Cardio while bulking is the question that will always start a huge fight in the bodybuilding community.
Some say it ruins your gains, some say it helps.
Let’s talk about cardio while bulking- and why it’s actually something you should be doing.
Why Cardio While Bulking Is So Beneficial
Cardio while bulking is literally like the hidden treasure of bodybuilding.
But the thing is- most people don’t do it just because it’s difficult.
Which I don’t understand! We somehow bring ourselves to sit in a weight room for 2 hours a day pushing our bodies to its’ limit, then we refuse to dare spend even 30 minutes running in place.
I think most people realize cardio while bulking is really good. It makes you hit personal records when weightlifting, makes your heart (and you) healthier, builds more muscle, and more.
Let’s cover all of it!
Helps You Hit PRs
This is something many bodybuilders don’t understand. Doing cardio while bulking can help you hit PRs.
A PR in weight-lifting is when you lift a higher amount of weight than you’ve ever been able to. This would mean, for instance, deadlifting 400 lbs at one rep instead of 390 lbs- which was your previous one rep max.
Doing cardio can actually help you hit these personal records- and this is something many people fail to actually recognize.
I’ll go more in-depth in the makes your heart healthier section- but I’ll give a simple explanation now.
Building Your Cardiovascular System Allows You To Hit a Higher PR
So when you do cardio, it builds your cardiovascular system. This leads to your heart being able to pump more blood and be more effective.
Many people don’t realize this- but when you’re trying to hit a personal record it taxes your cardiovascular system immensely.
Having your cardiovascular system stronger will help you be able to pull that weight because your body will be more effective at the blood transfer throughout your body.
This can be CRITICAL in the seconds it takes when you’re getting to lift that weight off the ground.
Imagine you’re squatting, as you hit the bottom, you fail the rep.
When you strengthen your cardiovascular system- you’re strengthening your heart’s ability to pump that blood when you need it the most.
You reach the bottom, you are straining as hard as you can, your heart is fighting desperately to power your muscles across your whole body- and that cardio you’ve been doing finally saves you.
Boosting your heart’s efficiency can be noticed really quick actually. Just a few simple runs can transform your gym sessions.
Makes Your Gym Sessions Better
The bottom line is this- when you’re working out, your heart is pumping faster and harder.
Yes- I know even though you’re just ‘lifting weights’ it ‘shouldn’t matter much’- but it does. It’s one of the things not recognized in weight lifting.
During that 1-2 hour gym session, your heart has to work super hard to keep your muscles full of nutrient filled blood to keep you pushing.
Simply put, working out your cardiovascular system will make you stronger. Cardio while bulking is a simple way to do this.
How Does Cardio While Bulking Build Your Heart?
This was something that I’ve been preaching for a while- but many people don’t understand.
When you decide to do cardio while bulking, your heart is able to recover faster! This means you’re able to accelerate the growth!
The Golden Rule of Bodybuilding: Bulk To Gain Muscle, Cut to Lose Fat
It’s been the golden rule of bodybuilding since forever. You need to bulk to gain muscle, and you need to lose weight to lose the fatl.
You can’t gain muscle on a calorie deficit, you have to be bulking.
There isn’t much science about this yet. So some of this will be broscience, some fact. But I’m going to be honest- I’m just telling you how it is.
It’s Easier For Your Heart To Grow When Bulking
Think about it. If you can’t grow normal muscle in a caloric deficit- why assume that your heart is able to grow in the same conditions as well?
If the heart does not have a caloric surplus nor the nutrients to grow, how can it grow? It’s unwise to assume it can!
Simply put- sure, the heart is an organ that will place the nutrients above all. So likely, it can grow.
But not at the efficiency you were if you were doing cardio while bulking. If your body has that 500 calorie surplus to work with along with proper and critical nutrients like proteins and fats.
There is Some Science To Back This Up!
In 2007, The American Heart Association released an article stating ‘exercise increased the growth of new muscle cells and blood vessels in the weakened muscles of people with heart failure, according to two new studies.’
This study talks about something called ‘progenitor cells’. These progenitor cells are located in the skeletal muscle that can divide into cells needed for muscle repair.
They found that in this study- the participants that were exercising had a 109% increase in progenitor cells.
I’m not kidding! A 109% increase in the cells that are repairing your heart muscle.
And to be clear- this study was done on people with heart failure. So their hearts were already damaged severely.
