Does Cardio Exercise Kill Gains?

By Blazho South
Dec. 13, 2019

Many gym-goers and weight lifters ask the same question when it comes to improving blood-flow whilst bulking: “will cardio kill my gains?

We get dozens of emails and social media messages every single day asking this question by people who want to increase their muscle size and strength. Today we take a look at if cardio does kill gains or if it is just a gym myth.

Why Would Cardio Stop Muscle Growth?

Before we look at wether cardio stops kills gains or not, we first must understand what causes muscles to grow in the first place. In order for muscles to grow in size and density, your body must be in caloric surplus. This means that your body must have enough nutrition to sustain new scar tissue formation. To form new muscle, your body must undergo protein synthesis. If you do not consume enough nutrition, then you will not be seeing any serious gains as you need to consume enough protein and calories throughout the day. It is commonly known that cardio burns energy, which depletes your calories. The fact that cardio burns calories has lead many people into thinking that cardio kills gains. This claim that cardio kills gains is not quite true in the way that many people think and it can be detrimental to your health to avoid doing cardio for this reason.

How Could Cardio Impact Gains?

If you are not consuming enough nutrition to be in caloric surplus, your gains will be stunted. So it is important that you are consistently in caloric surplus when working out. By not consuming enough, your recovery may be impacted negatively and your physical conditioning will suffer. When doing cardio exercises such as running, this will burn lots of calories. If you do too much cardio whilst not eating enough protein, your gains will be minimal. Recovery time will be much longer if you are doing excessive amounts of cardio whilst doing compound weight exercises also. The strain put on your body from cardio may make it difficult to complete a full workout using weights. Thus slowing potential muscle growth and limiting the volume of your muscles. Some weight-lifting coaches will tell you to avoid cardio all together when lifting for size. This will ensure that all of the protein you consume is used on muscle development. However, if you are looking to build a better and healthier body, then cardio is a necessity as your cardiovascular system is incredibly important. There are many ways to incorporate cardio into your workout regime without killing gains.

How To Do Cardio And Increase Muscle Growth?

When doing cardio, you burn lots of energy. This energy could be used in protein synthesis to develop new muscle. The fix for this is to consume more food to make up for the excess energy expenditure that you are outputting whilst doing cardio. If your sport has been in your weekly schedule for a long time, then your body will be used to this exertion of energy, so it is not a big deal. Also, to avoid injury when doing cardio it is essential that you have a thorough warm up and cool down regime. This will flush the lactic acid out and ensure that your body is in good condition to then do weight lifting activities. Upper and lower body stretching routines are also very important as this will minimize the risk of injury.

Prioritize your weight lifting sessions, this should come before any sport if you are looking to make serious gains. If you find it hard to schedule in cardio and weight lifting in every week, then do HIIT. ‘High Intensity Interval Training’ is a great way to boost your cardio conditioning in a short space of time. Each HIIT session can last from 10-15 minutes and should be done in the same session as weights for an even better result.

To conclude, cardio does have the potential to slow gains as it will burn your energy and can lead to injury which will prevent you from lifting weights effectively. Although, if you consume more and stretch thoroughly, then the negative impacts will be negligible. If you struggle to gain weight, then limit cardio activities as this will seriously effect your ability to develop muscle. You simply need to consume more protein-rich foods and eat more consistently.

This will help you increase strength and size in no time.