Majority of the guys want to have a muscular physique and going for a bulking period seems like a perfect solution to it.
But bulking is not as easy as it looks, it demands a lot of hard work and right guidance.
Bulking is all about gaining muscle mass at your body’s maximum potential while keeping the fat gains at a minimum. Improper approach to bulking may lead to gaining enormous amounts of fat that would take months to shred down.
Myth: Cardio while bulking is bad
Many people have been asking this question, again and again, coach, do I need to do cardio while bulking?
Broscience says, don’t do cardio while you are bulking because you want to be in a caloric surplus.
Let’s do simple math before we get to the solution, how many calories are you going to burn while low-intensity cardio? A simple 100m jog will lead to burning only 8 calories ( a person weighing 180 pounds) which means a 1 km run will lead to burning around 80 calories.
That’s still a very small amount of calories in comparison to calories we consume through food, you can replenish those lost calories with a protein shake, oatmeal, or some bananas.
Reasons to do cardio while bulking
So now we know that doing cardio while bulking will not kill your gains, now let’s get to the benefits you will experience by adding cardio in routine.
1# Improved Apatite
Those who are doing the dirty bulk might not find it difficult to stay in caloric surplus but clean bulk requires a lot of dedication and mental strength.
Many people complain about how difficult it is to eat multiple meals in a day, it is a case with you as well? A good 30-minute cardio session can help.
Cardio doesn’t need to be jogging only, it can be cycling, swimming, hiking, brisk walking, etc.
If you workout in the morning then you can plan two meals before and post-workout, then get your evening snack and go for 30-mins evening cardio. It will improve your appetite.
2# Improves Heart Conditioning
Your target might be to put on maximum muscle mass but you should not be ignoring your heart health. Treat your heart just like any other muscle in your body, regular training will keep it stronger and healthier.
Improved heart health has a direct impact on your training quality as well, it will help you sustain longer workout sessions without feeling exhausted.
Additionally, a bulking diet contains larger portions of fat which makes it necessary to indulge in some kind of cardiovascular activity to avoid cholesterol buildup and maintain a healthy heart. A healthy heart ensures longevity.
3# Reduces Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, but regular cardio can help you maintain a healthy heart.
Your body has got its own mechanism to adapt to the added resistance.
When you provide added resistance to muscle fibers, we see them grow stronger and bigger, the same case is with your heart.
Cardio gets us out of breath because body is struggling to match up the body’s requirement to blood circulation and your muscle starts to give up.
But with consistent cardio training, the heart adapts to this added resistance by improving its maximum stroke volume. Stroke volume can be understood as the amount of blood your heart pumps into the system with severe stroke.
In simple terms, your heart’s ability to pump more blood increases. Now to keep up with normal supply, your heart needs to generate lesser strokes because of improved efficiency, this helps in reducing blood pressure.
4# Improves Insulin-Sensitivity
Developing insulin resistance decreases the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients. Because of staying in a continuous caloric surplus, many bodybuilders develop insulin resistance.
A study published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science indicates a clear cut benefit of aerobic exercise on insulin sensitivity.
Researchers found, “The aerobic exercise program used in these studies was effective to reduce insulin resistance and/or FM (fat mass) in the central body region among overweight and obese women.”. Researchers also noted that the benefits lasted only till the regular aerobic exercises were continued.
Improving insulin sensitivity will improve nutrient absorption and will prevent the risk of Type ll diabetes. Lower insulin sensitivity has also been linked to lower belly fat.
5# Improves Recovery Rate
Are you aware of the active recovery routine? Active recovery routine involves the body into low-intensity aerobic activities that are not hard on the body and allows you to burn some extra calories while recovering from the previous workout session.
But broscience says “cardio kills gains”, how does it practically benefit recovery?
- It improves insulin sensitivity which assists in better absorption of nutrients.
- It improves the blood flow which helps in delivering the nutrient-rich blood. Improved blood flow also helps in clearing lactic buildup.
- Less downtime means more lifting.
6# Ease Bouncing Back For Cutting Phase
Consider a scenario, you have been on a bulking phase and you have dropped all the cardio from your routine.
Cardio will be a part of a big struggle once you try to get into the cutting phase, it may take a few weeks to properly enter into the cutting phase.
7# Increases Lung Capacity
The lungs deliver oxygen into the body, to produce energy, and eliminate carbon dioxide. The respiratory system is as important as heart health,
Your lung capacity directly helps in improving the workout endurance that is most likely to suffer while on a bulking diet.
