When it comes to building muscle, the brain has been programmed to believe that weight training is the ticket. Sure, it’s true that you need to sling weights on a regular basis. But there is another necessary component that is often overlooked. It’s called cardio.
This is a form of exercise done in a repetitive manner for an extended period of time. Your heart rate gets elevated and you usually end up breaking a sweat. If you are serious about building muscle, then you definitely need to keep this in your program. And there is a certain amount you need to make it worth your while.
Here’s the thing. During a cardio session, let’s say running, your legs move for an extended period of time. This causes a slight contraction of your muscles, but nothing to write home about.
You can develop a little bit of muscle tone from this feedback, but it won’t cause you to bulk up. In fact, cardio is used as a form of exercise to lose weight. So, you may be thinking, how can this benefit your muscle-building objectives?
Here’s how. When you do heavy weight training, cardio can be integrated on your off days. This will keep oxygenated blood flow going to your muscles, which will reduce soreness and expedite your recoveries.
Cardio also improves your aerobic capacity. This translates nicely to your weight training workouts because it will allow you to go harder, heavier, and longer without getting as winded.
Lastly, it can melt away residual fat that you obviously do not want. These are all bonuses that you just cannot ignore.
How Much Cardio Should I Do When Trying To Build Muscle?
When it comes to how much cardio you need in order to build muscle, the rub comes when you try to figure out just how much time you need to devote to it. You have to find a sweet spot. The last thing you want to do is tons of cardio because that can defeat the purpose. You want to do just enough to get all the benefits above.
As a rule of thumb, aim for about 30 minutes, three days a week, and go at a moderate pace. The form you choose is irrelevant. Running, biking, spinning, stair-climbing, rowing, and elliptical training are all perfectly fine. It’s more important that you like the form of cardio that you are doing.
The flip side
Here is something that’s completely opposite to the slow and steady cardio idea. You can actually use cardio to build muscle, provided that the right conditions are met. Instead of going at a light and steady pace, you need to do the complete opposite. Go as hard as you can and do it in an interval pattern.
What this does is boosts your testosterone levels, which in turn causes you to build more muscle throughout your entire body. The key is to treat your intervals like reps and do 12 to 15 of them in a workout. Start with a light 5-minute warm-up and end with a light 5-minute cooldown.
In between, hit it hard for 30 seconds and do a slow recovery for 60. Simply alternate back and forth until you’ve done the amount of rounds you want and then do your cooldown. Again, aim for 3 days a week, but do it on non-consecutive days.
Hopefully this has cleared the waters for you a bit when it comes to how much cardio you need in order to build muscle. As long as you follow the rules and do what’s best for your overall objective, you’ll get strong, yoked, and dialed in no time flat.