Cardiovascular training is one of the most discussed topics among bodybuilders & fitness enthusiasts. The main goal of bodybuilders is muscle mass, shape & definition. Bodybuilding & figure-fit often require pretty much the same cardio activities; it’s the duration that differs.
Bodybuilding is more about flexing the hard-earned muscles, showcasing the time and energy spent in the gym, outside it. The main aim of the bodybuilder is to burn as many calories while keeping the resting metabolic high without burning the lean muscle mass.
Cardiovascular training is the most effective way of improving your heart’s ability to pump blood & increasing oxygen supply to your body cells. Bodybuilding training is about losing excess fat, bringing the muscle to the surface, and bulking them. A fit person has a higher tendency of losing fat than an unfit person.
Cardiovascular training is done by bodybuilders mainly for increasing their caloric expenditure for burning excess fat. But the thing with this is they have to burn while maintaining their muscular mass. Fear of reduced muscle mass mostly confuses bodybuilders among which type of cardio training they should perform and for how long. Many people generalize cardio, but there are different ways of doing it depending upon the body type and ultimate goal.
In this article we will address the cardio strategy bodybuilders should follow for achieving their goals in the best manner.
Importance of Cardiovascular Conditioning for BodyBuilding
Building a body is a complex sport. There are a lot of myths about this art. Many people consider it just lifting heavyweights. Which isn’t entirely true. Cardiovascular training helps bodybuilders in the following two ways.
- Weight Management: Main goal for the bodybuilder is to have the lowest body fat level while maintaining the desired muscle mass. Cardiovascular training done for a prolonged time enables you to maintain muscle mass better as you begin to cut the calories in the learning phase. Most of the bodybuilders when trying to lose fat end up losing muscle as well.
- Endurance: Cardiovascular training is the most effective way of building endurance and stamina. In case you take part in a professional competition you are asked to maintain certain poses or perform certain activities, the better your aerobic system is the better you will be able to do that. In simple words, this training adds strength and power to your gains.
It’s nearly impossible to have a ripped & lean body with substantial muscular mass, bodybuilders usually follow the on-off-season training plans. In the off-season, their cardio training should be limited to ensuring all the calories consumed are used for building muscles. However, in the on-season, their cardio workouts should be performed up to 4 times a week after getting in your bodybuilding clothes. Following are the factors that should be considered while doing cardio training for bodybuilding.
- Timing – Time matters the most. The most effective time for performing the cardio is right after waking up, with an empty stomach. Because the body taps into the fat reservoirs for energy, rather than burning carbs it burns fat. Depending on your schedule you can also adjust it in the afternoon following a proper diet.
- Intensity – Next thing is training, cardio-intensity can be defined by the maximized percentage of the heart rate while performing the particular activity. For burning fat, you must hit around 65% of your heart rate. It’s an ideal zone for burning fat. For determining the upper limit of your heart rate, then subtract your total age from figure 220 & multiply the number by 0.65. The answer will be the ideal number of beats per minute for maximizing the benefits of fat burning.
- Duration – Although cardio is equally important for a bodybuilder, you don’t have to do it like a marathon runner. It’s done by the bodybuilders mainly for increasing oxygen supply to the muscles for burning excess body fat. However, it shouldn’t be performed more than 3-4 times a week. Consider increasing the length of the cardio up to five minutes every week till it stretches to 30-35 minutes.
- Warm-Up and Cool-Down – Do not directly rush into the cardio session, doing so will put unnecessary strain on your cardio muscles, tissue & joints. Make sure you stretch appropriately before doing any intense cardio activity. Make sure you go slowly on it, doing so will help in preventing injuries. End your session with a 3-5 minute cool-down session. It helps in getting the best of your workout and regulates your heart health.
- Nutrition – Physical activity is just one component of reaching your fitness goal, the other one is “diet”. Diet and workout go hand-in-hand. Regardless of the fact how good your training is you won’t be able to reach the full potential of a proper diet and vice versa. It’s important to look after what you eat during your cut-up and bulk-up. For figuring out the daily caloric requirement, multiply the body weight by 15 to 17 based on your activity level. It tells how many calories you need for maintaining muscle mass. Make sure you make protein a major component of your diet.
Cardiovascular Training For Bodybuilders:
Low to Moderate Intensity Cardio workouts on your Weight Training Days:
As we have mentioned earlier, bodybuilders perform cardio mainly for increasing their caloric expenditure. Low-intensity cardio training allows you to burn more calories without hampering recovery. It’s not strenuous on your body compared to high-intensity cardio or high-intensity interval training.
Doing a complete cardio workout on your weight training days would decrease the performance while lifting weights post-weight training will be extremely fatiguing. For keeping your body healthy and injury-free, consider keeping the cardio workouts moderate. Whether you do it before or after your weight training it’s a matter of your personal preference. Your main goal should be hitting the weight room hard.
High-Intensity-Interval Training On your Non-Weight Training Days:
High-intensity cardio training stresses both of the energy systems in your body- aerobic & anaerobic. During your weight training, anaerobic energy is stressed. Doing both of them on the same day can hamper your recovery. We would recommend not doing them on the same days.
Running at the pace of 6 mph burns more calories compared to running at the pace of 3 mph, but both of the activities should be balanced for optimized recovery.
Balancing these Activities For optimizing Recovery:
High-intensity cardio is of two main types.
- Interval Training
- Continuous High-Intensity
It’s high-intensity training, like running at a very high speed on a treadmill for a longer duration.
2) Interval Cardio:
Interval cardio training incorporates alternating work & rest periods. Like running the 100-meter sprint and walking back, resting, & repeating. It’s closer to moderate-intensity cardio.
Best Cardio workouts For Bodybuilders
After getting in your bodybuilding clothes perform the following activities for getting the best results.
Sprinting is an amazing workout that improves your chances of hypertrophy. It is considered the biggest gem of the cardio workouts. Sprinting improves your muscle growth. The workout involves the multi-joint movement which stimulates muscle activation while improving leg development.
It’s an underrated cardiovascular activity, many bodybuilders would never consider doing this. Jogging on the treadmill walking can be a great cardio exercise, but cycling has more benefits than running.
- Rowing Machine
The above two cardio workouts work very well for your lower body but what about the upper? A rowing machine is an amazing tool for building upper body definition. It works on your back & core strengths and improves mobility