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How Effective Can Cardio Training Really Be For You?

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Every day we roll out of bed and walk into the real world, we face risk. We could be hit by a truck crossing the street, or by lightning checking our mail. It's a very unsure world and there are no guarantees in life. It's the same case every time we walk into the weight room. We're always at risk for injury, no matter what exercise we are completing. Most bodybuilding fans remember when Kevin Levrone, at the peak of his bodybuilding career, tore a pectoral muscle while warming up with a "relatively" light 60 pound dumbbell for DB chest flyes. If it can happen to one of the best bodybuilders in the world, it can happen to any of us. At least we know that while lifting weights can be a minefield, we can always count on cardio training to be safe, right? Not so fast...

Each year, tens of thousands of people sustain injuries from the presumably safe activity known as cardiovascular training. The damage may gradual, and not nearly as spectacular as a quarterback who tears his ACL diving for a Super Bowl winning touchdown or a powerlifter whose knee gives out on the way down with a world-record weight barbell on his back. No, most people who sustain an injury competing cardio do so in the privacy of their own home or gym. It may be sudden, or it may come gradually. Here are some of the more common causes of cardiovascular training-based injuries.

Taking heart rate too high

There is a ceiling on just how fast the heart rate should reach when completing cardio. Too high, and you die - it's that simple. You're a bodybuilder working to lose body fat while maintaining some level of cardiovascular fitness - you're not trying to break any land-speed stationary stepper world records. There is no need to burn up your hard-earned muscle trying to win a race when you're not really moving. Keep your heart rate at 60 to 80%, and take your time!

High impact

Many long-distance runners have fantastic physiques from their regular running routines. However, many of them also suffer from serious long-term injuries due to the jarring impact that running has upon the knees. It's very common for runners in their 30s or 40s to face arthroscopic knee surgery every few years. The cartilage in the knees erodes over time, and running on concrete certainly helps to accelerate this process.

How much is too much?

You are a bodybuilder. You should be doing just enough cardio to maintain healthy lung function, and keep body fat levels relatively low. If you are noticing you are burning muscle mass, then you are completing too much cardio. If you notice you're beginning to look more like a marathon runner than a competitive bodybuilder, then you are completing too much cardio.

Repetitive stress

While you may have an ideal routine laid out in which you watch the same show each evening while completing the same 30 minutes on the treadmill, your body may not feel it is so ideal. You'll quickly adjust to the workload and the exercise will become less effective. Instead, mix it up!

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