Cardio is an excellent way to burn fat and improve overall health.
But are you using it the right way?
Because cardio isn’t only enhanced our heart and lung health but also significantly influences our weight loss and muscle-building goal.
Although cardio improves our heart health and burns fat, doing it too much can negatively affect our bodies and can ruin our fitness goal as well.
In this article, we’ll know the answer to your question: how often should I do cardio to burn fat? And we’ll also know what should be our right cardio frequency while building muscle or losing weight to maximize our progress.
Things You Should Know About Cardio
Cardio is also called “cardiovascular.”
Cardiovascular is a zone when our heart beats about 50% higher than the normal rate.
For example, our average heart rate about 75-80 beats per minute. This means when our heart rate goes above 110 beats per minute (estimated), we’re in the zone of cardiovascular.
There is no specific move to do cardio. Any activity that raises our heart rate is a cardio exercise, and that could be:
- Brisk walking
- Jogging or running
- Rope skipping, etc.
Cardio is an exercise primarily for our heart and lung.
Because when we do cardio or any particular intensive activity, it increases our heart rate, which basically pumps the blood fast and increases blood flow throughout the body.
There’re lots of benefits of doing cardio, and it’s also proven that people who perform cardio regularly have a healthier heart, lung, and brain functions than those who don’t do cardio at all. (1)
Okay, now let’s move to the main point: how can cardio be done while building muscle or losing fat?
When we do cardio, we burn calories in the form of carbs, fat, muscle, and water.
This means, when our heart rate raises above about 110 beats per minute, we start burning calories in a combination of water, carbs, fat, and muscle.
And it burns around 200 calories by doing 20 minutes of cardio (depending upon your intensity).
Okay, now let’s move into your question.
How Often Should I Do Cardio?
As I said before, when we do cardio, we burn muscle as well as other ingredients, including carbs, fat, and water.
But most people believe that doing cardio will cause muscle loss.
Is it true? Let’s understand first.
It’s somewhat true, but some specific scenarios like if you’re not taking a protein-rich diet and giving your body enough food as an energy source.
This means if you’re not taking enough protein from your overall diet and not giving your body enough fuel, then you’ll probably start to lose muscle, especially when you’re doing 20-30 minutes of cardio every single day.
When our body runs out of fuel and suffers from a low-protein intake, our body will majorly target the muscle to use as an energy source instead of fat.
Because our body didn’t burn fat so quickly compared to muscle.
So, what should be the right strategy for cardio?
Read on to know!
When Building Muscle
Cardio can significantly ruin our gains if we’re not planning it in the right way.
What is the right way, or how can we avoid muscle loss by doing cardio?
Suppose you want to do cardio for about 20 minutes every day. So, you need to consume extra 200 calories on top of your daily maintenance calories to avoid losing muscle.
And these extra 200 calories should come from protein.
This means you’ll add extra about 50 grams of protein per day to make up your cardio calculations for your muscle-building goal.
However, if your main goal is to pack on muscle mass, then 20-30 minutes of cardio 2-3 times per week can be a great way to stay lean while gaining muscle.
It would be more helpful for you to separate your weight training and cardio workout into two different times.
For example, do cardio in the morning and weight training in the evening.
You should also know that doing cardio at a fasted state is a great way to burn some extra fat.
If you want to quickly put on some lean muscle mass, I would highly recommend you head over one of our articles that guides you on gaining lean muscle fast naturally with 5 Proven Tips.
Summary: Do 20-30 minutes of cardio for about 2-3 days to keep your heart and lung healthy while burning fat. Remember, if you’re taking a calorie surplus and high-protein diet, then your muscle loss chances are very minimal to no.
When Losing Weight
The fundamental of weight loss is eating less while burning more.
This means you have to take a calorie deficit diet to make your workout more effective because nutrition plays a significant role in speeding up your weight loss progress.
We can do cardio three times or six times a week along with resistance training to lose weight.
But the more frequent training, like six days a week for about 45-60 minutes, gets an advantage over three days a week.
Because a frequent workout routine will help you burn more calories and significantly improve your stamina and endurance as well.
However, as I mentioned before, whether you’re trying to lose weight or gain muscle, you must prioritize your diet first.
Performing 3-4 days of cardio for about 30-45 minutes along with 2-3 days of resistance training in a week can be perfect for losing weight.
You can switch this workout split each week to keep things balanced.
Remember, resistance training or weight lifting is also necessary when losing weight because it helps to maintain a healthy muscle mass in the body.
And also, a high-intensity resistance workout can burn a good amount of calories.
Don’t bore yourself by doing the same exercise over and over. Instead, keep switching your routine with different types of exercises like I mentioned before.
Basically, cardio could be any activity that raises your heart rate above about 110 beats per minute.
Summary: When we’re trying to lose weight, our aim should be doing 3-4 days of cardio for about 30-45 minutes along with 2-3 days of resistance training. Make sure you train about five to six days a week to speed up your progress.
Cardio is basically for the improvement of your heart and lung health.
Remember, cardio doesn’t significantly affect your fat loss or muscle-building goal if you’re not prioritizing your diet.
So, you have to be smart enough to strategize your nutrition and training according to your goal.
I hope you got the answer of your question: how often should I do cardio to burn fat?
If you have any questions regarding cardio? Ask in the comment below. We’ll glad to help you!