Cardio and Bodybuilders

Cardio and BodybuildersHello!  Working in the fitness industry, a lot of times I hear people debating whether bodybuilders or people mainly concerned about building muscle need cardio.

So today I thought I’d share some information on cardio and bodybuilders to help answer that question.

First I’d like to say that cardio exercise is good for everyone, regardless of your fitness goals.  Some people are concerned about cardio training breaking down muscle tissue to use for energy.  However, your body only does this as a last resort, after all other energy sources have been depleted.

Your body will use glucose, carbs, and fats before it resorts to breaking down muscle tissue for energy.  This being said, most people don’t do enough cardio to have to worry about that happening.  If someone is trying to preserve muscle tissue, they can normally do between 120-150 minutes of cardio per week and still maintain their muscle mass.

Now, if someone’s goal is to lose weight, they should do about 150-250 minutes of cardio per week to help them burn fat.  Once they hit their target weight, they can ease up on the cardio a little bit and focus more on building muscle.  Below are some of the major benefits and why everyone should do at least a little cardio.

1. Heart and Lungs –  Cardiorespiratory training strengthens your heart muscle.  This allows you to increase your endurance and go farther into workouts before getting fatigued.  It also strengthens your lungs so your body can take in more oxygen which also helps your endurance.

2. Resting Metabolism Rate – Having a strong cardio system keeps your resting metabolism functioning at a good pace.  This helps you burn calories at a decent rate while resting.

Cardio and Bodybuilders3. Active Metabolism Rate – Your active metabolism is improved by doing cardio as well.  This is your metabolism that burns calories throughout the day.

It’s done via daily activities such as walking, moving your arms and legs, etc.

4. Caloric Burn – For those trying to lose weight or tone up 30 minutes or more of moderate to intense cardio can do wonders.  Even bodybuilders that may have just a little bit of fat they’re trying to get rid of can benefit from it.

Below are different types of cardio workouts that can be done to improve your fitness.

1. Steady State/Continous – Getting your heart rate elevated for at least 10 minutes or more from an activity.

2. Intervals – Short term high intensity activity with short rest periods in between activities.

3. Circuits – Short duration high intensity activities mixed with low intensity strength training.

Common Modes of Cardio

1. Running – Running or jogging is probably the most common.  Some people choose other methods because of the impact on their joints.

2. Treadmills – Good tool to use if you want to time your session.  Many times you can adjust it so you’re on an incline to make it more challenging.

3. Ellipticals – Great devices to get your arms, shoulders, and legs involved in the action.

4. Stair Climber – Make sure you have strong knees before using, it can be moderately stressful on your lower body joints.

5. Rowing – Excellent exercise to get your back, legs, and shoulders involved with your cardio session.

6. Bicycling – Whether it’s a stationary bike or outdoor bike it’s less stressful on your joints, therefore it’s a good option for people with joint problems.

Cardio and Bodybuilders






Summary – Cardiorespiratory and cardiovascular training is a key component of fitness and shouldn’t be overlooked by anyone, regardless of your goals.Some people may need to do it more than others, but in the end it’s good for everyone’s general health and fitness.

Also, when doing cardio it doesn’t have to be limited to the exercises I listed.  Any activity that meets the criteria of the 3 types I explained can be considered cardio.  That can give you a lot of fun options to choose from, because enjoyment is important.

The more you like to do a certain exercise, the more likely you’ll want to do it again and it won’t feel like a grind.  If you have any comments or questions please let me know and I’ll get back to you.  Thanks for your time and have an awesome day!


6 thoughts on “Cardio and Bodybuilders”

  1. This is a very accurate and helpful post. A lot of people I’ve worked with in the past, want to be bodybuilders, yet hate cardio. That’s fine if you hate cardio, but cardio is very necessary for even someone trying to put on muscle mass.

    Cardio respiratory work increases HR, increased HR and exercise intensity increases stroke volume of the heart, which in turn activates the Sympathetic Nervous System, releasing Epinephrine and Nor Epinephrine. Epi and Nor Epi directly associate with glycogenesis which works to keep blood glucose levels high.

    Thus, not depleting muscle and liver glycogen levels, thus not reverting to protein catabolism for the use of energy. Most bodybuilders give me the “Oh I hate cardio” discussion. But Aerobic exercise for 10-20 minutes prior to lifting actually benefits them.

    I was an exercise physiology major in college, I kind of nerd out on this stuff 🙂 Great post!

    1. Thanks for your great insight on this topic Jeremy, I agree bodybuilders can definitely benefit from even just a little cardio. Have a great day!


  2. I’m not sure if it’d be considered cardio, but I do a lot of martial arts training which put quite a demand on the respiratory system. This has allowed me to increased my resting heart rate and longevity of my workouts without ever having had to run more than a mile. I usually run a mile simply to test how fast I can get it done. Great read.

    1. Hi Wil,

      Yes martial arts can definitely be considered cardio. Any activity that gets your heart elevated more than about 10 minutes can be considered cardio exercise. Sounds like you have a great workout plan, thanks for your input!


  3. Hi

    Great information about fitness on this blog.

    I prefer Cardio over weights because I find it a lot harder and more challenging. Weights are great for building muscle tone, but for fitness required for most sports you simply cannot go past cardio training.

    Do you have any specific types of cardio training you prefer?


    1. Hi Chris,

      Personally I like jogging around my neighborhood and playing basketball for some of my cardio.  I also like doing different cardio exercises as well.  Thanks for your comment and have a great day!


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