If this is possible with people with hearts close to their final beat- it is more than possible for the average healthy adult reading this.
More Reasons To Do Cardio While Bulking
Makes You Recover Faster and Grow Muscle Faster
If you’ve read my rich piana feeder workout post, you already know what I’m talking about.
Rich Piana does a ‘feeder’ workout scheme where you overload certain muscles before bed.
This is scientifically proven to actually put on more muscle, and many people do it to this today.
It’s the same thing here. When you’re doing cardio, more blood is flowing to your muscles, allowing more nutrients to be absorbed by your muscles.
This leads to faster recovery, better recovery, and better muscle gains.
Makes Your Heart Healthier
It’s no secret that your heart gets healthier when you do cardio.
Every single website that is medically credible will tell you that regular cardio will help your cardiovascular system out immensely.
Don’t skip on it- your heart is literally one of your most important organs. You CANNOT live without it.
Makes Your Overall Physique Better
Doing cardio while bulking is proven to make your overall physique better.
With more caloric demand, you can eat more and put on less fat. This also leaves open room for your muscles to grow better and grow bigger.
A huge thing people don’t talk about with cardio is that cardio actually works out a lot of muscles in your body.
This means by doing cardio, you are ‘effectively’ overloading all of your muscles at once.
So the muscles you’ve already trained for the day are getting a boost, and the other muscles in your body like traps or hips are also getting a big boost in growth as well.
Builds More Muscle
I hate, hate, HATE, that there is this misconception that working out lowers the amount of muscle you grow. It’s simply wrong and has been proven wrong many times.
I talked about this in my article- Does Cardio Kill Gains?
The bottom line is this- cardio doesn’t even impact your gains. It only ruins people’s gains because they don’t eat enough with it.
This means if you’re doing cardio while bulking, you just have to eat more. It’s that simple!
Furthermore, in many studies like one from Dr.Matthew Harber states that people that regularly did cardio had seen a 5%+ increase in muscle mass than the group who didn’t regularly do cardio.
And this isn’t even talking about the fact that you are giving your body more fuel. If you’re adding 500 calories a day to your body’s fuel consumption (that will not be adding fat, mind you) you’re giving the muscle more nutrients to work with.
It’s like giving construction workers that are building a house more wood. If they run out of wood, there’s nothing that they can do. While it’s true muscle can only grow so fast- if the workers don’t have enough wood they can’t do anything.
Don’t let your muscles not have enough protein. And giving more carbs/fats/proteins will ensure your muscles are always sated and rebuilding.
Allows You To Eat More
This is a simple one people forget.
Cardio while bulking allows you to eat more. This staves off a lot of the fat you might risk gaining while bulking and gives your muscles more fuel to work with.
My daily 60 minute runs allow me to get an extra 500-600 calories in. That’s a ton of ice-cream I get to enjoy with basically no remorse.
This is the same thing here. But many people look over the fact that it can add 30-40g of protein to your muscles that fuels its’ recovery more without putting on fat.
And most of us really don’t want to put on fat, so it works out in the end.
Makes Cutting Easier
I don’t think ANYONE likes cutting weight.
Sure- after you’ve been bulking for 8-12 months, it can be nice to go on a cut and not have to worry about eating so much.
But then after a few weeks, you’re going to hate the process again.
A key thing in EVERY cutting program such as Shortcut to Shred is doing cardio. And it’s simple why:
- The more cardio you do…
- Means more food you can eat…
- Which means you don’t go as insane.
But something that has happened to me and most bodybuilders when they first start a cut is getting their behind kicked by cardio.
This means you’ll spend a ton of time sweating horribly, feeling like you’re going to die, and more.
This can ALL be avoided by doing cardio while bulking. If you continue doing cardio while bulking, you will build up your cardiovascular endurance before you start the cut.
This means when it comes down to crunch time and you need to cut weight, cardio will be a piece of cake.
60-minute run? You will barely even be sweating by the end of it. It makes the cardio much more enjoyable, and much easier to actually do.
If you let cardio destroy you every time you start a cut- you’ll be less likely to actually do it. If you do cardio while bulking you will be ready to take on the world and continue the great habit of doing cardio.
It’s like putting your money in stocks. Sure, at first it might suck being out of a ton of money. But in the long run- it’s going to pay off.
