How Cardio Exercise Wastes Muscle Mass

If you only do cardio sessions for exercise, you are losing muscle mass (your top fat burning tool). And, if you do too many long, slow, steady-state cardio sessions, (like 5 or 6 sixty-minute sessions a week for weeks and weeks), you are losing muscle mass.

Use short burst intervals for cardio to save your muscle mass, burn fat faster and see your body lean out sooner. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a proven effective fat-burning cardio exercise method.

Also, HIIT is the best way to burn fat, while saving muscle mass in the shortest amount of time. All that's needed is 20 minutes per workout session. This type of cardio will also give you superior heart health compared to long, steady-state cardio.

Doing this type of cardio will burn more calories and fat during and after your workout. Exercise Post-Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) causes your body to burn more calories and fat after a tough workout. Your body has to work harder to get back to its pre-exercise state. Fat burning and metabolism can increase for up to 48 hours after your workout.

See Top 10 Weight Loss Tips

Long, traditional 1 hour cardio sessions can have a negative impact on hunger and stress hormones which can cause increased appetite and cravings for sugary and other fatty foods.

Research at Duke University, directed by Dr. Cris Slentz, supports high-intensity exercise for better fat loss. The eight-month study showed that people could lose weight with exercise and no dieting. Those who exercised intensely (especially using interval training) lost much more fat than those who exercised moderately.

According to the research, the high-intensity exercisers had these advantages over the low-to-moderate intensity exercisers:

--more release of fat from cells
--more fat used as fuel during exercise
--increased metabolic rate after exercise

Here are 5 interval cardio workouts to burn more fat and save your muscle mass:

1. Sprints. After a proper dynamic warmup (like jog/run progressively for 5 minutes), sprint for 60 yards and walk back to the starting line. The sprint has to be at maximum effort. Do this rotation for 20 minutes.

To continually challenge yourself, progress this cardio exercise to surfaces such as grassy inclines and hills. Weighted resistance, such as vests, could also be used.

2. Jumps. This includes exercises such as squat jumps, jumping jacks, jump rope, pike jumps, side-to-side hops, front-to-back hops and tuck jumps. You can use one exercise or 2-5 exercises during a workout. Do the intervals for 30 seconds and walk for 1 minute. Total workout time is 20 minutes.

3. Mountain Climbers. The mountain climber is a versatile exercise in that you can do it on level ground, on an incline, knee-across-your-body, as a warmup, as cardio or as a speed exercise. I like to include mountain climbers as part of a bodyweight cardio session.

Either way, include mountain climbers in your workouts more often. It is one of the best and toughest exercises out there. It is a compound exercise in that it works the calves, quadriceps, glutes, back, chest, triceps, abdominals and shoulders.

You will need high levels of core strength to do this exercise the right way for each set. Do the intervals for 30 seconds and walk for 1 minute. Total workout time is 20 minutes.

4. Bodyweight Cardio. Get strength and cardio benefits with this highly effective form of exercise.You could do a workout that includes squats, squat jumps, pullups, pushups, burpees and inverted rows. You won't get bored doing this type of workout!

Do the intervals for 30 seconds and walk for 1 minute. Total workout time is 20 minutes.

5. Cardio blasts. Between each weight training exercise set, do 30-45 seconds of jump rope, mountain climbers or squat jumps full speed. It's just that simple and that tough.

Rest 1 minute after doing a cardio blast. Rest 2-3 minutes after completing a weight training circuit and repeat the circuit 1 or 2 more times.

All of these workouts are great for burning fat, building muscle mass and improving heart health. These workouts are not for beginners, those getting back into shape or those with health issues.  Getting started with walking would be better in these cases, after your doctor's approval.

Do interval cardio for your cardio workouts and you will burn more fat and save your muscle mass.

Be sure and download your Free Bodyweight 500 Metabolic Fat Burner Workout Book below and start shaping your body faster! There are 3 levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. You will also get fat-burning menus!

About Mark


Mark Dilworth is a Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist and since 2006 he has owned Your Fitness University, Her Fitness Hut, My Fitness Hut, Sports Fitness Hut.

Mark has helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle changes that lead to better long-term health, which includes acceptable body fat and ideal body weight.He does not recommend fad diets, quick weight loss gimmicks, starvation diets, weight loss pills, fat burner supplements and the like.

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