Basically, if you want to get / stay fit and healthy, you combine both. However, once you have set yourself certain goals, it is wiser to focus on one direction.
Endurance training and its positive effects
First, I want to clarify which types of There is endurance training: With steady state training, the body performs at a constant intensity over a longer period of time. In interval training, fast and slow movement phases alternate.
All types of cardio training have positive effects on the body, some of which are also beneficial for muscle building: especially the effects on the heart and Circulation as well as with regard to capillary formation, improved testosterone formation and faster regeneration (keyword: active regeneration).
Other positive aspects of endurance training:
• The risk of obesity and arteriosclerosis decreases.
• High blood pressure is counteracted.
• Insulin sensitivity is improved, blood sugar level drops.
• Psychological stress can be reduced.
The downside of Cardio training
As I said, it ultimately depends on the goal that you are pursuing with your training. If you want to run a marathon, you should be concerned with endurance training accordingly. But if you want to build up muscles, strength training should be the means of your choice.
In this regard, endurance training, carried out too long and too excessively, can have some disadvantages:
- Excessive release of cortisol (stress hormone)
- Injuries due to overstrained muscles, bones, tendons and / or ligaments
- Pre-exhaustion: The risk of injury increases during strength training if intensive endurance training has been carried out beforehand.
- Overtraining: This state is achieved when when strength and endurance are trained without enough breaks and the body lacks time to regenerate both stimuli.
All of these aspects have a negative effect on muscle growth.
Does cardio training lead to muscle loss?
Yes and no. As long as you have enough proteins, carbohydrates and fatty acids and you give your muscles adequate regeneration time, endurance training definitely does not lead to a breakdown of muscles. Instead, your body builds muscle mass, especially as a beginner and of course only when you are in a calorie surplus (i.e. when you are consuming more energy than you are using).
If you fail endurance training but in a calorie deficit (ie you use more energy than you consume), you will sooner or later lose weight and with it a certain amount of muscle mass. Of course, this only applies if you are natural.
The right balance
To build muscle, strength training alone is enough. If you still want to take the previously described positive effects of endurance training for muscle building with you, the right mix of both types is important. It is difficult to make general statements because everyone is different. For example, you can do 20 to 30 minutes of cardio twice a week in parallel to strength training.
You have to keep your goal in mind. If you want to build muscle, you have to focus on strength training. Endurance training has positive effects on muscle building. However, these are by no means so big or decisive that you should spend half of your training time with them. Both areas can only develop further if the training stimulus is followed by an appropriate recovery phase. But that’s often not the case when you’re trying to improve both at the same time.