How Much Cardio Should You Do When Bodybuilding?

The Importance of Cardio in Bodybuilding

Cardiovascular exercise is often seen as crucial for individuals aiming to lose weight or improve their overall fitness. However, when it comes to bodybuilding, the role of cardio might seem less clear. Engaging in regular cardiovascular workouts can indeed complement your bodybuilding routine and provide numerous benefits.

Finding the Right Balance

While building muscle mass and strength is a primary focus in bodybuilding, neglecting cardio exercises can hinder your progress. To strike an optimal balance between muscle growth and cardiovascular health, it’s essential to determine how much cardio you should incorporate into your training regimen.

The Factors That Influence Cardio Frequency

When deciding the appropriate amount of cardio for bodybuilders, several factors come into play:

Training Goals

Your specific training goals will largely dictate the amount of cardio necessary. If you aim primarily at bulking up and increasing muscle size, a lower frequency of cardiovascular sessions may be sufficient. Conversely, if improving overall endurance and promoting fat loss are priorities alongside muscle gain, more frequent cardio workouts should be considered.

Body Composition

Individuals with higher levels of body fat may find themselves incorporating more intense or frequent cardiovascular sessions than those who have already achieved a leaner physique. Balancing strength training with sufficient aerobic exercise assists in reducing excess fat while preserving hard-earned muscles.

Recovery Abilities

Each person’s ability to recover from physical exertion varies significantly. While some individuals may require longer recovery periods between workouts due to genetic predisposition or other factors like age or sleep quality – impacting both resistance training and cardiovascular routines – others might bounce back quickly enough to engage in multiple weekly sessions without compromise.

Determining Your Ideal Cardio Frequency

To establish the ideal cardio frequency for your bodybuilding journey, follow these steps:

1. Set Your Goals

Identify your primary fitness objectives – whether they involve muscle gain, fat loss, endurance improvement, or a combination thereof.

2. Assess Your Body Composition

Evaluate your current body composition and consider how much weight you need to lose or gain in relation to muscle and fat percentages.

3. Consider Recovery Abilities

Take into account your personal recovery abilities and how quickly you typically bounce back from intense exercise sessions.

An Example Cardio Routine for Bodybuilders

While individual preferences and goals may vary, here’s an example of a well-rounded cardiovascular routine suitable for most bodybuilders:


– Start with five minutes of light intensity cardio such as jogging or cycling.
– Follow with stretching exercises targeting major muscle groups to increase flexibility.

Main Workout:

– Engage in 20-30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercises such as running, using the elliptical machine, rowing, or swimming.
– Aim for an intensity that allows you to maintain steady breathing without excessive fatigue but still challenges your cardiovascular system.


– End the session with five minutes of low-intensity cardio like walking or slow cycling.
– Finish by stretching major muscle groups again to enhance post-workout recovery.

Remember that this is just an example routine; feel free to adjust it based on personal preferences and gradually increase duration or intensity over time if desired results aren’t achieved initially.

In conclusion, incorporating regular cardiovascular exercise into a bodybuilding routine provides numerous benefits related to overall health and performance enhancement. By considering factors such as training goals, body composition, and recovery abilities while determining the optimal amount of cardio needed – along with following a well-designed routine – bodybuilders can strike a perfect balance between muscle growth and cardiovascular fitness.