Cardio In Bodybuilding – The Truth!

July 24, 2022 0 Comments


In this article I am going to be discussing the importance of cardio in bodybuilding and unpacking this topic in detail! This is a very important article and you will gain a lot of insight into how to integrate cardio effectively into your training routine. 

Many bodybuilders are afraid that cardio will hinder their muscle gains and affect their weight training workouts. Therefore it is crucial to tackle this with solid information. 

The Worst Forms Of Cardio 

The worst forms of cardio raise your cortisol levels a lot and this inhibits your progress in your weight training. A good example of this is doing high intensity fasted cardio. Not only are you training in a fasted state but you are also compounding this by training at a high intensity. 

If you do your cardio at a high intensity for long durations then this is also detrimental. You risk raising your cortisol levels too much and making it harder for your body to recover between workouts. If you are on anabolic steroids then you can get away with performing these forms of cardio training and not affecting your progress in your weight training workouts too much. 

Another way of doing cardio which is not good is very intense sessions after lifting weights. If you have just finished an intense 90 minute workout with weights and then proceed to do 40 minutes of really tough cardio, you will eat into your muscle gains and not get optimal results. In addition you will suffer from a lot of extra soreness – when doing cardio after weights, keep it moderate and don’t overdo the duration. 

worst cardio

The Best Forms Of Cardio

Now I am going to talk about the best forms of cardio for bodybuilders. One of the best ways of doing cardio for optimal results in bodybuilding is moderate cardio. This is where the cardio training is not too intense and doesn’t put too much stress on the joints. A great example of this is walking -just walking for 40 minutes most days is a fantastic way to get the benefits of cardio and compliment your weight workouts. You will have the best of both worlds in terms of recovery.

Another great way of doing cardio is to do intense cardio for short durations. This is something I sometimes do – interval training for short durations. So you go hard for 60 secs, then take it easy for a few minutes and do another intense short phase. This could be pushing a sled, stairmaster, treadmill on high incline setting, etc. The aim is to build up lactic acid, this can decrease myostatin and allow you to build more muscle. 

best cardio

Fun Cardio

A big stumbling block which can cause bodybuilders to hate doing cardio is that cardio can often be boring. However there are ways to freshen things up and make your cardio more enjoyable. You could make use of outdoor cardio training – hiking and cycling are really enjoyable activities and great ways to get your cardio in. 

You will also get fresh air and boost your overall mood. When you do your cardio in the gym you can keep things fresh by alternating which machines you use. You could use a treadmill one session, a rowing machine the next and the elliptical after that. By keeping things fresh in this way you also reduce your chances of suffering a repetitive strain injury. 


What Is The Best Time To Perform Cardio?

This is a question that is very commonly asked. Ideally, it is optimal to separate your cardio from your lifting sessions. This is to avoid cortisol levels being spiked and to compartmentalise your training. A fantastic way of doing this is to alternate weights one day and cardio the next. 

This is what I do, however I do also do very moderate and short duration cardio after my weight training workouts. This helps to promote blood flow and improve recovery. Another way that works well is to do your cardio at the start of your weight session. This is better for days when you are working out upper body. 

How Important Is Cardio For Bodybuilders?

I would say that cardio is important for bodybuilders. It is a way to improve their aerobic conditioning and also to lose fat. By losing fat, the muscles will become more defined and vascular. This is crucial for the aesthetic and ripped physique that so many bodybuilders are chasing.

Therefore, moderate cardio will always be the cardio of choice for bodybuilders. Or shorter bouts of more intense cardio. You won’t see a bodybuilder running intensely for one hour for their cardio as it is counterproductive. They will put extra stress on their joints, hinder recovery and also lose some muscle. 

Cardio is just a tool that bodybuilders use to manipulate their physiques to look better. It is also important for heart health. When you have lots of muscle, the heart does have to work harder to pump blood to all your muscles – having a strong and healthy heart is of paramount importance. 


To conclude, in this article I have talked about cardio in bodybuilding and unpacked everything you need to know surrounding this topic. You now have all the information you need to integrate cardio into your routine and reap the benefits. 

You will be able to program in cardio without raising your cortisol levels too much and hindering your recovery and muscle gains. Getting the benefits of regular cardio without losing muscle is the key, as well as losing fat and getting more muscle definition. 

If you have any questions about anything I have written in this article please leave a comment below. I would love to know what forms of cardio you are doing and how you are integrating them into your training routine. How are you keeping your cardio workouts fun and varied? 

Interacting with my readers is very important to me, after all I create content specifically to help you to reach your fitness goals and develop your physique to the next level. 

As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

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