Thread: Less cardio, more muscle
11-18-2003, 11:17 PM #1
Less cardio, more muscle
For ages different trainers have been telling me to cut back on my cardio. For ages I run cardio at about 90-99% of target heart rate for 60 minutes every day. The trainers all assert that if I cut back to 65% I will burn more fat and less muscle. Having run at 90% and continuing to gain, albeit slowly, I am really suspicious that this is funny science, even though I am aware that it is “common wisdom.”
What they are telling me (and have been telling me for years) is that by cutting back to 65% and 45 minutes a day I will actually burn more fat and gain more muscle. I have decided to experiment and try it for the next 2 weeks to see how it goes.
My questions are these: Are they right? How is it that burning fewer calories would burn more fat? What process is theoretically occurring in the body?
It’s very hard to test this, so I may be the test case. I know few people who are able to keep at 90-99% of target heart rate for 60 minutes, and I have never heard of anyone that can cutting back.
11-18-2003, 11:54 PM #2
Ya I hear what you're saying. Supposedly the "science" says that lower intensity exercise draws it calories from fat, when you start doing high intensity cardio it starts breaking down muscle as its primary source of energy.
Is it true? I still haven't figured it out yet. However you will read about alot of pros doing alot of walking for their cardio because of these reasons.
11-19-2003, 04:35 AM #3
when you do an exorbinant amount of cardio, like it sounds you do, your body uses it's own muscle for fuel, i think its after 20 minutes, any carbs you've eaten are burned, for the next 20 minutes, your body taps into fat, and after that it starts burning muscle along with fat, your body is designed to preserve it's fat stores so you have energy to burn in the long run
the problem with that is that your mucles are the engine that burns the fat, so when you kill the muscle, you kill the engine, over time making it harder and harder to burn fat, that's why marathon runners look like shit and sprinters look jacked
11-19-2003, 07:21 AM #4Originally Posted by scottninpo
The "Common wisdom" today is that you need togo at least 30 minutes EVERY day, but no more than 45 minutes. So, I am trying it for a couple weeks. I started 2 days ago, but it still seems that more intense longer MUST be better. I would love a scientific explanation for this that I am able to understand.
And that line about, "that's why long distance runner look like cra and sprinters look so goo," really is no longer the case. Sounds good, but there are a lot of long distance runners that are really buit these days. Further, using this theory, tryatheletes would look like shit too, right? Of course they dont cause they now train with weights. Seems to me that the reason they used to look like crap was because they weren't weight training, no that they were doing too much cardio.
Last edited by beenie; 11-19-2003 at 07:26 AM.
11-19-2003, 08:14 AM #5
if muscle sparing is important to you then you should look into HIIT cardio.
low intensity cardio is catabolic due to the duration of the exercise. high intensity cardio is also catabolic, but not as much b/c its short and sweet.
both have different benefits. overall, intense sessions will rev your metabolism for higher amounts of time. While low intensity will directly target your fat stores. among other benefits.
- Short duration, high intensity: Burns a little fat, burns no or little LBM, raises metabolism (HIIT)
- Long duration, low intensity: Burns a lot of fat, burns significant LBM, does not raise metabolism
HIIT cardio is ideal in my opinion
here is a great article on the subject...
High vs. Low Intensity Cardio
by Robert Brooks
Bodybuilders and those trying to shed as much body fat as possible continue to argue over the aerobic (cardio) issue. Which intensity is better, high intensity or low intensity?
Before moving to the pros and cons of high vs. low intensity, we have to define the word ‘intensity’. For exercise physiologists, intensity means the level of effort put forth during your aerobic session. This effort is most easily measured by the heart rate of the exerciser. The person who is exercising at a higher heart rate, say 65-70% of his maximum or higher, would be deemed working at a high level of intensity, while an individual working at a lower heart rate, roughly 60% or below, would be deemed lower intensity.
The debate can be framed simply: "Which level of intensity will help an individual lose the maximum amount of bodyweight?" The answer depends on your current level of fitness and percentage of body fat.
The Pro-Low Intensity Group Argues: Lower intensity burns more fat
This position has some merit. The human body burns mostly fat while at complete rest. While you sit there and read this article, you may not be burning up a heck of a lot of calories, but your body is relying on fat as fuel. Surprise! At rest, the body prefers to burn fat as fuel rather than carbohydrates or protein. The individual engaging in low intensity aerobic work will maintain his fat burning status. For example, walking – clearly a very low intensity form of aerobic exercise – allows the body to burn more calories than at rest. During low, and especially very low intensity aerobic exercise, the body remains in a fat burning mode, preferring to burn fat for fuel rather than rely on carbs or protein.
