• Should-you-do-cardio-when-bulking

Should You Do Cardio When Bulking?

Your goal is to build muscle and gain weight, but you don’t want to get fat in the process. So adding cardio makes a lot of sense as it should keep fat gain in check.

Lyle McDonald“During the overfeeding that is needed to generate maximum gains in muscle mass, the body often loses some of its ability to use fat as a fuel and this can take a couple of weeks to get fully ramped back up when calories are restricted (I suspect this explains some of the odd delay that seems to occur in true fat loss when people start dieting again).

And this seems to be even more pronounced if folks have been doing zero cardio while they are gaining muscle mass.  By keeping in some amount of cardio during the mass gaining phase, at least some ability to use fat effectively for fuel is maintained.  When the dieting phase eventually starts, the body will be in a better place to use fat for fuel.”

4. Good Cardiovascular Health Is Very Important

Look:

Cardio when bulking is important for the same reason that it always is, health!

Doing cardio trains your heart, lungs and blood vessels better than what only strength training do.

It improves the flow of oxygen throughout your body, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce your risk for heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and some kinds of cancer.

Not only will adding some cardio in your strength training routine promote greater health, it’s also been shown that low intensity cardio reduces stress and thus promotes a healthier environment in the body.

This environment also promotes better recovery, which can potentially lead to more muscle growth as discussed earlier.

5. It Will Make You Feel More Energized

This is something I think is connected to the health aspect of doing cardio.

In the beginning of my fitness journey I didn’t do any cardio. All I did was watching my diet and strength trained. Even though this approach worked, as you can see in my transformation video, one thing I learned recently was that I lacked a lot of daily energy back then.

Here’s how I learned that:

When I began PT school a few months ago, I started doing cardio twice per week with my class. And this had me feel so much more energized.

I feel more productive and alert during the days, and best of all my sleep quality went up immensely. This is a very positive benefit, since sleep is one of the most important factors when it comes to maximizing muscle growth.

What Types Of Cardio To Do

When it comes to cardio there are generally three different types people refer to:

  1. Low intensity steady state (LISS)
  2. Moderate intensity steady state (MISS)
  3. High intensity interval training (HIIT)

I’m sure you’ve heard that doing moderate intensity steady state (MISS) is negative when it comes to muscle growth and strength development, and that Low intensity steady state (LISS) and High intensity interval training (HIIT) is fine.

Well, this isn’t entirely true. The reason why people believe this is because it’s so easy to do too much training when you do MISS. It’s not a problem with the training modality, it’s a problem with doing too much training volume, so recovery becomes an issue, which can lead to plateaus.

This means that it’s completely fine to pick any of the modalities as long as you’re not training too much. Let’s look at what too much is:

How To Program Your Cardio

Low Intensity Steady State Cardio

This type of cardio is the easiest kind, but it requires time to give noticeable effects on calorie burn.

Low intensity cardio is only suppose to raise your heart rate a bit, for most people low intensity would happen somewhere between a brisk walk or a slow jog. You should be able to keep a conversation going without much effort.

How Much LISS to do:

  • 7000-10000 steps walking or jogging slowly, or the equivalent on another modality, per day is good.
  • LISS is so low impact that it won’t interfere with strength training even if you do a lot of it.

What Type of Modality to Choose When Doing LISS?

  • Any modality such as walking, jogging, cycling, rowing and swimming etc. is okay.
  • I think that “lifestyle cardio” is the best cardio that you can do. This would be for example, taking brisk walks/light joggs or the bike to your work, gym or the store. Doing this gives you a lot of additional daily movement without thinking about it too much.

Medium Intensity Steady State Cardio

This is the type of cardio that you should be careful with, since it’s very easy to go overboard on the amount of training you do in a week.

MISS is when you do some sort of cardio activity repeatedly at a moderate intensity. As opposed to LISS, this is when it’s hard to keep a conversation, you’re sweating, and your heart rate is elevated to moderate or high levels.

How Much MISS to do:

  • Keep sessions short and don’t do more than 2-3 hours of this cardio per week.
  • MISS will interfere with strength training if you do too much of it.
  • Do MISS for the purpose of burning calories, not for improving performance, as trying to improve performance will interfere with your strength training.

What Type of Modality to Choose When Doing MISS?

  • Any modality except jogging and running.
  • Jogging and running is much more disruptive of the muscular system with a movement that is also very nonspecific to strength training. During running there’s a large eccentric portion which are known to cause a lot of muscle damage. When running the stress on the legs would simply be too large, making recovery harder, which would ultimately result in decreased strength training performance and muscle mass.
  • If your goal is to mainly build your upper body, then running is okay.

High Intensity Interval Training

This type of cardio is great.

It’s awesome for conditioning, burns more calories per minute compared to low intensity cardio and it’s also been shown to support strength gains because it’s very similar to weightlifting in terms of high effort and rest periods.

However, you shouldn’t do too much of this cardio, since it’s very taxing on recovery, which could potentially steal recovery from your strength training.

How Much HIIT to do:

  • 15 minutes 2-3 times per week.
  • HIIT can help promote strength and muscle growth if done moderately. But it can interfere with strength training if you do too much of it.

What Type of Modality to Choose When Doing HIIT?

  • Any modality except jogging and running.
  • Jogging and running is much more disruptive of the muscular system with a movement that is also very nonspecific to strength training. During running there’s a large eccentric portion which are known to cause a lot of muscle damage. When running the stress on the legs would simply be too large, making recovery harder, which would ultimately result in decreased strength training performance and muscle mass.
  • If your goal is to mainly build your upper body, then running is okay.

Here’s a Good HIIT Routine:

  • 3-5 minute warm-up
  • 30 seconds all out
  • Rest 30 seconds (complete rest or moving slowly)
  • 30 seconds all out
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • Repeat this for 15 minutes

Instead of doing HIIT routines like the one above, you could play sports 1-2 times per week on rest days for 20-30 minutes. Sports usually involve short periods of high intensity efforts with periods of walking or resting, so it’s very similar to HIIT.

A great benefit of playing sports is that they’re typically more enjoyable than normal “cardio” because you do something that’s not as repetitive, and you can have fun playing with your friends or a team in the meanwhile.

That’s my take on cardio when bulking. What’s your opinion? Do you have any questions or ideas? Let me know down in the comments below!

By |2018-11-22T12:52:57+00:00November 6th, 2018|All Articles, General Fitness|0 Comments

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