Irrespective whether you are an Ectomorph (Lean body structure usually termed as skinny guys), Endomorph (High body fat percentage) or a Mesomorph (Muscular and Built body type) you might have encountered this doubt a multiple times before going to hit the cardio machine or a long run. You may be a hard core lifter or a lightweight freak but your indolence to do cardio is not because that you are lazy, the worry is regarding your hard gained muscles!!! Right?? But what’s the fact. Is there anything like you will lose your muscle mass??? Let’s discuss this shortly.
A proper balance between cardio and weight training is absolutely necessary for the success of any training goal. But how much cardio is enough can be one of the most challenging aspects of any training program. Like there is no perfect workout routine, there is no perfect answer for this conflict. The reason behind is that muscle gain and muscle loss depend on tons of factors and cannot be judged with a cardio workout. It also depends on your goal, the way you are going to execute it, your workout and diet strategy, your rest and recovery period and it goes on.
If you are aware about the order of nutrients breakdown for energy you can save muscle mass, build muscle and increase fat loss. Let’s understand how human body utilizes the fuel for workout. While doing strength training workouts or any forms of cardio our body requires energy. When energy is needed, our body depend on glycogen storage which is quickly mobilized to deliver the fuel that the body needs. Glycogen is a form of glucose that the body stores for future use. Glycogen is stored mainly in the liver and the muscles.Approximately, liver can store 100 grams of glycogen and 400 grams glycogen can be stored in muscles. After an intense workout session the glycogen storage gets depleted, body depends on fat source as fuel. Fat loss plan and shredded plan work by depleting glycogen, causing the body to burn fat for energy.This is the theory behind how body can burn fat efficiently.
Muscle break down happens when your fat stores are extremely low or depleted. In normal conditions when you are eating regularly body doesn't use muscle for energy. Only when there is no other fuel available or when you’re in starvation mode protein is used as fuel. Cardio, running, weight lifting and all forms of workout utilize glucose first and then go to stored fat once it’s all out. If glycogen is not refilled post workout then you can lose muscle too. A 20- 30 minutes cardio or short sprints does not burn muscle mass instead it boost muscles and aid for speedy recovery. But contradictory, if your body fat percentage is too low and you have completely depleted your glycogen then your body will burn muscle to survive because at this stage that’s the only energy source available. Performing too much cardio will put your body in catabolic state and can also burn hard - earned muscles. Most important to remind you a poor diet strategy will definitely burn your muscle mass even if you a hardcore muscle trainer. You can refer to my Workout Plan Page and select your program for how much cardio is enough for you.