Labrada Bottom Line: Lower intensity aerobic work is a good way to burn fat – to keep your body in a ‘fat burning mode.’
Lower intensity burns less Protein
So the body burns fat at rest, and lower intensity aerobic work helps the body burn calories. This encourages your body to remain in a fat burning zone, where fat remains the choice source of fuel. As the level of aerobic intensity increases, the body begins to burn a little bit less fat, and increasingly more carbohydrates and protein. The pro-low intensity group argues that aerobics performed at a lower level of intensity will coax the body to burn up extra calories while preventing the burning of carbs and protein.
Their understanding is that lower intensity aerobics is less catabolic (muscle wasting) than higher intensity aerobics. Their hope is that longer aerobic sessions – up to one hour at a time – will burn body fat exclusively without causing the body to tap into carbohydrates - and especially protein - as fuel. The minute the body starts delving into its supply of carbs and protein, the situation turns from one that is beneficial (where burning fat is the goal) to detrimental (where muscle comes into play as a source of fuel).
In other words, when the body starts to burn protein, you’re no longer benefiting from aerobic work. Some of the protein utilized comes from hard-earned muscle and even the smallest loss of muscle causes the metabolic rate to drop.
Labrada Bottom Line: Lower intensity aerobic work can prevent the loss of metabolically active muscle mass for fuel.
The Pro-High Intensity Group Argues: Higher intensity burns more Calories
This position also has merit. That’s because the higher you can get your heart rate, the more calories you’ll burn. For example, an person running for 30 minutes will increase his heart rate far more than he would if he had walked for 30 minutes. During that 30 minute run, the greater intensity will have burned up more total calories than the lower intensity 30-minute walk.
Labrada Bottom Line: The higher the heart rate, the more calories you burn.
It’s The Calories, Stupid
Those who follow the higher intensity school of thought often point out that total calories burned is the key for those who hope to tip the energy balance from positive to negative. Following the basic premise to weight loss that the body will lose weight and body fat when an individual expends and burns more calories than consumed (eaten), the higher intensity method of aerobics is often used to burn as many calories as possible.
Labrada Bottom Line: If you take in too many calories of any kind – from carbs, protein or fat - you’ll gain body fat. Period. The opposite holds true with aerobics: the more calories you burn, the more weight you will lose.
Which is best for you?
So both systems of aerobics sound pretty beneficial. Determining which is best for you may depend on your level of fitness and your level of body fat. Let me explain. While fat is the main source of fuel at rest, individuals with varying degrees of body fat burn different ratios of fat, carbs and protein. People who are overweight rely on a greater amount of sugar (carbs) for fuel at rest and during aerobic exercise.
Relying on sugar as fuel rather than large amounts of fat poses an important dilemma. "Sugar burners" often experience a quick plummet in blood sugar levels during aerobic exercise which leads to a feeling of weakness or dizziness, causing the suspension of the exercise. For this group, very low intensity aerobic exercise of a long duration is best solution. It can encourage or "re-program" a sugar burner’s body to begin to use more fat for fuel and less sugar during aerobic work. Lower intensity aerobic sessions also prevent drastic swings in blood sugar levels, allowing heavy-set individuals to continue to exercise.
If you are carrying a lot of body fat, stick with low to very low intensity aerobic work for longer periods of time. 50% of your maximum heart rate for 45-50 minutes will help the body begin to burn less sugar and more fat. That is, longer-duration aerobics at a lower level of intensity actually helps the body adjust and burn fat as a fuel source, rather than sugar. As you lean down, you can adjust your aerobics to a higher intensity and shorter duration.
Lean and muscular people burn not only more total calories at rest, but a greater percentage of those calories come from fat. For example, a top bodybuilder with very little body fat can expect to burn a heck of a lot more fat – and less sugar – during an aerobic session than an overweight person. Lean people tend to rely on fat as fuel while overweight people rely on a mix of fat and sugar. Since lean people already burn fat, the higher intensity method of cardio is best as it causes a greater calorie burn. Leaner folks don’t have to take into consideration "what’ they are burning – fat or sugar – because they tend to burn more fat than any other source of energy.
11-19-2003, 08:54 AM #6
Basically, when you are putting your body through an extreme cardio session like that it literally freaks out. It searches to find an IMMEDIATE source of energy - and fat is not going to be it. If your body needs an immediate source of energy and it has used up its stored glycogen - it will begin breaking down muscle to produce more.
If the intesity is lowered to your target heart rate (say... 65%), your body can begin burning the fat much easier when it isn't in such a chaotic state.
