What is too much vs too little cardio training?
“Everybody want to be a bodybuilder, but don’t nobody want to lift no heavy weight!” is the famous mantra of one Ronnie Coleman, 8-time Mr. Olympia winner. However, a parallel phrase which also rings true is “everybody want to get big, but too many people waste their hard-earned muscle doing cardio!”
The use of cardiovascular exercise for a bodybuilder is quite the tricky conundrum. If you complete too much cardio, then you burn up your muscle. You use up the calories that should be being put to use building new muscle. So cardio costs, you muscle, right?
Too little cardio means you get fat, right? What good is ten new pound of muscle, if it’s insulated in 25 new pound of fat? Does this mean you should complete a lot more cardio?
Too much cardio and your joints will ache when leg day rolls around, right? This is getting complicated! So you cut back. Now you’re not hungry?
Too little cardio also means you have no appetite, right? Without that level of activity, your digestion slows and it’s impossible to obtain adequate hunger needed for those six moderately sized meals that you are going to need to eat in order to grow the most new muscle possible. So it’s time to climb on that treadmill, right?
Too much cardio means your system is on a continual cycle of exhaustion, and you are never able to fully let your central nervous system recover. Your immune system will falter and you will never fully heal from your workouts. So if you want to be healthy, then you need to lessen that cardio, right?
Too little cardio and your health suffers. We all want strong tickers, right? At least some of us are concerned about our heart health and as you get older, you will be more and more focused upon keeping your heart as healthy as possible. This question “how much cardio does a bodybuilder need when trying to gain muscle?” seems to have opposite answers, doesn’t it?
This brings us to the solution. The answer lies in the middle, of course. You shouldn’t completely remove all cardiovascular training from your workout protocol, no matter how much you’re trying to gain weight. You should start at a standard flat rate of minutes for cardio – TEN MINUTES per day of moderate walking on the treadmill, FOUR TIMES per week. Complete this for 2 to 4 weeks. See if your appetite isn’t spurned, your breathing isn’t strong, and you’re still making gains in the weight room and on the scale. Adjust that ten minutes according, but use it as a standard starting cardio baseline when building new muscle.