When it comes to cardio for bodybuilding, most people tend to simply avoid it. We all know that bodybuilders are incredible, almost-super humans, with immense amounts of muscles who are extremely strong. However, it is not uncommon to hear of a bodybuilder who basically never does cardio. Some are “afraid” of cardio, and that’s because they worry that cardio exercises are going to make them lose muscle mass, instead of fat. That’s why many bodybuilders think that cardio will undo months of their hard work.
So, it is not uncommon to hear of a bodybuilder who never does any cardio. Still, cardio for bodybuilding remains an important training part. But due to all these factors, a lot of people are confused about what cardio for bodybuilding they should implement. They know that cardio for bodybuilding is important, yet, they are afraid of losing muscle. That’s why, many are searching for the best cardio for bodybuilding.
- In the end, there’s one sure thing: you need to integrate cardio for bodybuilding into your training regime, regardless if you’re new in the world of bodybuilding or preparing for a competition. Do not make the mistake of underestimating the importance of cardio.
When you do it right, bodybuilding cardio training is going to help you burn that extra body fat, while still helping maintain your muscle strength and development. Not to mention that it can help with muscle mobility, keep your cardiovascular system healthy, and overall support your bodybuilding goals.
Cardio For Bodybuilding
Endurance training is also popular as cardiovascular exercise, or simply cardio. It is extremely effective at improving your heart’s ability to pump blood and increase the amount of oxygen that is carried around your cells. Your heart is also a muscle, and cardio is the way you train it best. A bodybuilding cardio workout is essential because it helps you burn more calories. This will induce fat loss, or at least decrease fat gain during bulking periods. And that’s what bodybuilding is all about – reducing as much body fat while preserving as much muscle mass as possible.
So, cardio for bodybuilding is very important. But why do many bodybuilders are afraid of it and choose to avoid it altogether?
Well, just like strength training, there’s a science to cardio and increasing its results. Moreover, just like strength training, there are risks. The risks of strength training involve injuries, overtraining, and others. However, the risk of cardio involves muscle loss. Yes, that’s not a myth as cardiovascular exercises MAY make you lose muscle. HOWEVER, cardio will lead to muscle loss when done in excess. Similar to strength training that can lead to muscle loss when done in excess. So, in order to avoid muscular loss from cardio for bodybuilding, you need to know how to do it right and how to increase its results.
Why Cardio Burns Muscle?
When you’re doing cardiovascular exercises (endurance training) correctly, your body is going to use its fat stores in order to provide the body with its energy demands to perform the cardio training. However, over exercising with cardio or doing it improperly will shift your body into taking into energy demands from muscles rather than fat. Yet, the risks of burning muscle instead of fat during cardio are extremely low as long as your body is well fed (enough proteins, fats, and carbs), and when you’re doing cardio correctly. Moreover, strength training helps put your body into an anabolic state. This means that strength training during cardio will reduce the chances of losing muscles even more.
So, when you strength train, eat right, and perform correct cardio for bodybuilding – you ensure your body uses fat for energy demands, not your hard-earned muscle mass.
The amount of body fat that you are going to lose is directly related to the number of fat burning elements that you focus on. It is nearly impossible to get ripped without adding a large amount of muscle mass. So, bodybuilders usually follow on and off season diets and training plans to add muscle mass. But adding muscle mass means you need to eat in a calorie surplus. This calorie surplus, however, can add fat too. How do we burn that excess fat? With the best cardio for bodybuilding!
Off Season vs On Season
During off season or bulking cycles, the cardio for bodybuilding should be limited. That’s because you need to ensure that all the calories and energy go into building new muscle mass. So, you should limit the cardio to about just one session a week.
Nonetheless, during on season or cutting cycles, people tend to lose weight, by burning fat and maintaining their current muscle mass. So, they increase the number of up to four cardio sessions per week. This way, they could melt away any stored body fat that occurred during off season (bulking cycles).
What’s The Best Cardio For Bodybuilding?
