Let me guess. If you had to choose between the fast, exhilarating cardio workout that gets you amped up or the slow and steady weight training routine that you dread, you will always pick the cardio.
Cardio is great. It helps you lose weight, stave off chronic diseases, and keeps your heart healthy. However, if you stick to only doing cardio training when you exercise, you are missing out on a lot that your body needs. Your body's muscular needs will not be met if you do not take the time to do some weight training. Here are four things that happen when you only do cardio.
1. You lose muscle mass.
If you are not challenging your muscles with weight resistance, your body will stop building muscles. If you have previously spent time building up muscle, you will lose it faster than it took you to gain it if you decide to only stick with cardio.
During weight training, your body makes enzymes that build your muscles and help to keep them strong. However, if you stop weight training, your body stops producing its muscle-maintaining enzymes, which will cause your muscles to atrophy. The enzymes that are responsible for metabolism are in your muscles, so your metabolism will therefore decline.
You actually lose muscle mass very quickly if you are not lifting weights, due to a chain reaction. After just one week, the amount of blood your body has for your heart to pump will begin to decline. Also, the mitochondria in your muscles begin to decrease.
Also, your nervous system will stop sending messages through the pathways that your body uses to control muscle contractions, which will cause muscle weakness and a decrease in power. The loss of muscle means your body will require more oxygen to do anything that it used to be able to do with less fuel. Altogether, without weight training, you are unable to push your muscles, heart, and lungs, as hard as you possibly could.
2. You won't lose fat.
If you stick to cardio, your body will adjust to your routine, which will cause you to burn fewer calories. When you vary your exercise schedule with different movements, as you do in weight training, you keep your body guessing and therefore burning calories.
Additionally, the more muscle that you are able to build from weight training, the more efficient your body will be in burning fat throughout the day. Doing cardio alone will not help you burn calories as effectively as if it was paired with weight training.
It is best to pair strength training with quick bursts of cardio to help increase the body's resting metabolic rate for up to a full 24 hours after exercising.
3. Your muscles will stay sore.
If you stick to only doing cardio without any other forms of exercise, your body will become stressed and tired. This is because you are constantly using the same muscles over and over and ignoring the rest. This can result in overuse injuries or strains on your muscles.
However, if you change up your cardio routine and add in some strength training, it will allow those muscles that you typically overuse to rest and regain their strength. Letting each part of your body recover from a workout is important in maintaining proper health.
4. You may develop long-term health issues.
Losing the lean muscles that you obtain during strength training puts more tensions and pressure on your body, which can lead to serious damage over time. Cardio-only workouts will increase one's risk for joint pain, injury, and breakdown, since strength training is an important part of maintaining bone density, strong ligaments, and strong tendons.