Can you gain muscle if you do cardio?

I often get asked if cardio interferes wuth your ability to gain muscle. Most often, I think this question is wishful thinking from those looking for excuses not to do cardio. There is a grain of truth in it though, if you do too much cardio then your body is so busy repairing damage from the intense cardio that it cant rebuild the muscle torn down by lifting weights. How much cardio is too much?

Ive been cycling ~120 miles a day since I started the Tour de Hans last week and I can tell you the 12hrs high intensity cycling it takes me to complete that 120 miles with packs on my travel bike is too much cardio if you want to gain muscle. On the other hand, half an hour of sprinting or running will have no effect whatsover on your ability to gain muscle. 30min of cardio is fine if you want to gain muscle but 12hrs is too much, so where is the cutoff point?

Here is the rule of thumb I use, if you are still exhausted an hour after completing the cardio then it is interfering with your ability to gain muscle. For me personally, this is 2- 3hrs of intense cardio. I could do low intensity cardio like walking 5-7 hours a day without affecting my ability to add muscle.

So, its an hour after I have completed my 120 miles for the day and I am so exhausted that I can barely stay awake and its only 7:30m. It would be foolish to lift weights now as my body does not have the ability to rebuild the muscle if I break it down. Tomorrow is an easy day so I will do pushups and pullups then.

Gute Nackt und schlaf gut!


By the way the photo is of my high energy breakfast today, a JDD (Jelly Delivery Device). I rip out the center of the roll making it like a bowl then scoop in as much jelly as it will hold – yym!

16 thoughts on “Can you gain muscle if you do cardio?”

  1. Yum yum yum!!! It's really refreshing to eat sweet stuffs after you have done a lot of exercises. You deserve it and enjoy it well.

    Thank you for this article. I have been told by many bodybuilders in Japan not to do too much cardio. But nobody told me how much is too much. I need to concentrate on losing fat as for now but I know I cannot run for 6 hours. I just do brisk walking for 2 hours in the morning and some in the evening as a warm up for strength exercise. I enjoy walking so much and I'd rather skip strength part when I'm busy. But anyway, thank you so much. This is very useful!

  2. Hey scooby, i found your blog via youtube. I work out 4-5 times a week (mixture of weights and running) – I thought I was disciplined, but you are on another level!

    When are you finishing the tour? Are you going to rest your body completely for 2 or 3 days?

  3. THANK YOU! I've had this discussion before with people and I too have wondered where is the line for "too much" cardio if you are trying to gain or even maintain.

    Thanks again for some awesome advice Scooby!

  4. Yeah. Gute Nacht, pronounced "Keen Wah". LOL. 100+ videos, a forum and tonnes of advice, and you still go correcting an exhausted traveller's spelling in a foreign language. You must be German!


  5. Even though he's burning many many calories, I think Scooby is using his vacation as a bit of an excuse to eat the things he normally wouldn't even consider. But there's nothing wrong with that, especially as there is no visual evidence that he actually ate anything bad.

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