Oh, cardio. Some people are obsessed with it and make their exclusive workout. Other people (like me) avoid it like the plague.
In the fitness world, I see a lot of people falling into the former category.
Even if they don’t only do cardio, they still probably do more cardio than is ideal for their physique goals and overall health goals. Contrary to what some people would have you believe, there is such a thing as too much cardio.
It’s not always easy to tell if you’re overdoing it, though. Read on to learn some of the signs that you may be doing more cardio than your body needs or wants.
Before I get into the signs that you’re overdoing cardio or not enough cardio, I want to quickly go over some of the benefits that cardio has to offer. Cardio is not an inherently bad thing — not at all. The dose makes the poison, as they say.
Anyway, the following are some of the greatest benefits of cardiovascular exercise:
- Better heart health
- Burn calories
- Increase stamina
- Boost mood
- Improve sleep quality
Signs You’re Doing Too Much Cardio
In order to experience the benefits of cardio, you need to make sure you’re getting the right dose. Not too much and not too little. Here are some signs that you’re overdoing cardio:
Stalled Weight Loss
If you’ve been relying heavily on cardio to help you lose weight and are no longer seeing the number on the scale decrease, your chronic cardio could be the problem.
When you do a ton of steady state cardio (moving at the same pace for an extended period of time), your metabolism adapts. When your metabolism adapts to that amount of movement, you stop burning the same number of calories that you used to burn. When the number of calories you’re burning decreases and the number of calories you’re consuming doesn’t, you’ll see a weight loss plateau.
In order to continue losing weight, you’ll either have to drop your calories or increase your cardio, neither of which is an ideal option, especially when you’ve already been dieting for a long time.
Chronic Muscle Soreness
Are you always sore and achy no matter how much stretching and foam rolling you do? Excessive cardio can contribute to this.
Overexercising in any capacity can lead to chronic muscle soreness and joint pain.
Your body can’t recover properly if you’re always stressing it out with more exercise. You need to give your body time to rest if you want to see results and continue to make progress.
This is true for cardio, strength training, and any other type of workout.
Are you tired all the time? Do you wake up and wonder how much time has to pass before it’s appropriate for you to take a nap?
Cardio is a stressor on your body. If you’re overdoing cardio, you might find that your body is in a state of chronic stress. As a result, it might crave sleep to try and cope with that stress.
Adequate amounts of cardio can promote better sleep, but excessive cardio can cause you to feel groggy and make it harder for you to get the amount of quality sleep that you need to function optimally.
No Muscle Definition
This might be a stretch, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that most people, when they picture their ideal body, picture a body that has some muscle definition.
You might not want to be super lean and shredded, but you probably want to see some definition.
In order to get that definition, you can’t make cardio your only form of exercise.
As I mentioned in this post, if you want to have muscle definition, you have to work on building your muscles.
If you do tons of cardio and never strength train, when you lose weight, you’re not going to have the lean, defined body that you want. You’re going to be “skinny fat” instead.
Signs You’re Not Doing Enough Cardio
While there’s certainly such a thing as too much cardio, it’s also possible to not be doing enough. The following are some signs that you could benefit from adding a little more cardio into your workout routine:
You Get Winded Doing Simple Activities
If walking up the stairs to going to the mailbox feels like a Herculean task, you probably ought to consider doing a bit more cardio.
You might not have dreams of being an endurance athlete, but I think everyone should strive to have the stamina needed to easily perform simple activities of daily living.
You Have a High Resting Heart Rate
Having a high resting heart rate is a sign that your heart health is not as good as it could be.
Doing regular cardiovascular exercise can help to lower your resting heart rate and decrease your risk of heart disease and other health problems.
A “normal” resting heart rate for adults is somewhere between 60 and 100 beats per minute. The lower your resting heart rate it, generally speaking, the better off you are health-wise.
Even if you can’t get your resting heart rate down to 23 beats per minute, a la Chris Traeger, you should still work on lowering it so that it falls within a healthy range.
Your Heart Rate Takes a Long Time to Slow Down
Does it take longer than is ideal for your heart rate to return to normal after exercising?
Within the first minute after you finish exercising, your heart rate should fall by about 20 beats. If it drops by less than 12 beats, that’s a sign that it’s taking you too long to recover.
So, Are You Doing Too Much Cardio?
Now that you know more about the two camps, which one do you think you fall into?
Do you do too much cardio? Not enough? Are you one of the rare few who’s figured it out and is doing just enough?
No matter which group you’re in, let me know in the comments down below!