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Cardiovascular Training: Are you doing too much Cardio?

Updated on January 05, 2017

Too much of anything is bad for you

Cardiovascular Conditioning

Being that I am a true Ectomorph and have always been a hard gainer, even now as I've matured and well into the over forty years old age group, my metabolism has always remained in hyper drive. However, you can be lean and muscular and still not be cardiovascular fit. Being able to stay relatively lean and muscular all the time naturally can really give you a false sense of security. No matter how good you think you look, the heart is the most important muscle and needs to be worked out as well as the rest of your body. Cardiovascular training not only strengthens your heart health, increases blood movement into all of your muscle groups and invigorates the cardiovascular system, when done on a consistent basis it also assists in keeping your body fat at a low, acceptable level. It doesn't matter if your a body builder/fitness competitor or just want to stay fit and healthy, cardiovascular exercise will play a substantial role in the conditioning of your muscle. So what do you do if your one of those genetically gifted individuals (such as myself) that do not gain a lot of fat and pretty much stay lean year round no matter how bad your eating habits tend to be? I personally do not like to do cardio, especially on a treadmill, elliptical machine, stair climber etc. My cardiovascular activity comes on the basketball court. You put me on a court, I can and will run all day, but tell me to get on a treadmill and after 5 minutes I'm done. So how do you know when you are doing too much cardio? Is there a such thing as too much cardio? Of course there is, too much of anything is bad for you. Let's take a look at some guidelines that will determine if you are doing too much.

Cardio versus eating healthy

Different types of cardio training

What kind of cardio training do you do?

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Overweight/Obese versus Cardio

Unless your blind, it's not hard to tell that obesity/being over weight is quickly becoming an epidemic everywhere. Whether it's simply from people having bad habits, making unhealthy choices or it's a side effect of some type of health affliction, the bottom line is, it's a problem. You would think that it would be relatively easy for a person that's obese to lose weight, but it's not that simple. I'm sure many overweight individuals want to lose weight, however some may be misguided by false knowledge and don't know how to go about doing it, while others weight issues may be perpetuated by an underlying health condition. Most commercial weight loss programs will instruct an overweight person to count calories and implement a cardio routine. Sounds easy enough, however learning to eat healthy will be more beneficial in the long run rather than calorie counting. The majority of obese people are generally going to lack strength, range of motion and mobility is going to be limited at best. Some forms of cardio training will do little to improve this. Weight training won't be any easier either. The majority of overweight people will carry a lot of weight around the midsection making it difficult to use the machines you find in a gym or fitness center.

If you are an extremely overweight person, my advice to you on cardiovascular conditioning (after you have been cleared by your doctor of course) would be some walking, strength training exercises with your own body weight and maybe some water aerobics would be a good start. The water will assists in supporting your body weight, alleviate the stress on your joints while increasing your heart rate. Finding a good, credentialed Personal Trainer would be very advantageous if you can afford one.

Sugar free Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients for Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 3 lbs Sweet Potatoes, (same size if possible)
  • 1 1/2 cups Pecan Pieces
  • 2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
  • 5 tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • Sugar Substitute Sugar Substitute

Instructions

  1. Poke the sweet potatoes/yams several times with a knife & roast at 400 F. until soft - about 45-60 minutes depending on size. Make the topping - pulse 1 cup of the pecans in food processor or blender until it is ground into a meal. Add about 1/4 cup worth sugar substitute, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, a pinch of salt, & 2 Tablespoons of the butter & process until blended. Mix the rest of pecan pieces in by hand
  2. Let the sweet potatoes cool for 10-15 minutes. Split & remove the pulp. Put into the food processor or blender & process with the rest of the butter (3 Tablespoons). Mashing with a potato masher is also fine, but the texture will be somewhat smoother if you blend/process. Add the rest of the seasonings (1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and black pepper). The amount of sweetener you add will be up to your taste and the sweetness of the yams, add the egg and blend. Put sweet potatoes in a buttered baking dish & sprinkle pecan topping over the top. Bake at 375 F. until the topping is browned.

Diet versus Cardio: Performing Cardio and gaining weight

So your moving and shaking pretty much on a daily basis on your cardio exercise of choice but yet your gaining weight instead of losing. Being consistent with your exercise routine and seeing little or no results, even worse seeing the scale move in the wrong direction, up instead of down can be discouraging to just about anyone. What this comes down to is your diet/eating habits. If your diet is balanced and healthy, your body will need to use more fuel (food) to have the energy to complete the cardio exercise routines with consistent movement and it will begin to burn calories stored as fat. The short answer to why anyone would be gaining weight while keeping a regular cardio routine is your eating too much. You are taking in more calories than you are burning off. Remember, 3500 calories equals a pound no matter how you look at it, so you may want to start keeping tabs on the number of calories that you are taking in.


Some people simply underestimate the importance of water. Being that your body is comprised of approximately 70% water, your water intake should be increased when performing cardiovascular activities, or any kind of exercise for that matter. If you are not drinking enough water, replacing the water that has been used/that is lost, your body will start retaining water which can cause weight gain. Energy drinks, pre-workout drinks, milk or juice may taste great but they will only add to your daily calorie count. Drink Water!! If an unexplained weight gain was the only reason you even began to exercise in the first place, now may be the time for a check up and consultation with your physician as this may have occurred from some type of unforeseen, underlying health condition. If you have not exercised in an extended period of time, it's better to be safe and see your doctor before you even start a training program to ensure everything is in working order.

