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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Are cardio exercises an important part of bodybuilding?

    I would like to build muscle mass. Do I need to include cardio training or is weight training enough?
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  • 1


    Matt Murfitt

    Personal Trainer

    Hi my name is Matt and I love health and fitness. I am a Personal Trainer from Sydney, Australia with many years experience in Australasia … View Profile

    There are two different questions here. 

    Body builders normally separate their goals into two distinct phases - muscle building in the off-season, and fat-loss in the pre-contest season.

    Strictly from a body building point of view - cardio is useful if you are wanting to burn fat. A fat-burning cycle is an important part of body building, which would make cardio important at this time. 

    However - if you are wanting to build muscle, cardio is not necessary, and some might even say - detrimental to your muscle building efforts. 

    A main premise underlying this is that one cannot build muscle and burn fat at the same time - as muscle gain requires an excess of calories in relation to daily out-put, while net fat-loss requires a deficiency in calories.

    For both burning fat and building muscle, weight training is essential. 

    Cardio however, should be limited, even when wanting to burn fat. Too much cardio will increase your body's stress hormones, particularly Cortisol, which will make your body susceptible to excessive muscle loss.

    It has been shown in studies that heavy cardio for over 20 mins has been shown to start raising cortisol to undesirable levels. 

    My advice - do cardio if you are wanting to burn fat, but always make sure you get your weight-training in as a priority. Limit your cardio to 20 mins per day, and no more than 4-5 times per week. 

    Note - when we speak of “cardio” we refer to exercises such as jogging, cross trainers, and cycling - exercise that primarily trains the cardio vascular system over other muscles.

    Feel free to view more on building muscle here.

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