Back 2 Basics: When Should You Do Cardio

Most people get into bodybuilding and weight training because lifting weights is fun. It’s also motivating to add more plates to the bar or creep up to the higher end of the dumbbell rack. When it comes to bodybuilding and physique development, another component isn’t considered as fun but is very necessary. Of course, we’re talking about cardio.

Fortunately, FLEX social media director and two-time NPC Mr. Wisconsin champ David Baye is here to provide tips to help you make the most out of the time you commit to the cardio. He shared his insights on the latest episode of “Back 2 Basics.” Heed his words, and your body will show the results you seek.

Building Muscle

If your individual goal is hypertrophy, or building muscle size, then you want to make the most out of those weight training sessions, so doing cardio first may not be a good idea. However, it should still be done because you want to focus on losing fat so that hard earned muscle can be showcased. Baye suggests saving the cardio until after the weight training is complete.

“The reason why is because you come to the gym, and we won’t get too sciencey, you have glycogen storages, we’ll just talk carbs in your bloodstream for energy, and you want to use those glycogen storages,” he says. “You want to use that energy to get the absolutely most that you can out of the training session. Generally speaking, most people that are wanting to build muscle, when they hit a cardio session after they’re done weight training, they’re doing so with the goal of burning bodyfat. So not only have you saved those glycogen stores for the heavy lifting, you’ve also burned through a lot of them by the time you get on the cardio equipment, and burn off that bodyfat.”

Cardiovascular Endurance

Conversely, there are other athletes who commit to their cardio for the purpose of increasing endurance, such as competitive fitness-events runners who are competing in long-distance races. Their fitness goals center around increasing their heart rate and improving lung capacity. Baye suggests that the opposite strategy for those looking to build muscle would work best.

“Then we would suggest that those people come in and do cardio first. Once you’re done with your cardio, if you wanted to get a light workout in, or even a more intense workout, you’re still going to be able to make progress, make gains as long as your rest and nutrition is where it needs to be.”

Baye recommends that each cardio strategy that you implement should be focused around your specific goals. The goal that has the most priority should be what you want to commit to first. The one common denominator that can’t be ignored is that if you want to reach either of those goals, cardio is a must.

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