Cardio Without Losing Muscle

How much cardio can I do without losing muscle?

These expert techniques will help you to gain muscle mass and preserve your muscles by planning your weightlifting and running routines.

Fitness enthusiasts tend to categorize themselves either as runners or lifters. If you fall into the latter category, you are probably more comfortable lifting weights and performing supersets. Cardio? You do not think it is for you.

It is not cardio, it is conditioning.

1. It is possible to maintain muscle mass while improving your cardiovascular system.

2. Many people associate cardio with boring treadmill workouts or long, slog-like runs on elliptical machines. This is not a way to get muscleheads, or runners, anywhere. This is also a partial view. Regular cardio usually only works your aerobic system, and not to its maximum efficiency. Conditioning is a systemic approach that works to prime, work, and push all your energy systems, improving your overall cardiovascular fitness.

You can achieve cardiovascular fitness by conditioning. You can achieve this by combining sprints and weightlifting exercises with tempo runs and recovery runs – if they are programmed correctly.

You need to be proficient in both your anaerobic system and your aerobic system if you want to gain muscle through cardio.

What are these systems? How do you train them and what do they do?

Identify your energy system:

Three basic energy systems are essential to improving cardiovascular fitness and efficiency.

1. This system produces massive energy bursts within a brief period (about twenty seconds) in order to increase maximum strength, speed and/or power. The anaerobic system does not create lactic acids or use oxygen. Once the 20 second period is over, it kicks in.

2. Anaerobic lactate: This system can provide energy for short-term activities. It does not require oxygen but produces lactic acid.

3. Aerobic: This system gives you energy to do longer periods of exercise by breaking down carbohydrates, amino acids, and fatty acid. It is oxygen-dependent and can produce lactic acid, depending on intensity.

Each type serves a purpose but depending on your goals some types should be emphasized more than others. To train each type while maintaining maximum muscle, you will need to use a different stimulus, such as proper work, rest protocol, and volume.


Do two to three workouts per week if you want to keep as much muscle mass as possible.

You are likely not doing any strength training if you are excessively performing low-intensity aerobic exercise (3+ days per week). Strength exercises preserve your existing muscle and encourage the growth of new muscles. It is likely that you are also neglecting activities to improve the fitness of your energy system. It is possible to increase muscle mass while working your aerobic energy system, but only if you work at the correct intensity.

While four or more days of conditioning will deplete your muscle mass, three days will not. You will lose muscle mass with low intensity exercise. This is to maximize your size. You will get the muscular body of a distance runner.

Sprints are a fantastic way to challenge the anaerobic, alactic, and lactic systems. Sprints are a form of cardio that helps preserve muscle mass. Sprinters are jacked because they are elite. Sprint workouts work primarily in the alactic, lactic, and fuel systems. This improves your recovery and work capacity, as well as energy production and fuel consumption.

The second workout should focus on aerobics (i.e., Running, spinning, swimming, or hiking are all good options for a recovery pace.

Below are some examples of workouts.

Warm up before you begin each workout.

Example sprint run.

Two rounds of 5×20-40 meters sprints with full recovery between each set (2 minutes), and 4 minutes between sets. The key is to put in the effort. As you progress through the weeks, increase your sprints and distance. Even better if you can do this on a hill. This can be done on a stationary bicycle. This circuit of 8-second sprints and 12-second recoveries for 20 minutes is recommended three times a week. It has been shown to help promote muscle growth and fat loss.

Example tempo run.

3×800 meters

3×400 meters

1×1600 meter

You can do this on a treadmill or a track. Rest 60-90 seconds between intervals. The runs should be about a 7 on a 1-10 scale.

Example of recovery run

For 20-30 minutes, do a brisk, strong walk on an inclined treadmill, a short run, or a bike ride. Then, do a mobility workout.


Sprints are a fantastic way to add cardio to your strength training routine. Do them after you warm up before hitting the weights. Five rounds of sprints lasting 5 seconds with a 30-60 second rest between each. Allow yourself to recover for 4 minutes before you begin your full-strength workout.