You need to exercise more.
That's the message you likely hear on nearly a daily basis. With an increasingly scary obesity epidemic on our hands, encouraging people to get more exercise seems like an obvious step.
For many people, this means strapping on a wearable fitness device and doing more walking, jogging, cycling, or other cardio-focused activities that get their heart rate moving and calories burning.
Cardio certainly has its health benefits, but there comes a point when you might be doing too much.
In fact, doing too much cardiovascular exercise may be actually preventing you from getting the fitness results you're looking for.
Are you experiencing cardio overload?
Here are four indicators that suggest you may be doing just that, as well as one simple solution that will get you back on the right track:
1. Your Body Desperately Holds Onto Fat
When it comes to shedding fat, many people simply ramp up their cardiovascular exercise. This makes sense - as you run on the treadmill longer, you see your "calorie count" rise. That will surely lead to weight-loss, right?
Unfortunately, the positive fat-burning effects of cardio exercise are short-lived. Once you stop exercising, your body's metabolism quickly returns to its normal state. If cardio is your go-to exercise then you are forced to do more and more in order to see ongoing weight-loss results.
This becomes problematic because increased cardio training can lead to decreased muscle mass. If your body loses even the slightest bit of muscle, your resting metabolic rate (i.e. how many calories you burn when you're NOT exercising) dips even further. Your body will begin to shed fat even more slowly...unless you do even more cardio.
It can become quite a vicious cycle!
2. Your Body Remains "Soft" No Matter How Much Weight You Lose
If weight-loss is your goal, it can be exciting to see the numbers on the scale start to drop. Your hard work is paying off!
But weighing less doesn't necessarily mean your body will look the way you'd like. Using cardio exercise as your primary form of exercise can "shrink" your body but still leave you with a soft, undesirable physique.
Your body composition (i.e. the ratio of fat to lean tissue) determines the shape your body takes. Reducing your body fat while simultaneously reducing your lean muscle tissue (as we know cardio training can do), may actually prevent your body composition from changing at all!
In other words, all that work on the treadmill might make your body into a smaller version of what it was before instead of completely revamping your body's shape. This can be a frustrating side effect of doing too much cardio exercise.
3. You're Plagued By Chronically Sort Joints
Many forms of cardiovascular exercise can lead to both minor and major overuse injuries. Your body takes a pounding through the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back when you run. Cycling promotes poor posture in your shoulders and back. Even swimming, a form of cardio that is supposed to be joint-friendly, can cause shoulder issues over time.
Listen to your body.
How do your joints feel on a day-to-day basis?
If you are dealing with chronically achy or creaky joints, then your body might be asking for a change of pace.
Chronic joint soreness develops gradually so it can be easy to overlook. You might not suddenly notice a drastic change in how your body feels, but cardio overload may be taking a toll on your joints without you realizing it.
4. You Always Feel Drained of Energy
Exercise is supposed to be a natural energy-booster, and it certainly can be, but overloading on cardio training can have the opposite effect.
Exercise is a form of stress - it is physical stress. Stressing your body with exercise is what leads to physical improvements over time. When you run more, your body learns to deal with this stress by developing better endurance and aerobic capacity.
This is good news.
However, your body also has a finite capacity to deal with stress of any sort. Putting your body through too much cardio training during a time when you're dealing with other stressors (e.g. at work or in relationships) and your body will not be able to cope.
Oftentimes the first symptom of being over-stressed is a noticeable decrease in energy. Your body cannot recuperate from your demanding cardio training while simultaneously dealing with other life stressors. As a result, you get tired, worn out, and susceptible to illness and injury.
The Solution to Cardio Overload: Strength Training
If you're experiencing any of these four symptoms of cardio overload, it's likely time to consider switching up your exercise routine.
No, you don't have to stop exercising altogether, or even exercise less frequently, but a different style of exercise will likely be quite helpful.
Strength training is the perfect compliment to cardiovascular exercise.
First, strength training helps your body maintain muscle mass. Increased muscle will boost your resting metabolic rate and will help your body develop more aesthetically appealing physique (i.e. your fat:lean tissue ratio will move in the right direction).
Second, adding strength training to your exercise routine will provide the variety needed to avoid overuse injuries commonly associated with cardio-only training routines. Building strength will also support your joints, making them even less likely to suffer from chronic soreness or future injury.
Finally, the slower pace of strength training can be much less of a stressor to your body than constant cardio training. Replacing even two days of cardio training per week with a resistance workout can reduce the physical stress your body has to deal with and can therefore restore your energy levels.
Cardio training is excellent for your overall health, but balancing it with strength training will help you achieve faster results in a way that's sustainable for the long-term.
Article Source: makeyourbodywork.com