Building more muscle is smart for a lot of reasons. First, it just looks good to have a well-muscled, toned body. Also, having stronger muscles reduces your chances of incurring serious injuries. And, there is an added health benefit: the more muscular you are, the faster your body will burn fat naturally. That is because your resting metabolism rate – the rate at which you burn calories while at rest – actually increases when you have a lower body fat percentage.
People who have experience with working out with both weights and with cardio techniques (e.g., walking, jogging, swimming, biking, etc.) know that it can be hard to balance both within a regular workout routine. In other words: to really “go intense” with a cardio workout can take away from the energy and muscle strength you need for an intense bodybuilding workout – and vice versa.
Even if your primary goal is to build muscle while staying at least in fairly good shape from a cardio perspective, you still may be at a loss for just how much cardio to work into your weekly workout routine.
If you are wondering, “How much cardio is needed when building muscle?”, here are 5 tips for optimizing cardio in your workouts:
1. Too much cardio can detract from your muscle-building goals:
While everybody is different, in general doing too much cardio each week can take away from your ability to build muscle at the maximum rate. This is because doing a lot of running, swimming, biking, etc. between workouts can deplete the muscle energy that you would otherwise be devoting to doing strength-building exercises.
2. But some cardio is a good idea:
Still, even if your only real goal is to build bigger muscles, doing some cardio is a good idea. For example, cardio can help you to keep from getting winded during your weightlifting workouts, and it can also help to increase blood flow to your muscles.
3. Do cardio 2 or 3 times per week for about 20 minutes:
By doing cardio exercises not more than 2-3 times per week for about 20 minutes at a time, you should be able to get enough exercise in to work your heart and burn some calories in a healthy way.
4. You will eventually want to choose to focus on either cardio or weight training:
Of course, if down the road you believe that you will want to really focus on getting into shape on the cardio side of things – such as when you are gearing up for a marathon – you will likely need to scale back on your weight workouts. It is difficult for anybody to really focus with maximum intensity on both types of exercises for long periods of time.
5. Pay attention to the needs of your body:
Remember, no matter what you read here or anywhere else, be sure to continue to listen to the needs of your body. Each person’s body is unique and it has its own wisdom. Listen to what your body is telling you in order to maximize your workouts for desired results.
Take these 5 tips into account as you focus on getting the balance right between cardio and doing strength-building exercises to build more muscle.