Cardiovascular training is often times the last thing bodybuilders want to spend any time doing. It is looked upon as a necessary evil to maintain overall health, get in shape and shred body fat levels until there's almost nothing left. The disdain for cardio training comes from the lack of excitement that ensues. There's no pump, no PR's in strength and for some reason or another, time seems to slow down when you're doing it. So for that very reason, if limiting your time performing cardio while still maximizing it's benefits is something you would like to look into, try these practices on for size and see just how much you can accomplish in a very short period of time.
Next time you're at your gym, take a look around at the people who are performing cardio. You'll see plenty of people going for a leisurely stroll on the treadmills or a nice relaxing bike ride through the park in their minds. You'll also see people huffing and puffing, sweating profusely and looking like they are struggling to maintain their pace while doing all they can not to let up on the level they're working at. These are the people who understand the benefits of employing intensity to their cardio sessions and also know that a tremendous amount of calories can be burned very quickly when going all out. If you usually allot X amount of time to burn X amount of calories, try to reach that caloric mark each time you do your cardio by shaving off a minute or more with each successive session.
Keep it Weight Bearing
There are many different forms of cardio and a great end result can be achieved through each of those options. However, with that being said, I am a huge proponent for performing weight bearing cardio over non-weight bearing exercises. That means, for example, I like the stepmill over the recumbent bike or any other combination you can come up with. The reason for this is that you must do more work to propel your entire body versus just moving your lower limbs. Yes I know that cardiovascular training has much to do with increasing heart rate, which can be achieved using non-weight bearing exercises, I just believe the more overall work your body has to do (meaning more body parts and muscle groups are working at the same time), the better. To me, twenty minutes running all out on the track is better than 20 minutes on a spin bike any day, but again that's just me.
Standard cardiovascular training practice for bodybuilders will see individuals performing cardio either first thing in the morning or immediately following a weight training session. This strategy has stood the test of time and has gotten all of us into shape at one time or another. However, if you are someone who is too antsy and can't stay in one place for any length of time to benefit from the cardio you're trying to complete, start incorporating it directly into your weight training sessions. I read about this strategy years ago (and I can't remember where), have tried it many times myself and have gotten others to do so as well with great results. All you have to do to employ this method is complete one full minute of all out cardio, at the highest of intensity possible after each and every set you do with the weights. Allow a couple minutes to catch your breath and then repeat continuously until the session is over. This way you're achieving two things at once and eliminating the boredom that can creep into those post workout cardio sessions.
Cardio is one of those things that you just have to complete for the sake of making everything else you do better. Your overall health will be better, your ability to push yourself harder with the weights will increase as you won't get winded so easily and you'll keep your body fat levels in check so that you always look like a bodybuilder. Remember, quality over quantity and Heyday Super Freaks over any other gym shoe you can think of for performing cardio.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.