In a way, glycogen and muscle burn like tissue paper - where fat burns like logs... in your metabolic furnace. You want to get those logs burning after igniting them with stored glycogen as quickly as possible... if the glycogen runs out before the logs begin burning... then you will begin using muscle to break down into an alternate quick fuel source for the fire. Thats a pretty rough analogy - but ya get my drift...
But what is it that you are trying to accomplish? Are you training for endurance, are your trying to gain muscle/strength, trying to lose fat while maintaining as much lean weight as possible... currently, what is the ultimate goal? Whats your somotype?
11-19-2003, 09:17 AM #7
Another thing to consider is endogenous androgen levels of drug free athletes. When you put your body through intense cardio training it will try and become more effecient. And carrying a lot of muscle is not effecient. The main reason is that the more lean weight you have the more active your metabolism is - the more calories you need to sustain an activity... the higher you basal metabolic rate is.
Your body will slow down its production of hormones like tesoterone to allow a break down of muscle tissue. Not only to allow for a quick energy source but to allow cortisol and other "distructive" hormones to lower you energy requirements (to lower your lean weight for a slower metabolism) to sustain the activity. The shift allows for a more effecient fuel economy in semistarvation (exercise induced). I know of a few studies that show a reduction in testosterone levels of due to intense, prolonged exercise...
For example... "... 5 athletes participating in an 1100 km run over 20 days demonstrated a reduction to half of normal testosterone levels by the end of the event (Schurmeyer, Jung, and Nieschlag, 1984). Reduction in plasma testosterone levels have been reported immediatly following exercise for marathoners (Dessypris, Kuoppasalmi, and Adlercreutz, 1976), ultramarathoners (Morville, Pesquies, Guezennec, Serrurier, and Guignard, 1979), triathletes (Urhausen and Kinderman, 1987) and cyclists (deLignieres, Plas, Commandre, Morville, Viani, and Plas, 1976)."
11-19-2003, 03:19 PM #8
wow, great posts, guys, lots of great info!
one thing i know for sure, is CARDIO IS BORING AS F***!!!!
i like to use hiit cardio myself, it's a lot more interesting and for me has worked better than long cardio sessions everyday, i would rather spend more time lifting and less time running
11-19-2003, 07:01 PM #9Originally Posted by Warrior
We can talk about my program, but basically, I work my ass off, weights and cardio. I always seem to make progress, but its not nearly what I want.
11-19-2003, 07:08 PM #10Originally Posted by Warrior
And by the way, I have found the article from Warrior and GetPsycho VERY helpful. I apreciate all of the assistance in understanding that I have received from each of the responders.
11-20-2003, 10:48 AM #11Member
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I know a professional model that stays in the single digits year around bro. He hates it too. I wouldnt worry too much about being that lean 10-14%BF is a great range. But here is what he does to stay that way.
4-5 days per week first thing in the morning on an empty stomach he does
10x1 min sprints with 1-2 min rest intervals in between in which he walks. He does it on the treadmill and his sprints are run at 15mph and his walking sessions are at 4.5 miles per hour. Once he completes his last run walk cycle he put the treadmill on a 15% incline and walks for 20 minutes. Thats 40 minutes of cardio 4-5 days per week and its a mixture of HIIT and slow paced cardio.
His lifting schedule is a little different. He trains to failure and uses mostly compound movements and normally uses a high rep scheme of 15-20+ but on occassions uses lower reps of 5-8. He only uses 1-3 sets per exercise. He changes up his split and exercises alot but its mostly Bench Presses or Incline Presses, Squats or Hack Squats, Deadlifts, Pullups(he does a shit load of pullups), Dips, Military Presses, and a few isolation exercises like lateral raises, curls, and maybe some pushdowns and abdominal work.
His diet is high protien, moderate carb, and low fat. Ill try to attach a pic of him shortly.
11-20-2003, 10:49 AM #12Member
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I forgot to mention that he uses a lot of ALA, and a whole truck load of Fina and Winny. I know he uses small amounts of Test and Var every now and then but he mainly sticks to the Fina.
11-20-2003, 10:52 AM #13Member
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11-20-2003, 10:53 AM #14Member
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You will have to sign up real quick to view it but its free.
11-20-2003, 11:19 AM #15Originally Posted by solidj55
Right now, I am primarily trying to cut through my routine and diet, though down the line I will see.
11-20-2003, 05:34 PM #16Member
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11-20-2003, 06:46 PM #17
nice posts, really nice, im copy-pasting most of them and showing tomorrow to the coach
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