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As a bodybuilder you want to build big muscles whilst carrying the minimum amount of body fat possible. Finding the balance between size and definition for most weightlifters and bodybuilders is something that they never understand and therefore never achieve. Some struggle to ever get big, whereas those that have built their herculean physique worry about losing their hard earned gains. This is a problem that every bodybuilder will face at some point.
There are two safe and natural ways to get lean, without losing your hard earned gains. The first being diet, the second being cardio. Today we’ll focus on how to build cardio into your routine without eating into your muscle mass.
I have a unique insight into this issue. I was once a 118kg (260lbs) bodybuilder/weightlifter – I used to eat, breath and sleep size. Muscle mass, size and strength to more were paramount – nothing else mattered. I wanted to be the biggest, strongest dude in the gym. However this constant chasing of size over substance eventually spirals out of control and you lose sight of your original goal – building a ripped up, aesthetic physique.
I was so terrified about losing my gains that for the 7 years I spent with the iron I barely did 5 minutes of cardio – not healthy! I was terrified that any cardio would lose me size and weaken my strength. However upon quitting the weights it took me 2 years of solid cardio and dieting to lose 25kg (55lbs) and what I was left with was the vast majority of my muscle mass intact, but with a very low body fat percentage and a ripped up physique. So, everything I was lead to believe about cardio and dieting eating into my gains was a myth! I was physically trying my best to lose weight for running and triathlon and I just couldn’t lose the muscle!
People – muscle is incredibly difficult to lose – take it from someone that’s tried!
So the first thing anyone reading this needs to is have faith in the cardio and don’t change your weight lifting routine. If you’re confident you’re lifting routine is working, then keep doing what you’re doing. Add cardio in around it at a time that accommodates you.
It’s fine to work out twice a day. I train up to three times a day as a triathlete, and I’ve never felt better or had more energy. You can easily balance a morning cardio session with an afternoon/evening weight lifting session. Yes it might involve hard work and dedication – but if you’re not willing to commit then enjoy being the guy in the gym with big arms and chest, tiny legs and a gut.
What type of cardio should I do? Remember, you’re not training for the 10,000 meters Olympic gold medal – your goal here is to shred some unsightly fat and increase your cardiovascular output. You want to mainly keep your cardio sessions aerobic, which means you’re taking things easy and not struggling for breath. Gym bike would be my personal preference here – a great way to burn fat without burning your CNS. Establish a pace that allows your breathing to raise to a level that makes talking manageable but you’re still breaking a good sweat. You can also try out the cross fit machine and some light jogging. Spin classes are also an excellent way to shred fat and keep things interesting – you can manage your own difficulty in these sessions so give them a go – lycra not required!
How long should my cardio sessions be? As with anything new, start small and build up slowly. If you’re training on a gym bike, an hour session of easy cardio is a great way to burn calories and shred fat. Other types of cardio, you need to work within your comfort zone – you need to set realistic goals, match them and then aim to increase them over time.
In summary a sensible cardio program that you can build into your routine on a long terms basis will pay off in terms of a ripped, lean physique and will actually improve your ability to lift some devastating weight. You will become a machine – capable of chasing down your prey and overpowering it simultaneously. You will look good in the gym and on the beach, and sucking your gut in will be a thing of the past.
Just take things slow and work to your own abilities and current limitations and build from there. Seek professional advice if you feel you need to and above all else ENJOY!
If you have any questions or comments please let me know. Any requests for the future give me a shout. Check out my other stuff, subscribe and show some love. Kalclash.