Building Muscle Mass And Cardio Training: Why Long Distance Runners Struggle To Maintain Size And Strength

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How can I combine marathon running with weight loss and muscle gain? 

This question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by Tim Ernst, Fitness Expert and Founder of TurnAroundFitness.com

The answer is simply - you can’t. Marathon running is horrible for weight loss and building muscle.

First let’s talk about running. What running does is make you more efficient at using fat as an energy source. On the surface this sounds fantastic, but it’s not. Being efficient at using fat means you start to use fat at a slower rate and “better” to fuel activity. To be more efficient at using fat as an energy source means to burn less of it, not more of it. You’re getting more out of less.

If you’re a hunter-gatherer, and your food is scarce, that’s great. If you’re an ambitious action-taker looking to strip fat, that’s bad. 
 
With all that said, there is a type of cardio training - 8-minutes exercises per day to be exact - that can help you avoid these downsides of traditional cardio and also can add serious muscle to your frame.
 
The Problem With Cardio and Running: 

As you become more and more efficient at storing body fat then your only option is to go longer and harder, which then in turn only enhances the effect of burning less and less fat as you get better conditioned! It’s a deadly snowball.

Isn’t this the exact opposite of why you introduced cardio in the first place? Eventually, you have to go longer to get the same effect and results as you did before, which is the law of diminishing returns and becomes counter productive. This sets up a very bad situation for your body, sex-drive, and lifestyle.

Why in the world would you participate in an activity where, after a while, you need to do more of it to get the same previous results? Especially when there are easier, faster and smarter options such as this brand-new approach I created that is making huge waves in the industry right now:

In short, incorrect cardio reduces your calorie-burning machinery. It gives you a smaller and more efficient engine.

Building Muscle

Building muscle requires calories and resistance. If you are running a lot like a marathon runner, you’ll tap into muscle and burn calories. Essentially there are three mechanisms that are necessary for muscle growth.

A 2010 paper published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research by Brad Schoenfeld identified these  three mechanisms of rapid muscle growth as:

  1. Mechanical Tension
  2. Metabolic Stress
  3. Muscle Damage

Most guys who do not know how to optimize all three of these factors (mechanical tension, metabolic stress, and muscle damage) to muscle growth, end up spinning their wheels and become frustrated as to why they look the same month after month, year after year.

The fact is, muscle needs stimulation to grow. If you don’t expose your muscle to stress, there’s no driving force for muscle to grow. Another important aspect to growing muscle is proper muscle building nutrition. If you are not sure on what kind of foods to eat, you can get  10 free muscle building recipes here

The three proven methods above reveal exactly how you can increase your muscle size and strength and incinerate fat for your best body ever—while you avoid plateaus caused by inefficient and boring workouts that have already failed you in the past.

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