Cardio is not a very popular word in the average bodybuilder’s dictionary. For those folk who enthrone muscle gain above all else, cardio is perceived as a distracter; an activity that leads away from the end goal. It is viewed as an exercise that is only meant to be performed by those people who are looking to lose weight.
The process of muscle gain, however, is impossible, without a little fat gain. It is how we are designed biologically. Cardio is the activity that is meant to burn any fat gained. Strength training helps give the muscles mass and tone. Cardio, on the other hand, helps peel away the layer of fat above said muscles so they can be more visible. In essence, cardio is the catalyst that helps differentiate the physique of the bulky bodybuilder, and that of the aesthetic bodybuilder.
Types of Cardio
There are broadly two types of cardio:
Low intensity cardio is the type where a modestly demanding activity is sustained over a long period of time. It includes walking, jogging, stationery biking and so on.
High intensity cardio, on the other hand, is where a greatly demanding activity is performed over a short time. It is greatly involving, and thus cannot be sustained for very long. A fine example is sprinting.
In both these types, the heart muscle is involved. In low intensity cardio, the rate is higher than normal, and remains constantly elevated throughout the activity. In high intensity, the rate rises to a near maximum, and thus cannot be continued for long periods.
Which Type Is For You?
Regardless of what has been said before, both types of cardio are good for you.
If you are out to lose weight, low intensity cardio is more desirable. It is easier and can be done for a relatively long time.
However, high intensity cardio should not be eschewed. It has been demonstrated that high intensity cardio is actually very effective in initiating fat loss. Since the heart is put through a lot of stress, metabolism is greatly increased, and fat breakdown reaches an all time high.
The Best of Both Worlds
The ideal, for a bodybuilder, is to embrace both types and incorporate them into their routine. High intensity intermittent cardio is one derivative from both. It involves short sessions of intense exercise, followed by a less intensive exercise to lower the heart rate. This is again followed by the intense exercise, and so on. This HIIT is preferred by many bodybuilders since it offers the best of both worlds.
High intensity cardio is great for fat loss for a bodybuilder who wants their physique to be more aesthetic. It is demanding but quick. However, low intensity cardio should be done to test the limits of your endurance, and to round off your fitness. There is much to be gained from both types cardio; more than can adequately be captured here.
Ultimately though, the best form of cardio is the one that works best for you, and helps you reach your goals faster.
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