Cardio is useful in a weight-training program. Cardio improves blood flow which is great for sports. Normally cardio burns fat, so it works for people who are overweight seeking weight loss combined with changing their diet ways. Bodybuilders have a low body fat percentage. Extended periods of cardio burns muscle when there is no fat to use. For bodybuilders this is an undesirable result.
Beneficial methods are those, which are effective and do not produce muscle loss. Cardio affects different body parts, depending on how performed. Lower body cardio does not have negative effects on strength and muscle development in the upper body. The most effective methods of cardio are those, which mimic movement similar to resistance training. This is true for any sport or training effort.
Here are seven ways to include cardio with bodybuilding:
Sprinting is a better choice than intense walking, jogging, or running. Compare the body of a marathon runner with a sprinter. The marathon runner is gaunt, while the sprinter is muscular. Sprinting is a good choice because it works the hips in a way similar to doing squats and leg presses. High intensity interval training (HIIT) works best. These are intense bouts of sprinting with short rests in-between. Run as fast as possible to get the heart rate up to the desired level as quickly as possible, maintain for a minute then stop. Rest for thirty seconds. Repeat for twenty minutes. This is the best way to insert sprinting into a bodybuilding routine.
High intensity bouts of cycling are similar to sprinting. The key is to cycle as fast as possible, with as much resistance as possible. This type of cycle is sprint cycling. In both sprinting and sprint cycling the leg muscles make rapid contractions. The upper body simply goes along for the ride. The Tabata method, named after a Japanese researcher, suggests sprint cycling for twenty seconds, followed by ten seconds of low intensity cycling, repeated for four minutes each routine.
Rowing combined with resistance training works well. Again, the idea is not to row for endurance but to row as fast as possible to get the heart rate up quickly. Just like cycling, rowing can follow the Tabata method.
Jumping rope in a series of fast sessions with very short periods of rest in-between is another way to get the heart rate up quickly. It has an added benefit of increasing dexterity and coordination.
Barbell complexes are done as fast as possible in an explosive way with movements affecting the entire body. There is no rest between exercises, only rest between complexes. The idea is to do all the complexes possible in an eight to ten minute session.
These are carrying or pulling very heavy weights for fifty feet. They get the heart rate up fast.
Again the key is to sprint swim, not go for endurance.
Sufficient recovery time is required for interval training, which is a minimum of 48 hours to avoid overtraining. Overtraining causes muscle damage and stress, so it is necessary to keep things in balance with a properly scheduled training regime.