Cardio is short for cardiovascular exercise and cardio workouts do just that… they work out your heart, helping it to pump blood throughout your body more efficiently. It’s recommended that most people do 150 minutes of cardio every week for optimal health.
Still, you can do too much cardio, meaning that it can start to work against you if you’re not cross-training with other styles of exercise. So, is there such a thing as too much cardio? Yes – and here’s why.
Too Much Cardio?
The risks of too much cardio depend on the person. After all, everybody is different and it’s important to remember that what works for one person might not work for another.
However, there’s some common knowledge around too much cardio that shows that it is possible to do too much of it.
Now, let’s go over some of the risks of too much cardio and why you won’t want to overdo it.
Decreased Muscle Mass
First, cardio causes you to decrease your muscle mass. Cardio exercise requires a lot of calories (energy) and while you might think this is a good thing in terms of weight, in reality, the real key to weight loss is boosting your metabolism.
Not only does your metabolism go back to its normal rate after cardio exercise almost immediately, if you start to lose muscle mass, that metabolic rate is going to dip even further. So, your body will actually be desperately holding on to fat if you do too much cardio.
If you’ve ever heard the term “skinny fat”, this is the reason. Low muscle mass + lots of cardio = skinny fat. Not to mention, you’ll need to work harder to maintain your weight when you do too much cardio. In short, decreasing your muscle mass is a downside for many reasons.
Another factor that makes too much cardio a bad thing is that your joints often aren’t acknowledged while doing cardio. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions. But in terms of your classic cardio exercises like running and jumping exercises, you may be neglecting your joints.
On the other hand, strength training puts a lot of focus on the health of your joints which can reduce injuries and aid in overall health. When you’ve got enough muscle mass and those muscles are strong, you’re doing a great thing towards protecting your joints.
Some might say that their morning run helps them de-stress and organize their thoughts. And while that’s a fantastic reason to go for a run, in many cases, if you overdo it and run too often, you’ll actually increase your stress levels.
Exercise in and of itself is stressful. It’s literally structured stress that your body is purposefully put under in order to get stronger. When working out, your body is in a high-stress state and with too much cardio, you might be keeping your body in that stressed-out state long after the workout.
So, if you’re feeling a bit high-strung and over-stressed, consider whether you might be doing too much cardio (or too much of any kind of training for that matter). You might be taking on more than your body can handle.
How Much Cardio is Safe To Do?
So, how much cardio should one be doing to avoid the risks of too much cardio? Well, again, everybody is different and there’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to how much cardio you can handle.
It also depends on your overall goals. If you’re overweight and you’re looking to lose as much as possible, a decent amount of cardio will serve you well. But if you’re relatively fit and looking to increase muscle mass and improve strength, you’ll definitely want to include strength and resistance training into your workout regimen.
Another smart way to approach cardio is by trying HIIT workouts. HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training and it blends strength and resistance with cardio in structured intervals. You’ll boost your heart rate for cardiovascular benefits while increasing muscle mass, plus other amazing benefits. For many, it’s the best of both worlds.
Try our variety of HIIT workouts on the OOMPH app today by starting your free trial.