Too many bodybuilders who have the goal of packing-on muscle mass avoid cardiovascular training. When it comes to their overall training regimens, cardio will be the first aspect they’ll choose to leave out. “I hate cardio!” is a mantra often heard around the more hardcore weight training gyms. These cardio haters have even developed physiological reasons why they should not include much cardiovascular training into their bodybuilding efforts. “I lose way too much muscle when I do cardio!” you often hear them say.
These bodybuilders’ avoidance of cardiovascular training wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that, when done with any kind of intensity, cardiovascular training is a rather painful experience, do you think? I’m sure passing up on regular cardiovascular training sessions has nothing to do with the fact that cardio can be both physically and mentally draining, does it? Not to mention, cardio can be rather time-consuming. Of course, one of the reasons why some bodybuilders never create a structured cardiovascular training regimen wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that cardio isn’t nearly as glamorous as the bench press or alternating dumbbell curls, right? No, no, no! Many bodybuilders have rationalized that cardiovascular training done on a regular basis simply makes them lose their hard-earned muscle. How can you argue with that reasoning? Bodybuilding is all about earning and preserving as much muscle as possible, right? Well, maybe that rationale has a few flaws in it. Let me explain.
I was watching a professional football game one Sunday afternoon when I heard an interesting observation by the announcer. This observation could easily apply to bodybuilders who are trying to take their physiques to the next level and in other aspects of life as well. John Madden, the former coach who went on to do the play-by-play analysis and commentary for NFL football games, said this about coaching professional football: “When something doesn’t happen the way a coach wants it to happen,” said Madden, “He comes up with an excuse. When enough time passes, that excuse becomes a reason. As more time goes by, that reason eventually becomes a philosophy.” Think about his observation for a moment. That’s the way I sometimes feel when a bodybuilder tries to convince me that his philosophy for not making regular cardiovascular training a part of his bodybuilding regimen is because he wants to preserve his hard-earned muscle.
Cardiovascular Training Can Improve Your General Health And Your Appearance
Whether your goal is to improve your general health, the way your body looks, or both, cardiovascular training should be integrated into your bodybuilding training regimen. Some people training in the gym use cardiovascular exercise primarily to improve their overall physical health. Their principal purpose of cardiovascular training is to create and maintain healthy, strong, well-functioning bodies. Cardiovascular training done on a regular basis keeps the heart pumping strong, blood circulating properly, and helps to improve your breathing capacity, while boosting your endurance. A consistent program also reduces your blood pressure, reduces glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, increases HDL-cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), and decreases total cholesterol.
The majority of people who are training in the gym these days, however, integrate cardiovascular training into their workout regimens for aesthetic purposes. Put very simply, they want to look good. How they feel usually comes secondary to the awesome-looking, lean physique they want to display. This is especially true for most bodybuilders and fitness competitors. Frequent cardiovascular training sessions help speed up your body’s metabolism and raise your body temperature. A faster metabolism and increased body temperature over time helps you lose body fat and maintain lower body fat levels. As a bodybuilder, cardiovascular training should be important to you not only because it supports your metabolic and training objectives. It helps you look great. I strongly recommend that you include regular cardiovascular training into your overall fitness program.
Just like most other bodybuilders, I want to build as much muscle as humanly possible. But, more importantly, I want to stay physically fit and live a long, healthy life. I incorporate cardiovascular training into my workout regimen all year long—not only when I’m trying to get extremely lean for a bodybuilding contest. As I stated before, cardiovascular training keeps me healthy. A big, strong, lean, and muscular physique is great—but a big, strong, lean, muscular, and healthy physique is even better!
Cardiovascular Training Can Help You Lower Your Body Fat Levels
Cardiovascular training helps you reduce your body fat levels because it helps regulate your metabolism. Why is regulating your metabolism important to fat loss? Let me use a metaphor to explain. Do you remember those spinning “tops” you played with as a child? You know, those small, plastic or wood, cone-shaped toys? When you snapped the little handle between your thumb and middle finger, the top would spin around and around on its tiny, pointed tip. Do you remember? When you played with the top, your goal was to make the top spin as long and hard as possible by creating a powerful torque with your fingers. The more powerful the torque you created, the longer and the harder the top would spin. Think of your body’s metabolism just like the top’s spinning motion. You control your body’s metabolism by getting it to “spin” as long and as hard as possible. An effective cardiovascular training session is like a powerful “snap” you perform with your thumb and middle finger that gets the top spinning (or your metabolism running) long and hard.
Does cardiovascular training help you burn body fat? It certainly does—but not in the way many people think it does. Many people feel that the most significant benefit of cardiovascular training is that it burns body fat while you are working out. Although some of the body’s fat stores can be burned off and used as energy during cardiovascular training, it’s actually a very insignificant amount.
Cardiovascular Training Jump-starts Your Metabolism And Stimulates Fat Loss
The greatest benefit of cardiovascular training is its effect on your body’s metabolism throughout the rest of the day. Effective cardiovascular training sessions rev up your body’s metabolism just like your fingers get a top to spin. The more effective your cardiovascular training session, the longer and harder your metabolism will function throughout the entire day. A good, hard torque with your fingers will keep a top spinning for several minutes. Even if the top is only wobbling later, it is still spinning because of the powerful spin it was given earlier. The momentum that was created keeps the spin going long after your fingers have released the toy top.
Sure, your metabolism won’t be functioning as fast as it was a few hours after your cardiovascular training session as it was, let’s say, 30 minutes after your workout. But as a result of your effective cardio workout, your metabolism will still be working harder than it normally would because of that session—even if it’s only “wobbling” a little. But just like the toy top, the momentum that you created from your effective cardiovascular training session will keep your metabolism going long after your cardio workout has been completed.