Do Bodybuilders Do Cardio? (2022)

When you think of bodybuilders, you think of huge, shredded, ripped guys with biceps the size of 23.5 inches! But, do these guys do cardio? Do us bodybuilders ever get on an elliptical and run (god forbid right!)? Do bodybuilders do cardio?

Yes, bodybuilders do cardio. A ton of it actually. This is a common misconception, many people think bodybuilders do not do cardio. When in fact, bodybuilders tend to actually do more cardio over time than many other fitness freaks.

Let’s cover exactly why this is.

Photo by Li Sun from Pexels, Do Bodybuilders Do Cardio? Yes!
Photo by Li Sun from Pexels, Do Bodybuilders Do Cardio? Yes!

Why Do Bodybuilders Do Cardio?

Bodybuilders do cardio for a lot of reasons.

First of all, it helps reduce the amount of fat you gain when bulking. This is why most people do cardio while bulking.

When you’re bulking, you always end up putting on fat- no matter what you do. But doing cardio while bulking reduces the amount of fat you put on, and allows you to eat more protein while minimizing weight gain.

But secondly, cardio will make you bigger over time. And lastly, you simply cannot become a huge ‘bodybuilder’ without doing any cardio- your heart will not be able to support it.

Cardio Helps Your Muscles Grow

Bodybuilders do cardio to help their muscles grow.

To grow muscle, you need to be in a caloric surplus. This means you have to be gaining weight every day. The more food you eat, the more protein you can eat. This means if you’re eating more cardio, you’re allowing your body to have more nutrients to build up your body.

Sure, you could do this without as much cardio. That’s called, dirty bulking- and some people don’t like that because you can put on a little too much fat doing that.

But giving your body more resources to build muscles allows you to essentially grow more. Many bodybuilders plateau or ‘can’t grow anymore’ at a certain point, and it’s because they don’t eat enough. This causes your muscles to not grow.

Forcing more food down your throat and upping the cardio will ensure you’re growing and keeping the fat off.

Your Heart Will Not Be Able To Support It

When you do a ton of strength training, your heart grows muscle that supports that. It grows tissue and becomes stronger to support your heart under conditions of continued strain.

But, cardio does a different kind of heart workout. Notice that when you’re lifting, your heart rate acts slower with ‘stronger’ heartbeats that provide a ton of blood to the muscles.

However, when you’re doing cardio you need a much higher heartrate that gives a lot of blood more sustained over a very very long time. Or, HIIT cardio trains your heart to deliver a ton of blood fast.

If you only end up training one part of the heart, your heart will just be unable to grow your weight-lifting anymore. You need to grow all parts of your heart, you can’t just grow one part of it and expect the rest to fall into place.

This will cause problems if you have a ton of muscle and try to do things like get out of bed or even walk around the grocery store if your heart isn’t strong enough to support this. You NEED to do cardio if you want to have all that muscle and even like, do everyday things.

Why Do Bodybuilders Do More Cardio Than Others?

While it may seem like it may be near impossible with the amount of muscle they pack on, or how extreme their weight-training regiments are.

But make no mistake. Bodybuilders do some of the most cardio out of any fitness freaks out there.

Sure, you can say a lot of CrossFit/track runners do a lot of cardio. But over time, consistently bodybuilders end up doing the most cardio.

Here’s why:

Most people that are in CrossFit/whatever tend to do cardio and more intense forms of cardio. However, many of these people’s routines are inconsistent compared to bodybuilding.

Bodybuilding is a sport about time. Nobody gets ‘huge’ overnight. Most people going to the gym are just there to lose a little bit of fat and maybe get a tiny bit of muscle.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s far different than the mentality of a bodybuilder.

Bodybuilders Are In It For Decades

Bodybuilders aren’t planning to be in the gym for 1-2 years, they are planning it for 6-7 years before they might even compete.

Most bodybuilders are following a VERY STRICT regiment, like Arnold’s Blueprint to Mass. Many bodybuilders will find themselves working out 2-3 hours a day and doing 30 minutes-1 hour of cardio 2-3x a week.

The thing is, since bodybuilders are so strict and consistent with their schedule over time, they end up just doing more cardio than the average fitness freak!

Bodybuilders Do Cardio, It’s Just Not Shown

I think many people have this misconception that bodybuilders do not do cardio because it’s just never shown.

This is simply because when you think of bodybuilder, you think of some super muscly guy benching 900 lbs for 100 reps on a TV show.

But as we all know, muscle doesn’t just pop up after running for an hour. It takes serious time and hard work in the gym to grow muscle.

Most people that run normally to lose weight don’t lift weights (or at least as heavily as bodybuilders do) and because of this there’s this distinction that the ‘meatheads’ are always under the barbell.

But in reality, bodybuilders do spend a lot of their time running, sprinting, doing brisk walks, or other cardio things.

Bodybuilders NEED Cardio to Compete!

If you still don’t believe bodybuilders do cardio when putting on muscle, you need to understand that bodybuilders NEED cardio to compete.

Most bodybuilders after their endless years of slaving away in the gym actually end up going on the stage to compete and get graded. Many bodybuilders can earn sponsorships, money, and become famous after this.

Remember how earlier I said that when you bulk you put on fat? Cardio helps you burn this fat when you’re losing weight.

Some of the biggest bodybuilders have even reported doing cardio for 2 hours a day mere weeks out from their competition! That’s way more cardio than most people will do in a week.

And as I discussed in my Why Do Bodybuilders Tan post, bodybuilders are critiqued incredibly meticulously based on even the tiniest things such as how cut they are. If they have even 1% more body fat than their next closest competitor, they may fail the competition outright.

Conclusion of Do Bodybuilders Do Cardio?

Overall, it’s just a myth that bodybuilders don’t do cardio. Bodybuilders definitely do cardio, 100%. And truth be told, they find themselves doing cardio far more than their peers in the gym!

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