As I have already mentioned, bodybuilders are mainly using cardio exercises in order to increase their caloric expenditure. While it comes with health benefits too (as said, helps maintain muscle mobility and most importantly – improves your cardiovascular health), calorie expenditure and fat burning are the main reasons why bodybuilders implement cardio in their regimens. You could mix and match two kinds of bodybuilding cardio workouts into your weekly schedule. Or you could go for just one, depending on what exactly you’re searching for.
The two different ones include:
- Low moderate intensity
- High intensity/ HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
Low moderate intensity cardio for bodybuilding
Those bodybuilders who are searching for ways to burn calories while making sure they will not damage their recovery usually opt for low-intensity cardio. It can go pre or post-weight training, but most prefer the post-workout cardio to keep their full energy, endurance, and stamina for lifting weights.
The low-moderate cardio for bodybuilding, as its name suggests, is much less strenuous on the body than high-intensity cardio or HIIT. You can add them on days that you are not weight training. Or you could add them after (or even before) your weight training. That’s mostly up to your preference. The only recommendation is to switch from cardio before weight training in case it affects your performance, so do it post-workout or on non-workout days.
High-intensity cardio for bodybuilding
I do not recommend doing high-intensity cardio or HIIT sessions alongside weight training workouts. They are usually implemented on nonworkout days. Or if done on the same day, then as two different workouts. Pre-weight training is not recommended at all, because such high-intensity cardio sessions would surely decrease your performance. Post-training would cause fatigue and open you up to injury. If you can still perform the cardio session, but usually, after strenuous strength training, you just can’t. So, only do them on nonworkout days or, if you do them the same day as strength training, then as a different workout (after 6-8 hours) post strength training, if you still can.
The high-intensity cardio for bodybuilding, however, is highly beneficial too. It puts stress on both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. The anaerobic energy system is the one that you stress during weight training (lifting weights). That’s why you need to do weight training along with a bodybuilding cardio workout.
In such situations, you are going to put way too much stress on the anaerobic system, and this will likely damage your recovery. That’s one way to burn muscle mass and risk injury – something you definitely wouldn’t love.
High-intensity cardio types…
There are two types of high-intensity cardio. Continuous high-intensity cardio for bodybuilding, such as using a treadmill or elliptical machine at high speed for a longer duration (more than 5 minutes). There’s also high-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio which is popular. It involves alternating periods of exercise and rest (lower level of work). An example would be: running 100 meters (sprinting) at maximum speed, then walking back to the start, (maybe resting for a maximum of one minute) and repeating.
Cardio For Bodybuilding Routines
As a bodybuilder, weight training is the most important thing you should focus on. However, you shouldn’t forget about cardiovascular exercises either. Moreover, you should avoid overdoing cardio, similar to how you need to avoid overdoing weight training. This will risk injury or impact your recovery.
So, when you try to gain muscle or lose fat, you need to add cardio. But you should add the necessary amount and type, tailored to your requirements. The exact amount and type varies, depending on your goal, fitness level, and recovery time.
For example, as you improve your fitness level, gain more lean muscle, and burn more fat, you are likely to need to increase the duration and/or intensity of your cardio.
One popular bodybuilding cardio routine is 45-75 minutes of weight training 3-4 times a week, with 20-30 minutes of low intensity cardio post-workout. Workout days are spread throughout the week. Another popular way is 45-75 minutes of strength training 4 days a week (spread days throughout the week), with one day high intensity cardio of up to one hour, and another day HIIT, of up to one hour, on the non workout days, full rest on sundays. Professionals may combine these two plans. Follow the second plan, but add 10-30 minutes of low intensity cardio post-workouts.
What You Need to Know About Cardio For Bodybuilding
Best Time To Do A Bodybuilding Cardio Workout
The most effective time to perform cardio is the first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. That’s because your body is going to get into burning your fat stores for energy, instead of going to burn the carbs first that you get from foods, and then moving onto fat. Don’t worry, cardio can be just as effective in the late afternoon if you are not a morning person, just make sure you follow a proper diet.