There’s nothing that builds discipline more than getting out there and forcing you to do something that pushes you out of your comfort zone and builds you.
Cardio builds character- and cardio is tough. Nothing about cardio is easy. The people that have been running daily for years will say, yeah, it gets easier- but overall, it still sucks.
And I’m not going to sugar coat it either! Cardio sucks, it’s not fun. But there’s one thing for certain, it builds discipline.
If you’re able to do 60 minutes of cardio a day, or even do cardio regularly, you can seriously prepare yourself for other things in life.
An 8-hour shift coming up? Well, the 60 minutes of running earlier were way worse.
And if you’re able to get through 60 minutes of running, it will make you more likely to be able to have the discipline to stick through a hard weight lifting workout.
The bottom line is, cardio while bulking isn’t easy- but it makes everything else in life easier.
Rich Piana Recommends It
If you’ve watched any of rich piana’s videos, you’ll know he heavily recommends an hour of cardio every day. And he especially recommends cardio while bulking, he says it is KEY to getting big.
I try to do 60 minutes of cardio everyday. It’s really tough at first, but you’ll get used to it!
Do it everyday and not only will you see a ton of muscle gains- but slowly work up to it.
Even I could not hit 60 minutes of cardio on the first day, it took a long time to get there.
And if you get Shin Splints, read my guide to solve them it here!
How Can I Start Doing Cardio While Bulking?
To start doing cardio while bulking is very easy. Many programs try to complicate this and add random HIIT/LISS/whatever schemes.
The truth is- any cardio works.
I always recommend a 60-minute run daily. It will definitely build character- and build you.
Rich Piana used to do 60 minutes of bicycling on the machine everyday! If I were you- find something you have fun doing.
Right now I run outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. It helps me not get infected or infect others, and is a great workout.
If you’re in a gym and like the elliptical, stay on that! If you’re in the gym and like the treadmill- do that.
Whatever you can do that you enjoy is great.
Making Cardio While Bulking Fun
I’m just going to list off a few ways to make cardio while bulking fun.
- Watch some TV or YouTube videos when doing your cardio.
- If you’re sitting on a bicycle or running on a machine- you can easily just place your phone on it and watch some TV or something while you relax. You could also get a machine set up in front of your TV at home, it’s a win-win!
- Think of the food you can eat.
- Doing this cardio can add 500-600 calories to your TDEE. That can add a yummy ice-cream pint, more yogurt, or even some things you could cook-off like Mozerella Sticks.
- Use it as a stress reliever.
- Many people hate cardio- I look forward to it. It’s really some of the only time I get to be on my own and think to myself a little bit.
- Get a friend involved.
- I started running with one of my buddies that is into medicine as well. I had never chilled with him before, but we had an awesome time running for an hour every day and talking about our career choices and paths.
Frequently Asked Questions
HIIT Cardio While Bulking
HIIT cardio while bulking is actually one of the best things you can do.
It’s no secret, HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is literally incredible for your body. For what it’s worth- I don’t think there’s anybody against it.
Here’s a simple HIIT workout if you’re unfamiliar:
HIIT Cardio While Bulking is incredible. It taxes your cardiovascular system incredibly hard and will boost your muscle growth.
Doing HIIT Cardio while bulking allows you to hit bigger PRs in the gym, get more muscle,
Fasted Cardio While Bulking?
Fasted cardio while bulking is something that everybody argues over in the bodybuilding community.
Some say the science says it does nothing, some says it does something.
But I think we can ALL agree, fasted cardio SUCKS.
I honestly kind of like it, because you know you can like binge the rest of the day and you have a ton of calories to look forward to- but I’m pretty fat so. (3% body fat by the way)
So let’s look at some of the science.
Jeff Nippard makes an excellent video talking about fasted cardio while cutting. But what about fasted cardio while bulking?
Cutting Brings Fat Loss- But Does Fasted Cardio?
Unfortunately, basically not. Hypothetically, you could be seeing a tiny bit of fat loss- but it would be so small it doesn’t really make a big difference.
But- I’d like to raise a point to do fasted cardio.
Doing fasted cardio while bulking will build your cardiovascular system. And before we go further- I think we can all agree that fasted cardio burns a little more fat to a tiny degree.
My point is- if you start a cut and start doing fasted cardio out of nowhere, you will feel horrible. You won’t be able to do it.
