So now everyone is going for a run since isolation, even your hardcore bodybuilding friends. What has the world come to?
But it brings up a super valid point, with more people doing cardio because of their lack of equipment, what is the ideal amount of cardio to do for a lifter and their gains?
Some goals actually need more cardio than what you think. Yep. cardio. A VERY forbidden word in our world usually.
DON'T ATTACK, DON'T SHOOT. Hear us out. Depending on your goals, cardio may not be the enemy you once thought it was.
Now let us make this clear, when we say cardio, we don’t necessarily mean running 10 miles every day, we mean strategic implementation of cardio that will complement your goals. NOT ALL GOALS NEED CARDIO. Okay. Glad we got that off our chest.
So how much cardio should I do?
We are going to get into the nitty gritty in a moment, but this is dependent on your goals. Generally speaking, if you’re a lifter and looking to put some cardio into your routine, start off slow. Look at integrating one session a week for a shorter amount of time (10-15 minutes) and see how your body reacts and then change accordingly.
But again different goals = different amounts of cardio. And to help you out we have made a full breakdown of different types of lifters and lifting goals, so you can see where you and cardio stand.
This is one of the few times where cardio might not be your top priority. In short, if you’re building or bulking, it’s best to give cardio a miss, FOR NOW. Adding cardiovascular training into your schedule may increase the breakdown of protein and lead to a decrease in your gains, basically meaning that you’ll have to eat double the amount of chicken breast every single day, and no one wants that. But you’ll be burning unnecessary energy and having to rely on food gains a lot more. You don't want mind games, you want actual gains. So no cardio for now, or at least try to minimise it.
Okay now we can be a bit more open to cardio. This generally means you’ll be in a calorie deficit to try and strip fat from the body. To aid in this process you can add some cardio training to help create a larger deficit if you’re struggling to get that balance right. While cardio can help, there is such a thing as too much. We ain’t about that life.
Cardio you should consider for shredding is LISS (low intensity steady state) training. It still burns calories without having a large effect on your PSR (protein synthesis rate). Choices include jogging, cycling, swimming, rowing. If your knees, hips or back are struggling a bit then maybe conditioning off feet where possible, or using minimal impact cardio machines. Don’t be scared to throw in some higher intensity cardio workouts too if your body is feeling good. But of course, everything in moderation. And to top it off, why not look good while you do your cardio? Gals, consider the Courtside range. The 90's vibes give off a super vintage look, and look perfect for any type of work out. Guys, our boy Chayse Green in the above photos is rocking Duty while doing his cardio, and you probably should too.
So you’re the person at the gym that has a lifting belt like no other, from a brand that we’ve never heard of. We get it, you can lift heavier than us. But in all seriousness, this is another scenario that is a typical ‘don’t’ for cardio. Since shredding never crosses your mind and your goal is pure strength, cardio isn’t really in your vocab. And since your goal is picking up the heaviest weight possible, you don't want to compromise any muscle mass or motor unit recruitment properties at all. Consistent cardiovascular training WILL have a negative effect on strength gains and performance. Does that mean you can’t go for a run every now and then? Nah, just don’t over do it.
Lifters who are shaping, toning and defining their body
Okay so you’re not fully into crazy bodybuilding training, but you’re close to it and want to have gains, but be super lean. We get it, it’s that hard to describe that in between aesthetic. But cardio should be that extra tool aiding in fat loss to help you get that toned and defined look. Make cardio interesting and try HIIT and circuit variations to get the heart rate up. Don’t know what a HIIT workout would look like? Look at what we prepared earlier! Our previous article is a guide to creating the perfect HIIT session. You’re welcome.
Sporadic lifters who are wanting to get back onto the gains train
Cardiovascular training could be your new training partner! I know, crazy! It will aid in increasing your aerobic capacity (that thing that gets you out of breath when you have to walk up a flight of stairs) and consequently have you feeling better in your day to day living pretty quickly. But if you are then wanting to strip fat, tone up, and/or feel fit, then don’t let cardio go completely.
Start with a low intensity steady state run starting at 10 minutes increasing up to 30 minutes in 5 minute blocks every 1-2 weeks. Do it more than once a week to increase quicker. Once you can confidently jog for 30 minutes without stopping, that's when you can start introducing all the fun stuff like HIIT circuits, just remember to increase in increments. If you jump straight into some HIIT or other types of higher intensity cardio workouts, you and your body could be in for a rude shock. So start slow and build it up.
The allrounder lifter and athlete
You’re the person that wants it all, the strength, the power, the fitness, the physique, and there is nothing wrong with that. Being versatile will only benefit you! However, your training will become a balancing act. The amount of cardio you do will come down to where you are in your journey. If you’ve been in the game for a while then you have to weigh up what is more important to you. Your strength and power? Or your aerobic capacity? Whichever biomotor ability you want more than the other, then prioritise that and vice versa. Can you do both? Of course you can, just note that cardiovascular training CAN have some negative effects on performance such as strength and power. If you feel your lifts are dropping or plateauing, maybe look at decreasing your cardio loads.
So even though your long time bodybuilder friends kept harping on about how sprints are for some reason God’s gift, doesn’t mean that it will work for your goals too. They might, but they also might not. Experiment and find what works FOR YOU! There is no one size fits all approach.
But overall, who would have thought isolation would mean you would start to do cardio? Seriously, we can’t believe it either. Gone are the days of snubbing off HIIT sessions and in are the days of strategic cardio.