Weightlifting is one of the core parts of building muscle, but what about cardio? If you start a running regimen as part of your bodybuilding training, will it hurt your gains? There are plenty of misconceptions about cardio and muscle growth. Here’s what you need to know and maybe why it might be a good idea to mix in some cardio while wearing your bodybuilding clothes.
Will Cardio Change How Your Bodybuilding Clothes Fit?
Many bodybuilders believe that cardio exercises will burn muscles. They say that cardio breaks down the very proteins which make up muscles. This is partially true but a little misleading. What really matters is staying on top of your nutrition. If you eat right and train well, cardio won’t make you lose muscle and can provide a variety of other benefits.
Can You Rely on Cardio Instead of Resistance Training?
Unfortunately, you can’t throw on your stringer tank tops, go for a run, and hope to get gains. Cardio without resistance training is focused on burning calories and improving your cardiovascular system. Instead, use cardio to supplement weightlifting. Consider including low-intensity steady-state cardio a few times per week if you’re on a cut or HIIT workouts if you want to put your heart and lungs to the test.
The Problems with Too Much Cardio
Too much cardio, especially running, can burn more muscle than it builds. It might also make you more fatigued than other exercises, which might interfere with the rest of your workout regimen. When incorporating running into your routine, be sure to schedule plenty of rest and recovery time and avoid doing it the same day as lifting.
Don’t Treat Cardio As a Crash Diet
Too many people treat cardio as a crash diet to get quick results. Maybe they just want to fit into smaller bodybuilding clothes or compete in a different weight class. The problem is that dedicating a whole week or month to just cardio might hurt your primary goal—building lean muscle mass. Instead, cardio should be a supplemental tool. Adjusting your calorie intake and macros is the way to go if you want to lean up.
Give Yourself Enough Rest and Recovery Time
You are probably watching your diet, lifting weights, and doing cardio. It can be hard to reach your muscle goal if you aren’t giving yourself adequate rest time. Time out of your bodybuilding clothes is just as important as time sweating through them in the gym. Your body needs time to recover from your training sessions. Over-training can halt or start to undo the progress you have worked so hard for.
How Cardio Can Work with Strength Training
You might slow muscle growth if you incorrectly combine cardio and resistance training. It also lowers the anabolic effects of resistance training. You will want to prioritize low-impact cardio when combined with strength training. This means more cycling and rowing and less running. You should have separate schedules for resistance training and cardio. Each cardio workout should be no more than 45 minutes long.
Exercises to Try
When it comes to cardio, there isn’t one exercise that’s better than another. It all comes down to choosing an exercise you enjoy well enough to do it consistently. For lifters, consider implementing low-impact steady state exercises into your routine. This includes incline walking on the treadmill, cycling, rowing, or light jogging. If you’ve decided you want to shift focus and boost your cardiovascular system, try HIIT workouts that elevate your heart rate for short periods.
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