Cardio training is a must in every weightlifting and fitness routine. You can still burn fat by following a good diet, but cardio will get you there a lot faster and make things a lot easier. There is no need to even mention the overall health impact that cardiovascular training has on your organism. However, you need to use the right amount of cardio exercise in order to burn fat while still gaining muscle or holding on to your hard earned muscle.
Lifters usually avoid cardio because of two reasons:
– They are afraid that they’ll lose size. This can only happen if you overdo it and follow a very low calorie diet. After all, during mass phases all the mass you carry is not all muscle mass, but you also carry a percent of fat and water. So it’s a normal thing to lose some size when cutting body fat.
– They are bored with it. When was the last time that you got excited about doing some cardio? Doing traditional forms of cardio such as riding an exercise bike or running on a treadmill are about as exciting as watching a movie on the family channel. Imagine how boring a cardio session looks like to hardcore liter who squats, deadlifts and pushes hundreds of pounds during his workouts. But hey, you steel need some cardio for general health and if you want to cut body fat.
The idea is to burn your fat “supplies” and build muscle at the same time (also known as body recomposition), or at least hold on to your muscle if you are in a cutting phase. If you overdo it you’ll lose muscle mass, and this is a situation you absolutely want to avoid, but at the same time you certainly don’t want to under do cardio and not use its fat-burning benefits.
So what is the trick?
Either do longer but less intense cardio sessions, like 30-45 minutes of high pace walking or 30 minutes of riding a bike at a slower pace 3 to 4 times a week, or you can do short (15-20 minute), intense interval workouts –HIIT, tabata or fartlek training– 2-3 times a week on non-weightlifting days. Just make it fun!
Good indicators that you are doing the right amount of cardio are your looks and strength. If you look sharper and more defined after some period of time but you have kept or increased your strength despite loosing some weight, then you are on the right track. If you can’t see any results, tune your cardio and also pay attention to your diet.