We don’t just go to the gym to feel healthier, that comes from the kitchen. We go to the gym to get bigger!
Of course, that doesn’t mean just tossing plates onto a barbell and power-housing through a workout. OUr goal is to think about our fitness-related health and conditioning. Our cardiovascular health in particular is extremely important.
So we hop on a treadmill every once and a while too, right?
What some of us don’t realize is that cardio training may actually be stopping us from seeing the muscle building or maintaining results that we desire.
How Can Cardio Interfere with Muscle Building?
There is no direct relation between cardio and muscle loss unless the exerciser creates the relationship. What this means is that it is perfectly fine to perform cardio exercises while trying to build muscle, but only if it is done right.
In short, timing is everything.
So when does one usually do cardio?
There is probably no dedicated day for just cardio – okay, many of us do but it’s not as common when bulking!
What’s left? Squeezing cardio in on a weight training day, right?
Cardio before Weight Training
Doing cardio before a weight training session is simply minimizing the blow. While the cardio has a lesser negative effect on muscle-building goals, it’s still hindering results and here’s why:
Cardio is a very demanding form of exercise. It drains endurance, stamina, and even strength. It wears at the muscles over time. The higher the intensity, the longer the duration, the more burnt out one will end up.
This means that weight-lifting movements will be weakened. As a result, the muscle building progress will be limited.
If in a cutting cycle, one may even end up experiencing a muscle mass loss as a result of what may turn out to be overtraining within a short time frame.
Cardio after Weight Training
If cardio is done after a weight training session, it’s even worse. Essentially, weight training efforts will come to a standstill – sure, minimal results will still come, but definitely not anything close to what is desirable, especially when it comes to building mass.
It makes sense too – perform weight lifting exercises, tear down the muscles and leave them in need of repair. But then hop on a treadmill and spend 30 minutes jogging, further degrading the muscles and not giving them the refueling they need.
Muscles would grow much better with spending that time consuming a protein shake. Muscles need to get help with repairing, preferably 10 to 15 minutes after your workout at the latest. Most people have cool down exercises after the major movements, which provide the biggest tearing of the muscles – this is why some even use an intra-workout drink.
How to Properly Include Cardio in Your Training
Cardio offers more benefits than one can even begin to imagine. It should still be done whether one is bulking, cutting, or maintaining. However, it has to be done with the appropriate timing.
This means that cardio should not be performed before or after a lifting workout. It is okay to warm up by walking or doing a light jog on the treadmill for no more than 10 minutes – especially walking to warm up for a legs workout. However, it should be kept at nothing more than that and no cool down is necessary!
So when should cardio be done?
It’s pretty easy. Either make a day for it or find a different time of day on lifting days to do it.
If making a day just for cardio, it’s ok to complete an ab routine that day as well. It’s often hard to find a place for an abs workout on your training days as it’s focused on putting all energy into heavy lifts. This is a perfect solution and it is one that many lifters follow religiously.
If cardio needs to be done on the same day then perform it in the morning and lift at night or vice versa. An early morning run is a great way to wake up the body and mind. However, one can use a bit of trial and error to simply see which leaves the most energy for the day and the most strength for the evening workout.
Cardio can still be done after a workout, particularly while cutting, without interfering with muscle maintenance. However, this is only worth attempting if nutrition is spot on and preferably if an intra-workout drink is utilized. Furthermore, one should consume a protein shake right after finishing weight lifting exercises. After a few minute wait, the cardio workout can be started.
Cardio is not the enemy. It’s extremely beneficial towards overall physical health and it contributes towards a better physique. Keep timing in mind and cardio will provide more good than harm!