Cardio & Bodybuilding...
Cardio and bodybuilding are almost two separate worlds.
Those that perform a lot of cardio tend to avoid weights, meanwhile those who spend their time in the weights room stay away from the treadmill and the elliptical.
This is a big mistake.
In order to burn fat and get shredded this can be done ENTIRELY via diet. You don't have to step on that treadmill or sprint those stairs once, and this is exactly what I used to do. However, once I implemented a cardio routine to compliment my lifting I noticed a handful of other benefits which I could not just get by reducing my calories.
That's right, cardio and bodybuilding are mutually beneficial when performed correctly, and here's why...
Benefits Of Cardio For Bodybuilding
Cardio Allows You To Keep Your Caloric Intake Higher
When it comes time to shred down into single digit body fat, or reducing body fat in general the ONLY concrete, proven method to do so is to place your body into a caloric deficit (consume fewer calories than your body requires to maintain its current weight on a 24 hour basis). The longer your cutting phase the more calories you're going to have to reduce in order to continue to progress with your fat loss...
This is where cardio comes to the rescue.
Bodybuilders can continue to eat a higher calorie diet and instead of starving themselves when it comes to week 5 of their 8 week cutting regime cardio can be implemented to offset the additional calories they're eating.
My TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) is 3,000 calories. This is how much I need to maintain my current weight.
In order to lose fat at a consistent, sustainable rate we drop 500 calories off of my TDEE.
Instead of starving myself with 2500 calories per day I can eat 3,000 calories per day while performing 500 calories worth of cardio!
It's not unheard of to burn upwards of 800 calories per hour of conventional cardio.
Cardio Aids With Recovery
Although often forgotten, cardio is a fantastic form of active recovery.
The oxygen rich blood pumped around your body during a moderately intense cardio workout assists in repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue that was hit hard during your weights session. I personally find that cardio and keeping moving is a fantastic means of reducing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). I purposely schedule a cardio workout the evening after my heavy leg workouts to ensure I maintain mobility and reduce DOMs.
This is quite often the opposite of what gym-goers do - as they attempt to avoid moving as much as possible once the dreaded leg DOMS set in. As a result of this muscular soreness is increased and recover y time is no where near as quick.
Cardio Is Fantastic For Your Hormones
Whether you're an avid cardio fanatic or not I'm sure you've heard the term 'runner's high' before.
The runners high is the release of feel good hormones as you push your body to its limits, lifting weights in the gym can't replicate this same hormone profile. cardio. Although this isn't a particularly bodybuilder unique benefit it's definitely worthy of a mention as it can have fantastic results on other areas of your life.
Cardio Offers A Change of Scenery
Cardio offer a refreshing change of scenery which can boost motivation and morale after being cooped up in a gym. The majority of people are deficient in vitamin D, and unless you're supplementing regularly I recommend getting outdoors and hitting some cardio. Vitamin D has been linked to testosterone levels, happiness and increased performance.
Running not your thing? Give an uncventional functional style of cardio outside a try! Ball slams,. agility ladder drills and car pushes are all fantastic challenging exercises that'll allow you to reap the full benefits of cardio for bodybuilders.
Cardio Increases Endurance & Conditioning
Intense cardio workouts will increase the endurance and conditioning of a bodybuilder.
Mass building workouts focus on heavy low repetition sets with extended rest periods to allow for maximal recovery between sets - cardio when performed correctly is quite the opposite.
Cardio will force you to adapt and endure, resulting in not only an increase in your mental toughness but also the ability to endure time under tension, stress on your body and an elevated heart rate for an extended period of time.
Cardio Improves Overall Heart Health
The heart, just like any other muscle in your body requires exercise to be healthy and mobile. Getting your heart rate up by performing cardio is the best way to improve overall cardiovascular health.
Bodybuilding and fitness in general is a marathon, not a sprint so instead of neglecting the crucial details now and paying the price later your results and longevity will be far superior with a healthy body.
What's The Best Form Of Cardio For Bodybuilding?
Fitness magazines preach 'the ultimate cardio exercise' and '1 crazy move for rapid fat loss' however this is all rubbish. There's not one particular form of cardio that excels beyond all others, when choosing the best form of cardio there's a couple of considerations that need to be taken into account, including...
Impact Of The Exercise
Every cardio exercise can be classed as either a low impact or a high impact exercise, when we're talking about impact we're discussing how hard the exercise is on your body (joints specifically). Stair sprints and plyometric circuits that include exercises such as box jumps, excessive amounts of skipping etc. are high impact. High impact cardio is more taxing on your body and when performed too often can decrease strength and require longer recovery times.
Low impact cardio, on the other hand is the opposite. Exercises that are low impact include cycling, swimming, overhead ball slams and battle rope exercises. Low impact cardio does not place anywhere near the amount of stress or strain on your body as high impact cardio does, and can therefore be performed safer at a higher volume without worry of the injuries associated with high impact cardio.
Engagement Of The Exercise
With a plethora of cardio exercises out there I recommend picking one that you enjoy.
Standing on a treadmill staring at a blank wall in the gym is not exactly my idea of a good time! If you're not enjoying yourself you won't be able to commit and see through your cardio regime as it becomes nothing but a chore.
When I perform my cardio I always look to get outside the gym... take a battle rope to the park, invest in a slam ball, give car pushes a try.
The unconventional forms of cardio are often the best in terms of low impact and also offer the most engagement and enjoyment while also providing cognitive benefits too! (such as the focus, coordination and brain development acquired from advanced agility ladder drills).