Does cardio build muscle? We all know that cardio is important for our health. But can you gain muscle and lose fat at the same time? For example, cardio helps to improve our cardiovascular system and can even help to prevent heart disease. But what about our muscles? Does cardio help to build muscle?

Does Cardio Build Muscle

The answer is yes and no. Cardio can help build muscle, but it depends on your type of cardio. For example, if you are doing low-intensity cardio, it will not do much for your muscles. However, if you are doing high-intensity cardio, preferably with weights, then it can help to build muscle.

The reason why high-intensity cardio helps to build muscle is that it helps to improve your VO2 max. This is the amount of oxygen that your body can utilize during exercise. The more oxygen your body can utilize, the better your muscles will be able to work.

So, to build muscle, you must ensure that you are doing some form of high-intensity cardio. This could be running, biking, rowing, or even swimming. Make sure you push yourself to your limit and get your heart rate up.

Cardio is essential for our health and can also help build muscle. Just make sure that you are doing the correct type of cardio for your goals.

Can Too Much Cardio Cause Muscle Loss?

The short answer is yes; too much cardio can cause muscle loss. However, there are a few things to remember before coming to this conclusion. First, not all types of cardio are created equal. Second, how much muscle you have to begin with will play a role in your susceptibility to losing it during extended periods of cardio.

If you’re looking to retain your muscle mass and want to do high amounts of cardio, you’ll want to make sure you’re eating plenty of protein and calories in order to maintain your muscle mass. If you’re eating below your body’s maintenance calory limit,

With that said, let’s take a more in-depth look at the effects of different types of cardio on muscle mass.

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT is a type of cardio that alternate between short bursts of all-out effort and active recovery periods. As a result, HIIT is more effective than other cardio types in fat loss and preserving muscle mass. For example, one study showed that HIIT was superior to traditional aerobic training in preserving leg muscle mass during weight loss.

So, if you’re looking to do some cardio without sacrificing your hard-earned muscle, HIIT is the way to go.

LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State)

LISS is a type of cardio that involves maintaining a relatively low level of intensity for an extended period. This could be like walking on the treadmill at a moderate pace for 30 minutes.

While LISS isn’t as effective as HIIT in fat loss or preserving muscle mass, it still has its place in a well-rounded exercise routine. LISS is a great way to increase your overall cardiovascular endurance and can be used as an active recovery day from more intense training sessions.

Long-Duration Cardio

Long-duration cardio, sometimes called steady-state cardio, is any cardio performed at a moderate to high intensity for an extended period. This could be like running on the treadmill for 45 minutes or cycling for an hour.

Long-duration cardio can be detrimental to muscle gain. For example, one study showed that just two weeks of long-duration cardio (30 minutes per day, five days per week) was enough to decrease muscle mass and strength in men significantly.

What Type Of Cardio Is Best For Muscle Gain?

This is a tricky question, as different types of cardio can be beneficial for muscle gain depending on the individual’s goals and preferences. However, some general guidelines that may help include choosing a type of cardio that is relatively high-intensity and shorter in duration, such as interval training or sprinting, as opposed to longer, lower-intensity workouts.

Additionally, it may be helpful to focus on exercises that target the legs and glutes, such as kettlebell swings, as these muscles are typically involved in most types of cardio. Ultimately, the best type of cardio for muscle gain is the one the individual is most likely to stick with consistently, as any exercise can be beneficial if performed regularly.

Other Cardio Exercises To Try

While high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and sprinting are two of the best types of cardio for muscle gain, many other exercises can also be practical. Other options include:

No matter what type of cardio you choose, the important thing is to ensure that you are working hard and pushing yourself to your limit. If you can do this, then you will be on your way to gaining muscle mass.


When should I do cardio without losing muscle?

This depends on your goals. For example, doing cardio without losing muscle may not be your best approach if you are trying to lose weight. Cardio can help burn calories and promote weight loss, but it can also lead to muscle loss if you’re not careful.

On the other hand, if you are trying to improve your cardiovascular fitness or want to add some variety to your workout routine, doing cardio without losing muscle may be a good option for you. Just monitor your progress and make adjustments to ensure that you still achieve your goals.

How much cardio should I do to lose fat without losing muscle?

It will vary depending on individual goals, body type, and starting level of fitness. However, a general guideline would be to do 3-5 days of moderate cardio per week to lose fat without sacrificing muscle mass. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) can also be practical for this purpose. As always, consult a doctor or certified fitness professional before starting any new exercise program.

How many days a week should I do cardio to lose fat without losing muscle?

Most experts recommend doing cardio three to five times per week for 30-60 minutes at a moderate intensity to see the best results. Again, as long as you’re eating enough and continuing your strength training. muscle loss shouldn’t be a concern regardless of the amount of cardio that you’re doing.

HIIT (high-intensity interval training) can also be effective for fat loss, so you may also want to consider adding this to your workout routine. Remember that consistency is critical to any fitness or weight loss goal, so be sure to stick with your plan and give it your all!

The Bottom Line

Yes, too much cardio can cause muscle loss. However, the type of cardio you’re doing and your overall training volume and intensity will affect how much muscle you lose. The best cardio exercises for muscle gain are exercises that you can do in short, intensive bursts which involve weights such as kettlebell swings or tire flips.

About the Author: Zoe Taylor

Zoe Taylor has a degree in Sports and Exercise Science and is an avid runner and fitness writer. Zoe works with BodyCapable by researching and writing cardio-related content. In her spare time, Zoe runs marathons, keeps up to date with the latest fitness trends, and enjoys walking her dog!