Sugar Free Sweet Potato Casserole

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 serving (1/2 cup)
Calories 233
Calories from Fat99
% Daily Value *
Fat 11 g17%
Carbohydrates 30 g10%
Sugar 0 g
Fiber 5 g20%
Protein 4 g8%
Cholesterol 54 mg18%
Sodium 187 mg8%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Rating the Sweet Potato Casserole

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Preserving and maintaining the lean muscle you have

Preserving and maintaining lean muscle

Once you have put in the work and obtained some lean muscle, you will want to maintain and preserve it. So when your body fat is low to begin with, how can you still burn fat without losing muscle as well? The general idea is doing a combination of weight training to build and maintain the muscle, also prevent atrophy, while your cardiovascular work burns off the excess fat. If your one of those people that just jumps on the latest fad diet to lose fat, you will also lose muscle without the assistance weight training. The first thing that you need to understand is, unless this is the first time you have ever done weight training in your life (this is when you see the biggest results/changes in your body ) you can not build muscle and lose fat at the same time. Your body is in one of two different conditions, anabolic or catabolic. In layman's terms, when you gain weight, your body is in an anabolic state, building by gaining muscle and fat. When you lose weight, it's in a catabolic state, breaking down losing fat and muscle. The linking of muscle and fat are impossible to avoid, that's just how the human body works. However you can control it. When your caloric intake gradually begins to decrease (the leaning out process) the body must atone for the energy that has been lost so it goes through a process called gluconeogenesis (meaning it breaks down proteins in the muscles and fats in adipose tissue and converts into energy). You do not want your body eating into your hard earned muscle, so you will need to increase your protein intake, keeping protein constantly available in the blood stream so that the body has no need to go digging into your muscles. It's imperative that your pre-workout meal and post workout meals are designed specifically for your body with the proper macronutrient breakdown as these are the best times you can influence the body the most. Obviously in the leaning out process your carbohydrates will be reduced, so good, low glycemic carbs such as oatmeal, rice, beans and my personal favorite sweet potatoes should be consumed when you do eat them.

Sprinting burns muscle, not fat and sugars

Lean Muscle versus Cardio

When you are already lean and muscular and muscle preservation is the objective, high intensity cardiovascular activity is a very bad idea. Any kind of activity that forces your heart rate above 140-145 beats per minute is more for athletic performance/training rather than muscle preservation. Short burst cardio activity such as sprints, high intensity stair climbing or rowing is going to burn muscle, not fats and sugars (carbohydrates). A good rule of thumb when attempting to preserve muscle is the longer you do some low to moderate intensity cardio work, the more muscle you will preserve. Walking or a stationary bike are also very good movements that will give full body intensity with minimal metabolic increase. There are no bad or unsafe cardio activities that should not be performed as long as the intensity keeps the heart rate under 120 bpm (beats per minute). Cardio training on an empty stomach is also a good idea in order to burn stored fat and not the sugars and carbohydrates in the blood stream and digestive track. Those energy drinks that you gulp down might taste good and provide you with energy, however the do more harm than good when it comes to cardiovascular.

Understanding and learning the way your body processes and responds will determine whether or not you are doing too much cardiovascular work. Being lean and doing high intensity cardio every so often isn't going to hurt you, change is good, as it keeps the body guessing. However done on a regular basis, it is going to expend muscle.

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    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Learned much from this article. Looking fit is one thing; we still have to take care of the heart. I'm not consistent with water, but I'll keep trying. Thank you for the recipe and the information.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      A lovely recipe and helpful information to keeping fit.

    • profile image

      dragonflycolor 3 years ago

      i hate cardio, but i know i need it. great hub!

    • kcsunny1 profile image

      Tara G 3 years ago from Leawood, Kansas

      Great read! (as always) I hear you talking to me about "jumping around", Kevin ;) I need all the advice I can get as to not wither away to nothingness.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very well done article. I learned a lot thank you.

    • Alphadogg16 profile image
      Author

      Kevin W 3 years ago from Texas

      Thank you ladies and gentlemen Eric for the read.

      @Kcsunny1 - thank you honey, you need to stop jumping around so much and let those muscle recover and grow.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Thanks for the tips. I do try to drink lots of water, glad to see it really works. I am keeping this on file as a reminder.

    • Nancy Owens profile image

      Nancy Owens 3 years ago from USA

      Hi Alphadogg16! I fell into the working out too hard trap early in my journey. I would push myself until I was gasping for breath and then burn out. It wasn't until I started reading about aerobic and anaerobic exercise and how the body can only supply so much oxygen to the muscles at a time that I began to change the way I was doing things. Now I have to confess that I get lazy sometimes and don't push myself hard enough! :)

      Hope you don't mind, but in my new fitness Hub I placed a link to your profile for people who want more advanced fitness information than I can give.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Love a good sweet potato. I am looking forward to trying your casserole recipe.

    • Felisa Daskeo profile image

      Felisa Daskeo 20 months ago from Manila, Philippines

      I used to work out when I was younger since i love to stay fit. Now that I am 54, I just watch my diet and do some regimens and that's it. I would love to try your sweet potato casserole.

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