Doing too much cardio? If so, you may actually be working against your weight loss goals. Excessive cardio can put your body in a catabolic state (where muscle, rather than fat, is being burned). This slows down your metabolism too, which is bad news for future fat-burning.
Keep reading to find out how to know if you’re in danger of overloading on cardio, plus what to do instead.
1. You’re working hard, but not getting toned.
Cardio is a good choice for helping you lose weight, but it’s your lean muscle tissue that delivers that “toned” look. If you’re overdoing it on cardio, you may be reducing your body fat at the same rate as you’re reducing your lean muscles—an easy mistake to encounter.
Try this instead: Side Plank
Step 1: Begin by sitting on the floor on one hip and pushing yourself up into the side plank. The shoulder should be stacked over the wrist. The chest and hips are square to the same side. Stack or stagger (shown here) the feet for balance. Squeeze the lower oblique to stay lifted.
Step 2: Repeat on the other side.
2. Your joints are constantly sore.
It’s natural to be sore after a particularly strenuous workout, but too much cardio can lead to overuse injuries in the places you work the hardest: your joints. Running and cycling both put strain on the ankles, knees and hips, so if you’re constantly feeling pain in those areas, it may be time to try a more joint-friendly exercise.
Try this instead: IT Band Roll
Step 1: Come to your side and place the roller under the bottom leg below the hip bone. Stack or stagger the feet. You can also place the top leg in front of you like a kickstand for better balance. Stay low by propping yourself up on your elbow.
Step 2: Move the roller under the leg by shifting the entire body toward your head, then toward your feet. Do not roll over the hip bone. Stop and rest of the pressure over sore or knotted areas.
3. You’re sick all the time.
If you’ve noticed a sudden uptick in the number of colds that come your way, cardio could be to blame. Running too much can cause a spike in your cortisol levels, which often presents itself as a weakened immune system. Cut down on cardio to stay healthy? Yeah, we said it.
Try this instead: Weighted Punches
Step 1: Hold a pair of 3- to 5-pound dumbbells at shoulder height with arms bent, palms facing in.
Step 2: In a slow, controlled motion, punch your right hand diagonally across your body to the left, keeping it at shoulder level. Allow your torso to rotate slightly as you punch, but keep your lower body still throughout the move. If you feel the move in your shoulder rather than your chest and back, slow down. You should feel your chest and upper back muscles flex and contract. Return to start, and alternate sides for the instructed amount of time.