Best Intensity For A Bodybuilding Cardio Workout
The intensity of cardio is measured by the percentage of your max heart rate that you use when performing a cardio exercise. In order to effectively burn fat, you want to be around 65% of your maximum heart rate. With a lower percentage, you may not reap the benefits. With a higher percentage, your body switches to the anaerobic type of exercise. The maximum heart rate is different from person to person. There are various ways to find it out. A simple (but not most accurate) way to find your MHR is by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying it by 0.65.
How Long Should Cardio For Bodybuilders Last?
Well, it greatly depends. If you are doing cardio to train for a marathon – the answer will be very different from those who simply want to get optimal results. However, if you’re simply using cardio in order to increase oxygen flow to your muscles and to burn fat (most of us search specifically for this goal), then you only need to perform cardio 3-4 times a week (on non resistance training days). This will provide optimal results. You may start with 5 minutes. Then you could increase the length of your cardio session by 5 minutes every 1-2 weeks until you reach a total of 30-40 minutes per cardio session.
Do Bodybuilders Need To Warm Up/Cool Down?
Yes, bodybuilders do need to warm up and cool down. Everyone needs it. Rushing in or out of a cardio session (even in strength training exercise) is going to put everyone at risk of unnecessary stress on your heart, muscles, tissues, and joints. You need to stretch before you walk, walk before you jog, and jog before you run. Never underestimate the importance of warming up, even if talking about strength training.
Increase the pace over a 3-5 minute period until you are reaching your ideal heart rate. When you start slowly, you are way more likely to avoid injuries. Then, you should cool down by walking for 3-5 minutes until your heart rate is back to normal at the end of your workout. Again, by not cooling down properly, you risk stressing your heart too much, leading to various issues!
Do Bodybuilders Need Cardio If They Follow A Nutrition Plan?
Yes. Regardless of how strict or nutrition-dense your diet is, you are never going to achieve your maximum definition without cardio. While you can still build a decent physique with strength training and a strict diet, without cardio, you are going to get maximum results with cardio. Nevertheless, you should know that the opposite is true too. Regardless of how much cardio you do, you are never going to reach your maximum definition without a very strict and wise diet.
Please note that nutrition during cutting is just as crucial as during bulking up. In order to burn fat, you are going to need to burn more calories than you consume. In order to work out the number of calories that you need to maintain a day, you are going to need a calorie calculator, indicating your stats. You can use online calorie calculators, using your stats. That will provide the amount of calories your body needs to maintain your current weight.
When cutting, you need to drop calories by about 500 calories per day, or 10-20% of the amount you need to maintain. When bulking, you need to increase by pretty much the same amount. Remember to adjust calories every 10-14 days as you bulk or cut, because this number could change as you improve.
Should I Take Supplements When Dieting and Doing Cardio For Bodybuilding?
While they are not necessary as long as you have a proper lifestyle (rest, workout, diet, and of course nutrition), we are big believers that there are numerous things that can help you maintain your body in peak condition, while you achieve your goals, be it cutting or bulking. Optimal nutrition and hard work in the gym with both cardio for bodybuilding and strength training are vital to reach success as a bodybuilder. Nothing can be used as an alternative. However, adding various supplements could greatly help.
For example, you could add products that could support your immune system and protect you from injury, while also protecting your organs from stress, supporting your health and gain. Moreover, there are protein powders, creatine, multivitamins, minerals, and numerous other sports supplements that can help.
- However, whether you’re a pro bodybuilder preparing to compete, or you only want to boost your strength and physical fitness, then there’s barely anything more helpful than anabolic steroids. Some of the most popular ones are Anavar and Dianabol which will greatly help you achieve your goals.
While they may offer side effects, when you buy the best quality steroids (you can do it from Supps-For-Life.to), they will greatly support your bodybuilding goals without causing nasty side effects, as long as you use them right. The Supps For Life team can help you with an individual cycle plan too. They can greatly help boost your recovery, cardio endurance, protein synthesis, strength levels, and so much more – all to help you smash your goals the best possible way, extremely fast.