So if you do fasted cardio while bulking, you will be able to build a lot of stamina and discipline. This means when you inevitably go to your cut, you will be able to do more fasted cardio, therefore, resulting in more fat loss.
More Cardio = More Fat Loss, no?
To make it simpler, imagine you just started a cut right now. If you have barely done any cardio- you’re going to have a really bad time.
You might be able to only do 15-20 minutes of fasted cardio. After a few weeks/months, you’ll build that up. But you’re only able to burn maybe 50-100 calories right away.
If you had simply been doing the fasted cardio while bulking the whole time, you’ll be able to do maybe 60 minutes of fasted cardio right off the bat.
That can easily be 500-600 calories right away at the start of your cut cycle. Now- do you see where I’m going with this?
If you’re able to burn 4200 extra calories a week, that is more food you can eat, less muscle that decays, and overall more fat loss because you’re doing more fasted cardio.
Compare this to the week where you burned 600 calories that week and did little fasted cardio, you won’t see the same results.
So yes, do fasted cardio while bulking. It’s like buying a bond, it will pay off, just give it time.
Is Cardio Pointless When Bulking?
Many people ask, is cardio pointless when bulking? No!
Cardio is INCREDIBLE when bulking. Firstly, it allows you to eat more and eat more protein without putting on as much fat.
Secondly, it builds your heart and cardiovascular system- allowing you to hit PRs. You also put on more muscle. Thirdly, it builds discipline and character.
Cardio while bulking is critical to not only becoming shredded, but translates to other things in life too like being more disciplined.
Conditioning While Bulking
Conditioning while bulking is also a great thing to do.
Depending on your conditioning, it may even put on a ton of muscle.
While a lot of conditioning while bulking can consist of things like sprints, a lot of it can also be related to free weight training.
For instance- many conditioning circuits include using a dumbbell or weight plate to do things like tricep extensions or bicep curls.
Conditioning while bulking will lead to your muscle growing even more. Because remember- you cannot put on muscle while you are cutting.
If you are bulking, this means your conditioning will improve faster and you will get a better physique. This is not to mention the incredible cardiovascular health benefits you will receive from it!
Cardio Everyday When Bulking?
Many people ask about doing cardio every day when bulking. The truth is- it depends on what your goals are.
Rich Piana encouraged cardio every single day. And if you’re serious about competing- it may even be nessecary.
But realistically, you should be aiming to do cardio while bulking around 3-4 days a week. That gives ample time to properly recover and rest from the cardio the day before.
Can You Improve Cardio While Bulking?
Everybody after doing a few days of cardio wonders the same thing. Can you improve cardio while bulking?
Yes! And in fact, it’s way better than doing cardio on a cut. For some reason- there’s this old bodybuilding myth that you can’t improve cardio while bulking. This is completely incorrect.
Improving your cardio while bulking is way easier than improving your cardio on a cut.
Firstly, you’ll have more energy to do everything with. On a bulk, you’ll be in a better mood and have more energy to complete your cardio actions.
Secondly, you’ll be able to recover faster. This means your heart will build muscle and recover better. Your muscles (like the ones in your legs) will also recover and get stronger way faster.
This increased overload from your energy and muscles growing stronger will supercharge your cardiovascular health.
Cardio while bulking is incredible, and really will boost your cardiovascular health.
How To Increase Stamina While Bulking
Putting on a ton of extra muscle and fat will definitely lower your stamina. So, here’s how to increase stamina while bulking.
Firstly, I recommend examining your body fat and how much weight you’ve put on. If you’re above 18% body fat, it’s probably time to cut down a bit.
Secondly, start adding cardio to your regiment. Doing cardio while bulking has incredible benefits that are rarely talked about.
To increase your stamina, you can do many forms of cardio. I always recommend 60 minutes of running/cycling/something tough as it teaches you serious discipline and works.
There is no doubt that doing a 60-minute run every day for a few months will increase your stamina- and you’ll probably find yourself a new man mentally.
You could also try doing HIIT workouts! Or even doing simple things like 100-200m sprints every day after your workout.
It doesn’t always have to be a 60 minute run, but the point is to get out there and PUSH yourself!
Conclusion of Cardio While Bulking
Cardio while bulking is awesome. It really is a necessity for recovery, lifestyle, gaining more muscle, and just setting yourself up for success.
Get to it! And good luck. Thank you for reading.