Cardio Like a beast.
Yeah, you read the title correctly. As a bodybuilder you probably already have an inherent dislike for cardio training simply because of the effect the practice can have on your muscle growth and maintenance. Consistent steady state cardio will certainly improve your endurance, but it will do nothing for your physique except eat away at that hard earned muscle.
While cardio should certainly be a staple of your program, no matter how much you hate it, it truly depends on the type of cardio you’re performing in the gym that will determine whether or not you see the results you seek. So what exactly should you be doing in the gym and what should you run away from (pun intended)?
No Steady State Cardio
When it comes to burning fat and maintaining your muscle mass, you want to avoid running at one consistent pace. For example, if you’re simply jogging the entire time while you’re doing your cardio but you’re not increasing or decreasing that pace then you can be sure that your body will dip into it’s muscles stores for energy. This is especially true if you find yourself on a cut and in a calorie deficit.
If your cardio levels are boosted yet your lifting numbers either remain consistent or even drop due to the lack of normal energy stores you can bet the body is going to adapt more to the cardiovascular training and your muscle growth will stagnate and even move backwards.
Take It Easy
The best kind of cardio for burning fat and keeping muscle is the kind that doesn’t rip your body apart. Namely, walking. You metabolic rate will rise for sure though it won’t nearly be at the levels that you’d expect from lifting or doing interval training, but it won’t break down your muscle and it will leave with enough energy that you’ll be able to hit the gym hard if you’re doing two-a-days.
Ramp Things Up
The other option for fat loss and muscle maintenance in terms of cardio training is performing HIIT. By doing interval training at high intensity your metabolic rate will skyrocket which means more calories are burned. But unlike steady state cardio HIIT training means you’re pushing your body, specifically your muscle, to the max. Notice how sprinters are always in great shape, lean but still muscular? That’s because they are constantly utilizing their muscle by pushing themselves to their limits.
They also don’t worry about training on a calorie deficit as they need as much energy as possible during their training sessions. The action of sprinting has a similar anabolic response as you’d find in lifting. HIIT including sprinting can be looked at as more muscle building cardio than traditional cardio.
Try out these methods and watch the fat burn away and your muscle continue to grow.