The sedentary lifestyle and lack of cardiovascular activities negatively affect a person’s respiratory function. Doing aerobic exercises regularly can strengthen the muscles of respiration and improve lung capacity.
Follow regular cardio sessions while bulking if you don’t want your body to give up before your muscles do.
8# Boosts mood
So we have talked about the benefits of cardio while bulking on your heart health, lungs function, appetite, insulin resistance, etc, now let’s have a look at its benefits on brain functioning and other neurological parameters.
Getting into a bulking or cutting routine can be a stressful situation for many lifters and anything that could boost the mood is highly appreciable.
Indulging in cardiovascular activities can improve your mood and reduce depression to a greater extent. Cardiovascular exercise helps to make you a happier person because of the secretion of endorphins, a hormone that gives you blissful feeling. Endorphins, also structurally similar to the drug morphine, are considered natural painkillers.
Additionally, Aerobic exercises also assist in improving sleep quality which is directly responsible for lower stress and higher testosterone levels.
A study conducted on 16 females found, “Aerobic physical activity with sleep hygiene education is an effective treatment approach to improve sleep quality, mood, and quality of life in older adults with chronic insomnia.”
9# Cardio Reduces Body Fat
Cardio helps in trimming down fat, no need to prove it with scientific research.
I know you have been eating in surplus to gain weight but not all of it is muscle mass, you will be gaining a few pounds of fat as well. Cardiovascular workouts are good at burning excess glycogen and fat stores
Having a lower fat % will help you stay in a healthy range of fat mass while bulking. The lesser fat you gain today will ease the cutting phase tomorrow.
DOES CARDIO BURN MUSCLE- Rich Piana
Best Time To Do Cardio While Bulk
The best time to do cardio depends on the training schedule. If you strength train 3 days a week then you can fit in your cardio session on your off day, this will also help in faster recovery.
If you’re on a four or five-day training schedule you’ll probably need to do cardio on the same day.
Cardio and strength training in separate sessions
Best time to do cardio while bulking is to do the cardio and strength training in separate sessions.
How does it help?
Assigning a separate cardio session greatly helps in improving hunger levels. We all feel more hungry after the workout, right?
Additionally, splitting your training into two parts will help you maintain optimum glycogen reserves to keep your muscle fueled without wasting any muscle mass.
Do the strength work before cardio
Not everyone has got the luxury to devote two training sessions, because of busy schedules.
Cardio should be done after a strength session to have optimum energy and strength levels. Muscle requires more glycogen to push harder while heavy lifting, and you can’t afford to have compromised gains because of lost glycogen.
LISS vs HIIT Cardio While Bulking?
HIIT cardio will lead to burning a lot more calories even hours after a workout, which makes it hard to track the calories.
Low intensity cardio will help in heart conditioning without burning an excess amount of calories.
I personally suggest people to choose Low-intensity Steady-state (LISS) cardio for the bulking phase.
3 Common Bulking Mistakes
Unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation about bulking and I want to share some of the common mistakes bro’s have been doing that leads them to “failed bulk”.
Eating a lot of calories
When it comes to bulking, the first thing that comes into people’s mind is “eating a lot of calories”, no matter where these calories are coming from. Some guys consider bulking as a ‘license to eat junk food’, of course, junk food will get you in a caloric surplus lot easier but that food does not help in lean muscle gain.
Your bulking should not be focused on carb intake, instead it should be more focused on optimum protein for maximum growth. Carbs are just a source of fuel that is required to help you lift heavy at the gym and for the proper recovery.
Tip: carb requirement can be different for everyone, depending on your weight, BMR, body type, etc. Consulting/ hiring a certified nutritionist to figure out your carb intake for bulking should be the best strategy.
Skipping the fat intake:
Fat is an essential macronutrients that is required to maintain optimum body composition, still people are avoiding it.
Dietary fat plays a huge role in maintaining optimal cell structure and hormone levels. Try to add a lot of healthy fats like peanut butter, nuts, fish oil, olive oil, etc in your diet and you will see the difference.
Additionally, Fat is a calorie dense macronutrient that can work wonders for the hard gainers.
Continuing with same diet
This happens so often, lifters start their bulking program and see great results in the first month then their body stops to respond to their diet.
Your diet needs progressions too, just like you do with the weight training. Guys, when you are packing on muscle while bulking that means your BMR is also increasing, which means your body needs more calories to experience constant progress.
That’s the reason it’s important to have a right coach who can guide you throughout your bulking process.
Thanks for reading. Questions welcomed in the comments as always.