Cardio is great for your health, right? Doctors recommend that you engage in cardiovascular exercise, called cardio for short, almost every day. If you do, you’ll live longer.
The current recommendation for cardiovascular exercises is that you do 30 minutes a day, five days a week, if you’re doing moderate intensity cardio. For vigorous aerobic activity, it’s recommended you do 25 minutes of this kind of exercise three days a week for maximum health benefits.
Doing so strengthens your heart, helps you to stay fit, helps boost your immune system, and ensures that you live longer. But how much cardio is too much cardio?
Is there a point where a doctor would say that you’re doing too much cardio and it’s actually unsafe? It’s not a question most people will ask themselves, but it is one that you should be asking. Why is that? Well, because it’s actually possible to do too much cardio exercise. How much cardio is too much? Let’s talk about it.
This Is Too Much Cardio
There is a point where you can be doing too much cardiovascular exercise. Medical experts say that for the average person, if daily cardio sessions are lasting for more than an hour, it could be harmful. There are athletes who are actually overworking their body and their heart by doing too much cardio. It’s not uncommon to find athletes doing more than 10 hours of intense cardio over a seven-day period. That can actually cause damage to their heart that might never get better.
Just know that doing too much cardiovascular exercise can permanently damage your heart, weakening it and making you susceptible to heart disease and heart failure. So, instead of making your heart stronger by doing regular cardio, you could be overworking it and wearing it out sooner.
The heart is a muscle that benefits from exercise and work. As you work out the heart, it will become healthier and stronger. A mighty heart can fend off disease and will keep pumping blood much longer than a weak and feeble heart. However, it’s possible to work your heart too much, overstressing it and wearing it out. You can cause irreparable damage by abusing your heart through too much cardio activity.
What happens when you push your heart too hard for too long? You can actually make it stiff, and what that does is add extra stress to your heart, which can lead to trouble in keeping up a regular heart rate.
How Close Is the Line Between Healthy Cardio and Too Much?
If you’re wondering how much is too much cardio, there’s good news. The difference between the healthy amount of cardiovascular exercise and a harmful amount is considerable. You can look at the numbers above again to see how they compare, but to put it in simple terms, if you double the recommended amount of cardio exercise, that can be dangerous. We’re especially talking about intense cardio activity. It’s okay to engage in intense cardio a few times a week for short periods of time. The optimum session is about 25 minutes of intense cardio, but if you double that, you’re looking at a dangerous amount.
Most people will never get into those excessive cardio sessions. They’ll never reach that danger zone and not have anything to worry about in regards to doing too much cardio. However, if cardio exercise is a big part of your exercise routine and you tend towards intense workouts, you need to be careful about overdoing it.
How Much Cardio Is Too Much for Building Muscle?
We’ve talked about the dangers of too much cardio and of overly long intense cardio sessions, but what about how much cardio is too much when it comes to building muscle? Can you overdo it and hurt your body’s ability to develop muscle quickly and effectively?
Serious weight lifters have their own set of optimum cardio sessions. If you’re looking to build muscle, particularly for professional weightlifting, then 30 to 40-minute sessions of cardio done three or four times a week is ideal.
Not everyone can keep up this regimen, and you definitely want to listen to your body to see if you may be overworking it. If you feel like you’re experiencing heart problems, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. You may be overdoing the cardio, and while that same amount could be okay for some people, it might not be good for you. There may be underlying medical conditions you don’t know about or that you don’t know the full extent of, and these things can come to light as you engage in extensive cardio workouts.
Of course, doing too much cardio as you try to build muscle can be dangerous, permanently damaging the heart. Not doing enough cardio can keep you from building your muscle like want to. You may not be able to reach your body goals as soon as you’d like if you’re not doing enough cardio. Once again, just stay away from those 60-minute intense cardio workouts that are very dangerous. The 30 to 40-minute sessions for intense bodybuilding can be intense cardio, but be careful about doing too much.
What happens when you’re trying to build muscle and do too much cardio? You can actually burn muscle instead of fat, if you’re not filling out your workouts with the right kinds of exercises. Cardio won’t burn muscle on its own, but it can burn muscle if you do it before a weight training session, or if you do high impact high intensity cardio or if you’re doing cardio too much. You want to make sure you’re supplementing your workout with a healthy diet that’s designed for the workout regimen you’re doing. You also want to make sure you do it enough weight training and doing your weight training at the right time.
How Much Cardio Is Too Much for a Woman?
Men and women are very different when it comes to working out, with different requirements and often different fitness goals. They may not have the same trouble areas and therefore may do different exercise sessions and different exercises. The same rules for excessive cardio sessions apply to women as they do to men. You want to stay away from those intense cardio sessions that are anywhere near 60 minutes long.
At the same time, you want to watch for signs that you could be overdoing it with the cardio exercises. You may think, well I’m staying away from overly long intense cardio workouts, but that’s not the only thing to watch for. You need to look for indications that you’re doing too much cardio, like painful joints, poor sleep, poor immunity, muscle loss, and routine soreness. These are just a few of the signs to look for that could indicate you’re doing too much cardio. If you start to notice any of these and you wonder if you’re doing too much cardio, you probably are.
How Much Cardio Is Too Much for Fat Loss?
Cardio can be a great way to burn fat. High intensity workouts can really get your heart pumping and the sweat pouring, burning off fatty tissue. If you would like to burn fat during your cardio workout, you need to be doing at least 75 minutes of high intensity cardio. It’s good to get about 150 to 300 minutes of medium intensity exercise for the week, if you’re looking to burn fat.
Once again, you can overdo it with the cardio and instead burn muscle rather than fat. This happens when you do too much cardio at too high of an intensity for too long. You may want to cut back your sessions or lower your intensity level if you find that you’re losing fat and muscle.
What To Know about Steady State Cardio
If you train for endurance and you keep up a steady, high pace in your training, this is known as steady state cardio. Steady state cardio is great for teaching your body endurance, but you can do too much of it.
How much steady state cardio is too much for rowing, weight loss, and weight lifting? Ideal session length for steady state cardio is about 30 minutes day, or 30 minutes for each session. These short sessions are great for building up endurance over time and helping you get into shape quickly. You may not make much progress with sessions that are much shorter than that, but you also don’t want to overdo it. Once again, pay attention to your body and signs of overtiredness, soreness, lack of sleep, and a low immune system.