Running is one of the cornerstones of fitness, but are you sure you’re doing it correctly?
It seems like something almost too obvious to point out, but it’s true. Even though everybody runs, there are easy ways to maximize your cardio and make sure your burning the maximum amount of calories and giving your muscles the best chance to develop. Sometimes we brush off the simple things as not needing any explanation.
The truth is, it’s important for any bodybuilder or person who’s serious about fitness to understand the basic mechanics of exercise. There are lots of ways you can improve even the most basic of exercises because the way we generally move isn’t always geared to burn the most calories. Let’s dive in.
Benefits of Cardio
Many people will equate cardio to taking away gains, but that truly is not the case. It actually can help achieve your goals more so than you think. For someone who is a bodybuilder, it makes the on-season a whole lot easier when you do not put on excess fat in the off-season. Also, when you are cutting, the cardio is a big player in getting rid of that fat to get you stage ready.
People looking to get absolutely shredded, but refuse to utilize cardio are essentially handicapping themselves and ensuring that they never get the defined and aesthetic form that they constantly seek. Cardio burns away excess fat and jump starts your metabolism. If you have the right diet plan it won’t affect your muscle gains at all.
Besides keeping you from getting overly fat, what else does cardio do for you? Well for starters, the obvious answer would be cardiovascular benefits (hence the name “cardio”). You should always want your heart to be as healthy as it can be. Taking care of your ticker is something that should always be a priority, so you know, it keeps ticking properly.
Lowering blood pressure and strengthening the immune system are some more benefits brought to you through cardio workouts. Whether you are bodybuilding or just trying to stay in shape through exercising, you have to remember to take care of everything. Getting big, strong, and shredded are all great, but do not forget about all of the other factors that quite literally keep you waking up every day.
Cardio Gone Wrong
As stated before, cardio brings numerous benefits to people who utilize it on the daily. However, people still tend to view it as something that is like a punishment, and this can result in skipping it, or performing lackluster cardio exercises. When your cardio is not optimal, you will not see the results you so desire. So, what exactly can you do? Don’t worry, we have some tips for you.
Here are five easy tips that will help you improve the quality of your cardio workouts.
1. Listening to music can help you run faster.
Processing auditory input distracts our brain from the “burn” we associate with gaining muscle mass. If you want to maximize your endurance, try listening to music on a jog or watching your favorite TV show while you’re on the treadmill. You will be shocked at how much longer and harder you can run for when you’re paying attention to something you’re listening to.
2. Training variety is more important that pushing yourself
One massive blowout cardio session is not going to give you the huge gains of a bodybuilder. Increasing the intensity of your workouts is what helps you gain mass, and in the case of cardio, that means training variety is key. That means running on the treadmill, running uphill at the park, running on a mild hike, and running flat laps around a track. The variety in terrains, textures, and inclines will prevent your leg muscles from “getting used” to your workouts and you will increase muscle mass every time.
3. Cardio is most effective on an empty stomach.
Fasted cardio is the simpler term here, and this may seem like an obvious one, but you would be surprised at how many people ignore this. You burn the most fat and allow your body to gain the most muscle when you work out on an empty stomach. So, if you’re looking to make serious gains, make sure to hit the gym before breakfast, not after.
4. You have to stretch before cardio. Every time.
The elasticity of your muscles makes a huge difference in your workout. Your chances of injury are much higher if you don’t stretch. Injuries aside, if you don’t stretch before cardio you are putting yourself at a huge disadvantage because your muscles will not be able to fully extend. Your ability to really push yourself to make gains will be limited, not to mention you’ll be a lot more sore afterwards.
5. Always put cardio after weight training when organizing your workouts.
Cardio burns a ton of calories, so if you do it before weight training, you have essentially eaten up your body’s entire store of calories that were going to help it work out. This can result in less than ideal workouts and muscle gains.
Always do cardio after weight training, and with a decent interval in between. If you jump straight into intense cardio after weight training you will most likely pass out. Make sure to take time in between the two to fuel yourself for your next workout. Some people like to split up the times of day they do cardio and lift into two separate sessions. If you have that time to spare, why not give it a try?
Cardio Wrap Up
Overall, cardio is something that a lot of people tend to dread. While it may not be the most fun thing to do, it also does not have to be a punishment. There are so many benefits to doing it, if done correctly. Cardio can actually make or break your fitness goals, and it also is a good way to stay in shape and have a healthy heart. Maximize the effectiveness of your cardio routines.
What is your favorite type of cardio?
Team, H. and V. (2021, November 16). From head to toe: The benefits of a cardio workout. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved December 23, 2022, from (Source)
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, February 17). 10 great reasons to Love aerobic exercise. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved December 23, 2022, from (Source)