Does Cardio Affect Muscle Gains When Bodybuilding?

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It’s no secret that the majority of bodybuilders, both professional or beginner, love to hit the weights but aren’t particularly fond of cardio. We dont want to lose those muscle gains! There are many arguments that weight training burns more calories than cardio and makes the need for dedicated cardio irrelevant. However, what if adding cardio to your daily routine could help you achieve your desired physique quicker?

What is Cardio’s Impact on Body Fat?

High intensity interval training, or HIIT, has been shown to drastically reduce subcutaneous fat, abdominal fat and total body mass in many studies. To achieve the best physique possible, bodybuilders need to have a body fat percentage between 6% and 13% for men, or 14% to 20% for women. Hitting this body fat percentage without cardio is unlikely and arguably unhealthy depending on the route you take to achieve it.


What is Cardio’s Impact on Muscle Gains?

It is important to find the proper balance between bodybuilding and cardio to ensure you aren’t wasting muscle or inhibiting muscle growth. Strenuous cardio can deplete the various nutrients and components in the body needed to adequately build and maintain muscle, meaning that depleting these components could inhibit muscle gains. For this reason, moderate amounts of cardio with a well-rounded diet will ensure that muscle growth continue while keeping your body lean.


How Do I Find a Balance Between Cardio and Bodybuilding?

If you are focusing on growing muscle, you likely won’t need to perform as much cardio as someone who is attempting to lose fat while gaining muscle. For instance, if your body fat is already in an acceptable range, less cardio will be required and will serve more as maintenance than continued progress. On the other hand, if your body fat is not where it needs to be, more cardio may be required to achieve your target physique.


Final Thoughts

Forcing yourself to do cardio can seem like a struggle at times if you aren’t already used to incorporating it into your routine. Many find that doing cardio after lifting provides better results for them because the glycogen stores in their body haven’t been depleted yet. Experiment and start slow when incorporating cardio into your routine and you will be hitting your goals before you know it.

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