How to Effectively Employ the Timing of your Cardio to Build Muscle
There has been much debate about when cardiovascular exercise should be performed when muscular gain is at the heart of the effort. The last thing any bodybuilder wants to do is have their cardio work interfere with the process of hypertrophy. In many instances, this fear of muscle wasting creates a mindset that cardio will cause harm when in fact, performing it at the right times will improve your performance with the weights, elevate your abilities to train harder and keep you hard and lean all throughout the year. If you are struggling with where to insert your cardio training, consider trying any or all of the following strategies so that you can keep building muscle and benefit from all that comes from cardiovascular conditioning.
Keep it Separate
In many instances, weight training and cardiovascular conditioning follow one another in the same session. The thought process behind this does makes sense; weight train first using up all of your calories from food and then burn fat on the stepmill once the weight training session has been completed. Unfortunately though, if gaining and subsequently maintaining muscle mass is a difficult process for you, I highly suggest you stop doing cardio after the weights and instead go home, eat and perform the cardio at another time in the day.
My favorite time of the day to perform cardio is on an empty stomach (relatively speaking) first thing in the morning. I say relatively speaking because even though this session will be performed before I’ve had any food to eat, I’ll sip on some amino acids so that my body doesn’t look for energy from the muscle tissue. Instead, stored energy in the form of fat will provide the energy needed to perform the cardio session and the aminos will support the maintenance of the muscle tissue I’m currently holding. By doing this, you’ll be shredding fat with no worries about losing muscle and having atrophy set in.
Another favorite time for many bodybuilders to complete a session of cardio is late night and right before their last meal of the day. Many times people will make the mistake of performing cardio after they’ve had their last meal of the day but that’s a recipe for disaster if building and maintaining muscle is a priority. What you want to do instead is do your cardio and have it finished about an hour before you go to bed. Within that hour you can get cleaned up, have some time to unwind and then have your final meal of the day which should only be comprised of protein or a protein and a healthy fat source. This final cardio session will burn up any unused calories from the day so that they don’t end up getting stored as fat and the final meal will go towards supporting hypertrophy from the weight training you performed earlier on.
Those who choose to compete and display their hard earned physiques on stage will know this scenario all too well; going to the gym three times a day. Yes that’s right, many people adhere to all three strategies which will see them spending countless hours in the gym getting contest ready. If this is your life then you should try to ease the stress of it all at least a little bit by investing in footwear that will keep your feet healthy and feeling great while performing all of that cardio. Heyday Footwear’s line of Super Freak Hightop Cardio Sneakers are second to none for performance and comfort and when worn, will significantly contribute to your cardiovascular training efforts.
Building muscle and cardio conditioning can go hand in hand; you just have to when to utilize both so that they work harmoniously together for the greater cause. Keep the sessions separate, find additional time in your day to fit in another workout(s) and always remember; it’s not hype, it’s Heyday!
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.