Blog - Cardio & Muscle Building Myths Exposed!
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Exposed! The 5 Biggest Myths About Cardio and Muscle Building

Spending a lot of time in the gym, and hanging around with people who have different goals, can lead to tips and advice becoming blurred. Misinformation evolves - Especially the link between cardio and muscle building. What's the best cardio? With weights, high or low reps? Heavy or light weights? What burns fat the quickest? Here's our guide to 5 biggest myths about cardio and muscle building.
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Myth 1. Low-Intensity Cardio Burns The Most Fat.
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This is probably the worst myth I hear in gyms! It's not only incorrect, but it also causes the people who believe it to waste heaps of valuable gym time.

It's simple to see why people think that bashing the Cross-Trainer or Treadmill for 40-60 minutes at a time is working, when they see 300/400 kCals burning away. But the problem is that they're too focussed on the calories they see on the display. Instead, they should be focussing on high-intensity cardio intervals (HIIT) that will continue to burn calories well after the session ends.

Here's an example; Would you rather spend an hour on a treadmill and burn 400 kCals, or spend 20 minutes doing HIIT and burn an ADDITIONAL 700 kCals over the following 24 hours? If you did that three times a week, over a year you'd save over FOUR DAYS of time and burn an EXTRA 46,800 kCals! (roughly an additional 6kg of body fat). No contest!
Myth 2. Early Morning Cardio Burns More Fat.
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To be fair, the pseudo-science behind this myth sounds pretty convincing. However, it's been overwhelmingly proven wrong over the last few years.

The myth suggests that if you do your cardio first thing on a morning, before breakfast, your body will use fat stores to provide the energy needed.
Sounds right, yeah? Nah...!

Research has actually proved that fasted cardio has a couple of quite serious down sides. Firstly, it can result in greater muscle wastage because your body tears down muscle at a higher rate to use as energy. Secondly, fasted exercise limits the 'after-burn' effect, which can last for up to 48 hours when you have food in your system.

The vast majority of research suggests that eating first thing actually speeds up your metabolism on it's own, and that we can actually burn MORE calories (and fat) by working out AFTER we've eaten.
Myth 3. Cardio Burns Fat and Weight Training Builds Muscle.
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Another common myth - Often reinforced by the muscle-bound lads stalking the free-weights area and the slender athletic types buzzing away on the rows of cardio equipment.

This myth was actually debunked way back in the 1980's. In actual fact, (sit down for this one), The FASTEST and most PERMANENT way to lose body fat is to build a LEAN muscle mass and develop a healthy diet.
I often hear people say to me 'I'm going to do loads of cardio first to lose fat, then I'll do some weights". WHAT...!?!? Losing what you think is just body fat (it's not, it could be up to 40% muscle too) by doing hours and hours of cardio every week is simply wasting your time.

By integrating resistance exercises from DAY ONE, you'll build more lean muscle (not necessarily bulk), which burns body fat all day long! Every ounce of muscle you gain burns calories whether you're working out or not. Put simply, you can have it BOTH WAYS!
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Myth 4. Cardio Before Weights.
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This isn't really a myth, more misguidance. So many beginners (and quite a few more experienced athletes) aren't sure whether it's best to do cardio before weights, or hit the weights and then do cardio. Thankfully, there is a right answer here, ready?

ALWAYS DO YOUR WEIGHT TRAINING FIRST. (If you're doing both in the same session that is). Here's the reasoning. If you use too much of your energy doing cardio you're not going to have enough left in the tank to perform an effective resistance session.

You might also have an issue where your body starts to burn more muscle for energy because you used up all of your glycogen stores up on the cardio machines! Even better, Do weights one day, cardio the next day, then rest and repeat :)
Myth 5. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is only for Advanced Athletes.
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High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) comes in all kinds of variations. It's an individual thing, but it's great for ALL abilities.

High Intensity Intervals for an experienced athlete might mean sprinting like a Cheetah for 30 seconds, then jogging for two minutes, repeating for maybe 20-30 minutes. But for a less experienced, or less fit person, jogging might be the high intensity part, with walking the cool-down part.

As you become more fit, the time devoted to the walking part decreases, and the high-intensity part increases. In any case, the less-fit person will still get the SAME benefits as the person doing the sprinting, because the high intensity is what YOUR body thinks is intense.

High-Intensity Interval Cardio is quite simply the BEST. As we saw in Myth 1, you burn loads more calories in less workout time.
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