Maximizing Gains: The Truth About Cardio When Bulking Up

The topic of cardio and bulking is a common debate among fitness enthusiasts. Some swear by incorporating cardiovascular activities into their bulking routine, while others believe it will hinder muscle gains. So, if you’re currently in the midst of a bulking phase, you may be wondering, “Should I do cardio if I’m bulking?” In this article, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of doing cardio while trying to build muscle mass, helping you make an informed decision on whether cardio has a place in your bulking journey.

The Benefits of Cardio During Bulking

Cardio is often associated with cutting or weight loss, but it also has numerous benefits when incorporated into a bulking routine. While the primary goal of bulking is to build muscle mass, neglecting cardiovascular exercise can hinder overall progress and lead to a less efficient bulk. Here are just some of the benefits of including cardio in your bulking routine:

Improved Cardiovascular Health

First and foremost, cardio exercises are essential for maintaining good cardiovascular health. This type of exercise strengthens your heart and lungs, improving their efficiency in delivering oxygen and nutrients to your working muscles. By including cardio in your bulking routine, you not only support your body’s overall health but also ensure that your muscles receive adequate oxygen during workouts.

Better Nutrient Uptake

Having a strong cardiovascular system not only helps deliver nutrients to your muscles but also aids in their uptake. A healthy blood flow caused by regular cardio exercises allows for better absorption of essential nutrients such as protein, which is crucial for muscle growth during a bulk. Without sufficient nutrient uptake, your efforts in the gym may go to waste as the muscles won’t have enough fuel to build and repair.

Increased Endurance

Building endurance is crucial for longer and more intense workouts during bulking. By engaging in regular cardio exercises, you can improve your stamina and push yourself harder during strength training sessions. This will help you add more volume to your workouts and ultimately lead to greater muscle gains.

Reduced Fat Gain

While being in a caloric surplus (consuming more calories than you burn) is necessary for bulking, it’s still important to keep fat gain under control. Incorporating cardio into your routine can help with this by increasing the number of calories you burn overall. This means that even though you may be consuming more calories, you can still maintain a leaner physique.

Better Muscle Definition

A common concern during bulking is losing muscle definition due to the increase in body fat. However, by including cardio in your routine, you can boost your metabolism and accelerate fat loss while still building muscle. This will help you maintain a leaner appearance and show off your gains even during a bulk.

Types of Cardio for Bulking

Now that we’ve established the benefits of doing cardio while bulking, the next step is to determine which types of cardio are best suited for this goal. Here are a few options to consider:

Low-Intensity Steady-State (LISS) Cardio

As the name suggests, LISS cardio involves performing low-intensity exercises at a steady pace. This type of cardio is great for improving endurance and boosting overall cardiovascular health without placing too much strain on the body. Examples include walking, jogging, or biking at a moderate pace.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest or less intense exercise. This type of training has been shown to increase calorie burn and improve muscle growth due to its ability to stimulate anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone. Examples of HIIT exercises include sprints, timed circuits, and plyometrics.

Add Cardio Into Your Routine

Now that you know the benefits and different types of cardio for bulking, it’s time to incorporate it into your routine. Here are some tips for doing so effectively:

Choose the Right Frequency

The frequency of your cardio sessions will depend on factors such as your fitness level and goals. For beginners, 2-3 sessions per week may be sufficient while more experienced individuals may benefit from 3-4 sessions. It’s important not to overdo it, as too much cardio can hinder muscle growth.

Time Cardio Wisely

The timing of your cardio sessions can also impact your results. For best results, schedule your cardio workouts away from strength training sessions. This will help you avoid fatigue during weightlifting and allow for proper muscle recovery.

Mix It Up

Variety is key when it comes to cardio. Not only will switching up exercises prevent boredom but also challenge your body and stimulate better results. Experiment with different types of cardio, durations, and intensity levels to find what works best for you.

Incorporating cardio into your bulking routine has numerous benefits such as improved cardiovascular health, better nutrient uptake, increased endurance, reduced fat gain, and improved muscle definition. By choosing the right type of cardio and scheduling it appropriately, you can support your bulking goals and achieve overall better fitness results. Remember to listen to your body and adjust the frequency and intensity of your cardio sessions as needed. Now go out there and create a well-rounded bulking routine that includes both strength training and cardio!

What is Cardio and Why is it Important for Bulking

Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, refers to any type of physical activity that elevates your heart rate and strengthens your heart and lungs. This includes activities such as running, cycling, swimming, and even brisk walking. While cardio may be commonly associated with weight loss or improving overall health, it can also play a vital role in a bulking phase for those looking to increase muscle mass.

One of the main reasons why cardio is important for bulking is its impact on your cardiovascular system. When you engage in regular cardio exercises, you are strengthening your heart and improving its efficiency. This means that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood through your body during intense weightlifting sessions. As a result, you can lift heavier weights for longer periods of time without experiencing fatigue.

But beyond just improving your cardiovascular health, cardio can also have direct benefits on muscle growth. First off, it helps improve blood flow throughout the body, delivering essential oxygen and nutrients to your muscles at a faster rate. This can aid in muscle recovery and repair after strenuous weightlifting sessions. Additionally, cardio exercises that involve large muscle groups (like running or cycling) can actually stimulate muscle growth in those areas.

The Benefits of Doing Cardio While Bulking

In addition to its impact on muscle growth and overall health, there are several other benefits to incorporating cardio into your bulking routine:

1. Maintains Muscle Definition: While bulking involves increasing overall body mass and putting on extra weight, doing too much of this without any form of cardiovascular exercise can result in an increase in body fat percentage. Incorporating cardio into your routine can help maintain muscle definition by burning excess calories and keeping body fat levels in check.

