Can cardio increase your muscle growth? In certain cases, yes.
There are two kinds of people in the bodybuilding community. Those who love cardio, and those who detest it. It is difficult to find someone in the middle. That is because, depending on who you ask, cardio can either help you achieve your goals, or be detrimental.
For example, although cardio is beneficial for many things, strength training is better for weight loss, because by building muscle, you are increasing your resting metabolic rate (RME) which is how many calories your body needs to keep functioning. The higher your RME, the higher your metabolism and, in theory, the leaner you are.
It is along those lines that turn a lot of people against cardio. As if cardio was a waste of time or even detrimental to hypertrophy. But is it? That is what a video shared by House of Hypertrophy decided to talk about.
According to them, utilising recent scientific studies, cardio can benefit long-term hypertrophy. Check it out.
Can Cardio Increase Your Muscle Growth?
In a study from Canada, a group of untrained people trained one leg with cardio (cycling) and the other without any cardio for 6 weeks. Following that, they did a 10-week strength program of bilateral lower body exercises with leg presses, squats, leg extensions, hamstring curls and calf raises.
“By the end of these 10 weeks, it was found slow and fast-twitch fibres growth tended to be superior for the leg that cycled for 6 weeks beforehand versus the leg that didn’t do anything for the first 6 weeks.”
The researchers came to the conclusion that cycling before a 10-week strength training program produced significant increase in capillary density, which has a relation to slow and fast-twitch fibre hypertrophy.
Those with lower capillary density compared to those with higher capillarization, have less inclination to hypertrophy, as two separate studies from the Netherlands and the United States reported. An increase in capillary density benefits recovery and supports the process of growing muscle fibres.
It is also important to note that lifting weights is more aerobic than most people think. For example, a 200-metre sprint involves 29% contribution from the aerobic system, the video explains. In the same way during lifting weights, recovery between sets, performance on later sets and recovery between sessions will rely on the aerobic system to a large degree.
Although scientific literature doesn’t show a correlation between the detrimental effects of doing cardio for strength gain, some studies (as seen above) state that you could get long-term benefits of muscle growth if you combine it with some form of cardio.
You could also take a break from your strength training and focus on cardio for a while to probably see great results. For example, a 2013 study showed that a group who trained for 24 weeks non-stop and one that trained for 6 weeks and rested for 3 weeks and then repeated two more times for a total of 24 weeks of training, saw similar strength gains in their chest, triceps and bench press. It is plausible that the group who rested in those 3 weeks could have gotten better gains if instead of resting they performed some form of cardio workouts.
For more information, see the video below.
There are many reasons why doing cardio or cardiovascular exercise is beneficial for your health and overall well-being. Here are a few of them:
- Improved Heart Health: Cardiovascular exercise helps to strengthen your heart muscles and improve circulation, reducing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
- Weight Loss: Cardio burns calories and helps to shed unwanted body fat. Regular cardio exercise can be an effective way to maintain a healthy weight.
- Reduced Stress: Cardio releases endorphins in the brain, which can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Increased Energy Levels: Cardio exercise increases the efficiency of your body’s oxygen usage, leading to increased energy levels throughout the day.
- Improved Sleep: Regular cardio exercise can help to improve the quality of your sleep, leading to better overall health and well-being.
Overall, doing cardio is a great way to improve your health and fitness, both physically and mentally. It is recommended that adults aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise per week.
Nutrition plays a critical role in achieving and maintaining fitness. Here are some of the reasons why:
- Fuel for the body: Proper nutrition provides the fuel your body needs to power through workouts and other physical activities.
- Muscle growth and repair: Adequate protein intake is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue. Consuming the right types and amounts of protein can help promote muscle growth and aid in recovery after workouts.
- Energy balance: Maintaining a healthy balance of macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat) is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and supporting physical activity.
- Nutrient absorption: Consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods can help ensure that your body is able to absorb and utilize the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly.
- Overall health: A well-rounded diet that includes a variety of whole foods can help prevent chronic diseases and support overall health, which is essential for optimal fitness.
In summary, proper nutrition is essential for achieving and maintaining fitness goals, as it provides the fuel, nutrients, and energy needed to support physical activity and overall health.