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Cardio When Bulking?

Hi Dr. Bell,

I’m trying to bulk up and was wondering if I should also do any cardio? I do maybe one session a week. Is it a good thing to do? Or should I remove this from my weekly routine?

Most athletes find it very difficult to increase muscle size (bulking) when they perform a lot of cardio exercise. This is largely experienced when athletes perform the classic: Low Intensity – Long Duration (L.I.L.D) cardio program design. L.I.L.D. is no longer the typical cardio exercise program design of choice, being replaced by High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T.).

H.I.I.T has been shown to be both safer and far more effective, as well as, FAR less time consuming than L.I.L.D.

We now know, that long duration exercise causes an increase in catabolic hormones, including cortisol. It is well known, that it is difficult, if not impossible, to increase muscle mass or decrease fat mass when cortisol levels are high. This is the probable cause of why athletes don’t increase muscle mass when they engage in cardio.

H.I.I.T is more effective at developing cardiovascular (CV) and cardiorespiratory (CR) endurance than L.I.L.D Training. In 20 minute H.I.I.T sessions, twice/week, athletes develop more CV & CR endurance than those performing 45-60 minute L.I.L.D sessions 5-6 times/week. The H.I.I.T Group also showed far greater fat loss.

I believe you can complete 2 H.I.I.T sessions/week and not only use it to increase your CV & CR Fitness, but if your Work Intervals are brief (10-30 seconds) of 100% all-out effort, you may find that your H.I.I.T Sessions, actually help you increase muscle mass.

If you have any doubts, compare the physiques of Sprinters to that of Marathon Runners!