2. Improves Endurance: With cardio training comes improved endurance. This means that you’ll be able to lift weights for longer periods of time and do more repetitions without feeling excessively fatigued. Improved endurance can also help you push through plateaus and continue making progress in your muscle-building journey.

3. Increases Appetite: When you are trying to bulk up, your body needs a surplus of calories to fuel muscle growth. However, sometimes it can be challenging to consume enough food to meet this caloric surplus. Engaging in moderate-intensity cardio exercises can increase your appetite and help you meet your daily caloric requirements for bulking.

4. Promotes Overall Health: While bulking is typically associated with weightlifting and building muscle mass, it’s important not to neglect other aspects of your health. Cardio exercises can improve heart health, strengthen bones, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

How Much Cardio Should You Do While Bulking

The optimal amount of cardio you should do while bulking will depend on several factors such as your individual goals, body type, fitness level, and overall health status. As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended that you engage in 20-30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio 3-4 times a week while bulking.

However, this recommendation may vary depending on your specific goals. If you are looking to primarily build muscle mass and don’t want to risk losing any gains from weightlifting sessions, then lower intensity forms of cardio like walking or light cycling may be ideal. On the other hand, if overall cardiovascular health is a primary concern for you, then engaging in longer durations or higher intensities of cardio may be necessary.

It’s important to note that too much cardio can interfere with muscle growth, so it’s crucial to find the right balance that works best for your goals and body type.

Tips for Incorporating Cardio into Your Bulking Routine

1. Schedule Cardio on Non-Weightlifting Days: Since excessive cardio can interfere with muscle growth, it’s best to do it on days when you aren’t lifting weights. This way, your muscles have enough time to recover and repair without any additional stress.

2. Mix Up Your Cardio Exercises: Doing the same cardio workout day in and day out can get boring quickly. Plus, your body can become accustomed to the same routine, reducing its effectiveness. Try incorporating a variety of cardio exercises into your routine to challenge your body and avoid boredom.

3. Use HIIT for Maximum Efficiency: High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves short bursts of intense activity followed by periods of rest or low-intensity activity. HIIT can help you burn calories in a shorter amount of time compared to traditional cardio exercises like jogging or cycling.

4. Make Sure to Fuel Up Before and After Your Cardio Workouts: Your body needs fuel to perform cardio exercises effectively. Before embarking on a cardio session, make sure you have eaten a balanced meal or snack containing carbohydrates and protein. Afterward, make sure to replenish your energy stores with another nutritious meal.

Is Cardio Necessary for Bulking?

While the benefits of incorporating cardio into your bulking routine are clear, it

1. Should I do cardio while bulking up?
Cardio can be beneficial when bulking, but it should be done in moderation to avoid burning excess calories and hindering muscle growth.

2. Will cardio hinder my muscle gains while bulking?
If done excessively, cardio can potentially hinder muscle growth by burning more calories than necessary. However, incorporating small amounts of low-intensity cardio can improve cardiovascular health without significantly impacting muscle gains.

3. How often should I do cardio while bulking?
The frequency of cardio sessions during a bulk depends on individual goals and preferences. Generally, 2-3 low-intensity sessions per week are recommended to maintain cardiovascular health without sacrificing muscle mass.

4. Is high-intensity or low-intensity cardio better for bulking?
Low-intensity steady-state (LISS) cardio is more suitable for those looking to bulk as it is less taxing on the body and therefore has a lower risk of burning excess calories. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) should be used sparingly as it can burn significant amounts of energy that are needed for muscle growth.

5. When is the best time to do cardio while bulking?
It is recommended to perform cardio after weightlifting sessions as it allows the body to focus on building and repairing muscles first. This also helps prevent too much energy being expended on cardio before weightlifting.

6. Can I replace weightlifting with just doing more cardio while bulking?
No, weightlifting is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass while bulking. Without strength training, the body will not have a sufficient stimulus for muscle growth, which can lead to loss of muscle mass even with increased amounts of cardio.

In conclusion, the question of whether one should do cardio while bulking is a complex and highly debated topic in the fitness community. After examining the various factors and considerations involved, we can come to a few key takeaways:

Firstly, the decision to do cardio while bulking ultimately depends on an individual’s specific goals and body composition. Those who are looking to gain size and mass may find that incorporating some low-intensity cardio can actually aid in their progress by improving overall cardiovascular health and promoting better recovery.

On the other hand, those who are already carrying excess body fat may benefit from incorporating more intense cardio work to help burn off excess fat while still maintaining muscle mass.

Secondly, it is important to consider that doing too much cardio while bulking can negatively impact muscle growth by burning off excess calories needed for building muscle. Therefore, it is important to find a balance and not overdo it with excessive amounts of cardio.

Furthermore, incorporating HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) into a bulking routine can be a great compromise as it allows for both muscle-building efforts and fat-burning benefits in shorter amounts of time.

It is also important to note that diet plays a crucial role in determining the success of a bulk. If one’s calorie intake is properly adjusted

Author Profile

Jeff Duncan
Jeff Duncan, the owner and Head Coach of CrossFit Pearl District, is dedicated to fostering a supportive and effective training environment.

With a strong belief in the principles of movement mechanics, consistency, and intensity, Jeff has cultivated a community that thrives on continuous improvement and mutual support.

From 2024, Jeff Duncan has expanded his passion for CrossFit beyond coaching by writing an informative blog dedicated to the CrossFit niche. His blog features a variety of content aimed at providing valuable information and insights to the CrossFit community.

Jeff’s posts cover a wide range of topics including training techniques, nutrition advice, workout routines, and answers to common queries within the niche. This transition to blogging allows Jeff to reach a broader audience, sharing his expertise and helping individuals at all levels of their fitness journey.