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Cardiovascular Training For Bodybuilders.

While dieting for a bodybuilding competition, the ultimate goal is to lose body fat while maintaining the amount of muscle you have. Here are some sample routines to make sure you get adequate cardio.

By: Derek Beast Charlebois

Endurance, A.K.A. cardiovascular training, improves the heart's ability to pump blood and increases oxygen uptake into cells. A "fit" person can also lose more fat at rest and during exercise than an unfit person. Bodybuilders use cardiovascular training mainly as a means to increase caloric expenditure thereby increasing fat loss or decreasing fat gain.

While dieting for a bodybuilding competition, the ultimate goal is to lose body fat while maintaining the amount of muscle you have. Because your caloric intake is hypocaloric, meaning you are BURNING more calories than you are consuming, it is possible to lose muscle.

The fear of losing muscle causes many bodybuilders to be scared and confused about what type of cardio to do, when to do it, how long to do it for, along with other concerns. This article will address one strategy bodybuilders can do cardio while preparing for a competition or during any developmental stage based on both scientific literature and anecdotal feedback.


Cardiovascular Training For Bodybuilders


-> Low-Moderate Intensity Cardio On Weight Training Days:

    As stated in the intro, bodybuilders primarily use cardio as a means in increase their caloric expenditure (Cardiovascular training has a TON of other health benefits, but we will not touch on those benefits here). The use of low-intensity cardio, done either pre or post weight training, allows one to burn more calories while not hampering recovery.

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    Low-intensity cardio is not as strenuous on the body as high-intensity cardio or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It would be very hard for someone to complete a HIIT session pre weight training as it would decrease your performance when lifting weights or to complete the session post weight training as it would be very fatiguing.

    We want to keep the body healthy and injury free. If you get injured then your workouts will suffer or cease altogether. Therefore, I feel it is more practical to perform low to moderate intensity cardio on weight training days. Now one could perform their cardio separate from their weight training, but for most that would mean two trips to the gym, which is impractical; Hence my recommendation to perform cardio pre or post weight training.

    Whether you choose to do your cardio pre or post weight training is a personal preference. Remember, your main goal is to hit it hard in the weight room. If doing cardio pre weight training decreases your performance then it would be better for you to do it post workout. If you find that you are too tired to do cardio post weight training or simply find you become too bored and enough do not finish your cardio session, it would be better for you to do your cardio pre weight training.

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-> High-Intensity/High-Intensity-Interval Training On Non-Weight Training Days:

    High-intensity cardio stresses both the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems. The anaerobic energy system is what is stressed during weight training. Putting too much stress on the anaerobic system and hampering recovery is one reason why I do not recommend performing weight training and HIIT on the same day. Obviously running at 6 mph will burn more calories than running at 3 mph, but one has to balance their activities to allow for proper recovery.

Cardio
Click Image To Enlarge.
One Has To Balance Their Activities
To Allow For Proper Recovery.

    There are two main types of high-intensity cardio:

    1. Continuous
    2. Interval Training

    1. Continuous High-Intensity Cardio:

      Continuous high-intensity cardio would be running at a high speed on the treadmill or elliptical machine for a long duration (i.e. 5+ minutes).

    2. High-Intensity Interval Cardio:

    Now it is time to create a program and to put it into action.


Weight Training & Cardio Programs


-> Adding Lean Mass:

    The following two programs would be ideal for someone trying to add lean mass:

    • Monday:
      45-60 minutes Weight Training
      Followed by 30 minutes Low-Intensity Cardio
    • Tuesday:
      45-60 minutes Weight Training
      Followed by 30 minutes Low-Intensity Cardio
    • Wednesday: OFF
    • Thursday:
      45-60 minutes Weight Training
      Followed by 30 minutes Low-Intensity Cardio
    • Friday:
      45-60 minutes Weight Training
      Followed by 30 minutes Low-Intensity Cardio
    • Saturday: OFF
    • Sunday: Some much needed REST!
    • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Adding Lean Mass Plan 1.

      Note: As you lose weight and your fitness level improves you will most likely have to increase you duration and intensity of your cardio sessions.

    OR

    • Monday:
      45-60 minutes Weight Training
    • Tuesday:
      45-60 minutes Weight Training
    • Wednesday:
      15-20 minutes of High-Intensity Cardio on the Elliptical Machine
    • Thursday:
      45-60 minutes Weight Training
    • Friday:
      45-60 minutes Weight Training
    • Saturday:
      HIIT-Sprints: Ten 100 meter sprints
    • Sunday: Some much needed REST!
    • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Adding Lean Mass Plan 2.

      Note: As you lose weight and your fitness level improves you will most likely have to increase you duration and intensity of your cardio sessions.


-> Losing Body Fat:

    The following program could be used by someone trying to lose body fat and get RIPPED!

    • Monday:
      45-60 minutes Weight Training
      Followed by 30 minutes Low-Intensity Cardio
    • Tuesday:
      45-60 minutes Weight Training
      Followed by 30 minutes Low-Intensity Cardio
    • Wednesday:
      15-20 minutes of High-Intensity Cardio on the Elliptical Machine
    • Thursday:
      45-60 minutes Weight Training
      Followed by 30 minutes Low-Intensity Cardio
    • Friday:
      45-60 minutes Weight Training
      Followed by 30 minutes Low-Intensity Cardio
    • Saturday:
      HIIT-Sprints: Ten 100 meter sprints
    • Sunday: Some much needed REST!!!
    • print Click Here For A Printable Log Of Losing Body Fat Plan.

      Note: As you lose weight and your fitness level improves you will most likely have to increase you duration and intensity of your cardio sessions.


Click Image To Enlarge.
Derek Charlebois.


Conclusion

As bodybuilders, weight training is your primary concern. You do not want to do too much cardio and impair your recovery from weight training. Whether trying to gain muscle or lose fat cardio should be done. The exact amount will vary by your goal, fitness level, and ability to recover.

Cardiovascular Training For Bodybuilders.
derek@scivation.com

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butlersrone

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butlersrone

i like this artical because i'm getting motivated to trying too lose some un-wanted weight that i've got so a costume to.So now that i'm up in age i need to get more healther and i want to look good in my older life.

Jan 16, 2013 8:14am | report
 
karmaagent

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karmaagent

I'm trying to sched BF to get to 10%. I think I'll try the last one "losing BF" weekly routine.

I've been doing some medium intensity interval training on the elliptical pre workouts. I would like to see how the low intensity cardio will help burn the BF.

Thanks!

Apr 8, 2013 11:11am | report
 
mrrkmiller

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mrrkmiller

I have been doing HIIT after my weight lifting. I have been feeling very tired and recovery is horrible for the next day. I'll save the HIIT for a day of its own and do low cardio.

Jul 18, 2013 8:49am | report
 
TheGimNoob

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TheGimNoob

That's an awesome idea. It is as I've read, very bad to do high intensity cardio after a workout because you overtrain your muscles and burn them. Low intensity cardio as you said . . .if your main goal is to los fat while preserving muscle tissue.

May 1, 2014 2:15pm | report
TheGimNoob

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TheGimNoob

This is perfect for my 365 days zero to hero program and it doesn't clash with the other programs days. this is what I will be doing from Monday with my other program. I think I might just leave out the 10x 100meters sprint on Saturdays and replace it with something like skipping rope or something, any thoughts? Anyway, thanks for the effort with the program.

May 1, 2014 2:11pm | report
 
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