As if we didn’t spend enough time in the gym already – now we have to add on more time for cardio? Huh? Yep, that’s right guys (and gals), most of you will never get a physique that will win a competition without it. The reason? You have got to be LEAN! You see that I said “most of you” – that means there are actually people out there who can get muscular and ripped without doing cardio. But those lucky people are few and far between. The rest of us are doomed to do cardio.
Mike Hajoway wrote an article a few years ago on this subject that I think is worth rehashing here. He does a much better job at explaining why you need to incorporate cardio into your workouts. Following is an except from that article:
Cardio For Bodybuilders
Sorry guys, but to be a champion in contemporary bodybuilding, one must do cardio. Cardio was not that important back in 1970s and 80s, but it is today. In the early 80′s, the average Olympian competitor weighed in around 190 pounds. Today, that figure is over 220. Athletes are not only bigger and more massive, but they also sharper and harder. A prime example is Frank Zane. When Zane competed he was tight, but he competed less than 180 pounds. Try coming in that tight at 225. Twenty years ago, it was about being big and cut. Today, you must be huge and shredded.
Yet, I am often asked how beneficial is cardio to bodybuilders, whose goal is build, shape, and define muscle mass. Most athletes, who have very high cardiovascular endurance such as swimmers and marathon runners, do not display big, full, and shapely muscle due to the fact that they use muscle mass as a fuel source. So do the same principles that apply to long distance runners apply to bodybuilders and what kind of cardio program should a bodybuilder include in his or her training?
If building muscle were the only facet of a bodybuilder’s training, the ideal amount of cardio for a bodybuilder would probably be zero because the more cardio/aerobic exercise that you do, the more muscle tissue your body starts to use for energy after it becomes depleted of fat and glycogen. Yet bodybuilding is a sport that not only factors muscle mass into being a champion, but also how lean he or she is. Some people can simply lower their caloric intake through dieting and get ripped without doing any type of cardiovascular exercise.
For the rest of us who have to work our tails off on cardio equipment, cardiovascular training is necessary to achieve a lean and ripped physique. Nonetheless cardio is beneficial for not only losing weight and becoming ripped, but also it is most importantly a great tool in building the heart, which is obviously the most important muscle in the human body. Here are a couple answers to cardio related questions that will help you develop an optimal cardiovascular training program. Source
When starting to add in cardio as part of your bodybuilding routine, you should do it after your workout and not before. Doing it prior to your workout will deplete your energy which means you won’t be able to lift the weight necessary to build big muscles. Also, when possible, do it first thing in the morning before eating. That way you’re sure to be burning stored fat and not the meal you just ate!