Hi guys! I'm trying to gain some lean muscle, but think that my cardio is preventing me from doing that. I've already developed some muscle, but want more definition. I usually do 3 days of cardio for an hour and then strength train 3 days for about an hour. I've heard that too much cardio can prevent an increase of muscle mass because after a while, your body begins to burn the muscle to fuel the workout. I try consume the suggested 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight so that I don't lose muscle, but at the same time, I'm not increasing.
Should I cut back on the cardio to maybe like 30 minutes 3 times a week? When I strength train, I usually do high reps (12-15) at a weight that fatigues my muscles...maybe doing fewer reps at an even higher weight would make the difference? Any thoughts/suggestions are appreciated! Thanks.
Not knowing how much you really need to lose to lean up a bit, it's hard to suggest to you what you should consider doing.
However, if you are like most people you probably only need to be doing about 30mins of cardio on your off days. If you are worried about losing the muscle mass you have accumulated, the less cardio the better and basically tone up more by watching and restricting your diet better. When you do your cardio, I would make sure you eat something carb&protein based within a half an hour or so before your workout. This way your body has time to digest the food and won't be calling upon your muscles to fuel your workout.
As far as your strength training is concerned, 12-15 reps is pretty high if you're more concerned with trying to add mass over toning and strengthening your muscles. You probably know that most people would suggest between 6-8 reps at a weight that fatigues you for mass gains. IMO, I would at least higher the weight enough that you struggle to complete your last rep between 10-12, because I'm thinking you don't want to get too bulky looking.
Ummmm... well that's my input. Hopefully, someone will have a better suggestion for you.
I disagree with the advice about eating within half an hour of doing your cardio. This is more likely to make you feel heavy, sluggish and make you feel ill during your exercise. When you eat before and after exercise depends on your goals. If you are trying to lose weight, try to eat 2 hours before doing cardio and wait up to an hour after cardio before eating. If it is cardio vascular fitness you are improving, you can eat whenever you like around your cardio - different bodies can handle different things.
Witha strength and cardio regimen, an hour of cardio is the most you should probably be doing but it depends on the intensity. If you are running, cycling or rowing as hard as you can for an hour then that might be too much. If you are doing an hours slow walking, then it might not be enough.
I agree with your rep range being too high - 15 reps is more for muscular endurance and will not do much for size or strength. Try 6 to 8 reps for strength or 10 to 12 reps for size. Always ensure you are at your failure point for the last rep, otherwise the weight is too low.
Thank you for the replies! I usually eat something small about an hour prior to a workout and then something else immediately after.
Yesterday after work, I went to the gym and increased the weights, but did fewer reps. Boy, WHAT A DIFFERENCE! I think that's just what I needed. I had so much energy when I got home that my husband thought I was on drugs! I love that high after a good workout.
As far as the cardio goes, I like to keep it pretty intense. I don't know what others may think intense is, but on the treadmill, I'll do about 7.0 mph at a 1.5 incline for 30 minutes. The elliptical varies, but still intense enough to be well over the 80% heartrate for my age...I'll do that for another 30 minutes. I guess I'll cut back to 45 minutes total and see how things go.