Setting the record straight on some common misconceptions around cardiovascular exercise
1. Cardio kills muscle
Jack Hanrahan, personal trainer to the stars, calls this one of many ‘bro myths’. Not only is it untrue, it’s the opposite of the truth: doing cardio will in fact strengthen your ability to build muscle. By increasing blood flow, cardio makes it easier for your body to repair muscle damage, helping you feel less sore the next time you work out, thereby speeding up your training.
2. Cardio burns fat
Cardio burns calories not fat. “You can’t outrun a bad diet,” says athletic trainer Sean Kuechenmeister. If your end goal is to lower body fat, monitor your diet so that you are in caloric deficit. Be aware that only doing cardio and not monitoring your food can burn up muscle tissue, making yourself weaker. As with any element of training, the result cannot be achieved without tailoring your diet accordingly.
3. High-intensity cardio is best
In the hype around high-intensity interval training (HIIT), low-intensity cardio has been long forgotten, says Hanrahan. The most important cardio we can do is 30+ minutes of the heart being at around 70 per cent of its capacity. This is not to say that HIIT is not useful, simply that it must be done correctly and must be done alongside its all-important partner: low-intensity training.