, they lost more. They must be doing something right.
However, remember how taxing and draining long distance running can be?
If you are not fueling your body correctly, it will very quickly begin to burn lean muscle.
This not only makes you weaker but can also begin to whittle away at your endurance capacity.
That spells trouble for a runner.
A Better Solution: Eating habits are extremely important regardless of your training routine.
When you’re training more, make sure you’re eating to fuel your body appropriately so you can actually complete your workouts and see real progress.
During those times when you are resting, or aren’t training quite as hard, recalibrate your food intake to make sure you don't begin putting on excess weight.
A Well-Rounded Fitness Routine
We are not telling you to stop running. If you love to run, by all means, follow that instinct!
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 an appropriate weight and to fuel workouts
- Flexibility training to prevent injury
- Good sleep hygiene to allow for appropriate recovery
We are confident that we can help you meet your fitness goals by following this tried-and-true formula.
We welcome you to come into the gym and speak with one of our coaches to help formulate a plan that will get you the best possible results, without risking overtraining, injury, fatigue, or loss of lean muscle.
You can lose weight, get stronger, increase your endurance, and make noticeable gains all at the same time, and you don’t have to run 50 miles a week to do it.
Sometimes all it takes is a helping hand to get you there.
As you know, exercise is just one part of the equation, so I wanted to make sure we give you some straightforward nutrition advice as well.
If you would like our full nutrition recommendations, download our Ultimate Fat Loss Diet & Recipe Guide today and learn about:
Our 7-Step Anti-Inflammatory Diet
How much protein you really need
The best foods to eat (and avoid) to lose fat
Specific meal plans and recipes for optimal results
Have a question? Please post your questions on our Facebook Page.
Mint Condition Fitness is the leading personal training studio in Los Gatos for successful men and women to become the best versions of themselves.