Building muscle mass requires a combination of strength training and cardiovascular exercises.
Cardio exercises such as running or cycling are great for burning fat and improving overall fitness, but they don’t always build muscle. Strength training builds muscle mass and helps prevent injuries.
Cardiovascular exercises such as running or biking are examples of good cardio training, but are they the best exercises for bodybuilding?
This guide will examine cardio exercises to include into your bodybuilding along with if there are any benefits to it.
Is Cardio Good For Bodybuilding?
Cardio is important for everyone, not just those who want to build muscle. It can help you burn fat, improve endurance, reduce stress levels, increase energy, and boost metabolism.
If you have been looking at getting in shape, then you should definitely be doing some form of cardio exercise.
There are many types of cardio that you could do, including:
- Elliptical machines
- Stair climbing
The best cardio exercise for bodybuilders though is tricky. Cardio exercises may lead to a loss of muscle mass (there is conflicting evidence to this) or muscle damage – so your primary focus will be on strength training.
Having said that, incorporating light cardio will improve your overall health.
Arguably, the best cardio exercise for bodybuilders is probably cycling. It is not as intense on the muscles as running or treadmill workouts are, and can be as light as you set it to.
It's also a type of training that you can lift weights with at the same time.
Health Benefits Of Light Cycling
Light cycling has several health benefits. The most obvious is that it burns calories without putting much strain on your joints. You can ride for an hour or two every day without causing any problems. Read this article on how many calories cycling burns to understand how it helps you stay fit and get in shape.
It improves your heart rate and blood pressure, which means you'll feel more energetic throughout the day. This makes you less likely to get ill and increases your stamina.
It reduces stress by helping you relax after a hard workout, and it can help lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
You can even use this kind of exercise to lose weight. Studies show that people who cycle regularly tend to weigh less than their sedentary peers.
As a bodybuilder, you will likely not want to lose too much weight though, but it will depend on your starting point and how much fat you have.
How To Build Muscle
Bodybuilders will likely be focusing on their strength training and diet. They will need to make sure they eat enough protein and carbohydrates to fuel their workouts.
However, they will also need to pay attention to what they are eating.
They will need to ensure they consume plenty of healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. These will help them stay lean and keep their muscles from breaking down during periods of heavy lifting.
They will also need to watch out for excess sugar intake. Excessive amounts of carbs can cause insulin spikes, which can hinder muscle growth.
In addition to these foods, bodybuilders will need to make sure that they are consuming adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. This includes iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, B12, and potassium.
The best exercises and training for bodybuilders include:
- Bench Presses
- Cable Pull Downs
- Overhead Dumbbell Raises
- Tricep Extensions
- Leg Curls
By focusing on these types of exercises, you should see bodybuilding results. You should be including some level of cardio fitness into your workouts though, but it's important that you do not do too much cardio fitness when you're bodybuilding. Check out our guide to the best workout routine for bodybuilding here to help you get started.
Effects Of Cardio Training
When you incorporate cardio into your routine, you will burn off some of your stored glycogen (carbohydrate) in your liver. Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrate found in our bodies.
When we perform aerobic activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, etc., we break down stored glycogen and use it up. We then replenish our stores by consuming food rich in carbohydrates.
This process takes about 24 hours. So if you start working out right after breakfast, you will begin burning through your stored glycogen at around noon.
If you work out later in the afternoon, you may only have burned through half of your stored glycogen before dinner. In either case, you will have depleted your glycogen reserves.
The problem with cardio training for bodybuilders is that by using oxygen, you increase the amount of calories you burn per hour. That means you will burn more calories while performing cardio than you would without it.
Bodybuilders aim to try and up their calorie intake – they'd rather not be in a deficit!
Bodybuilding And Calories
So, if you are trying to build muscle mass, you will need to focus on increasing your caloric intake. It does not matter whether you are doing cardio or resistance training.
The key is to make sure you are getting enough calories to support your workout regimen.
If you are currently following a low-carb diet, you will want to consider adding back in some higher carb foods to your daily menu.
Carbohydrates provide energy for your body so that you can continue exercising. Also, carbohydrates will help prevent muscle loss due to lack of protein consumption.
A Good Workout Plan For Bodybuilders
A good exercise plan to follow if you're building muscle is one that incorporates both strength training and cardiovascular training. Taking pre-workout for cardio can also be beneficial as it will help you increase your endurance throughout the exercises.
A typical workout plan might look something like this:
- Monday: Chest/Back/Biceps/Shoulders
- Tuesday: Legs/Abs/Calves
- Wednesday: Shoulders/Arms/Forearms
- Thursday: Back/Chest/Hips/Quads
- Friday: Abs/Core
- Saturday: Rest
- Sunday: Legs/Abs/Hands/Thighs
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, there are many ways to achieve success in bodybuilding. However, all methods require dedication, hard work and a mixture of predominantly strength training, with a complement of cardio.
To get started, you'll need to find a program that works for you. Try to stick with it for at least six months. Then, once you've built up a solid base of muscle, you can move on to other programs.
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