Is Cardio Necessary While Bulking and Building Muscle

While many individuals primarily focus on weightlifting and strength training during their bulking phase, cardiovascular exercise offers several important benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. Here’s why cardio is crucial while bulking and building muscle.

The exact approach that you use is going to depend on your body type, your activity level outside the gym, your appetite, and how your weight training routine is structured.

Instead of giving advice that leaves you just as confuse as when you started reading, which is common for this particular topic. We’re just going to aim for a simple set of guidelines that will work very well for the majority of people in the majority of situations.

Is cardio necessary for Bulking?

Well, it’s certainly possible to achieve significantly lean gains without doing any cardio at all. Assuming that your diet is properly controlled but if talking about what is optimal in the overall big picture, then yes it is recommended that you include some cardiovascular exercise in your plan.

Points to Consider on Improving Overall Metabolic Conditioning

  • Cardio conditioning will also help you recover faster in between sets.
  • If you perform little to no cardio during your bulking phase, then it’s going to be a very painful process shifting into regular cardio once you decide to cut.
  • Excessive periods without any cardio at all will cause your overall condition to decrease very quickly and you’ll have to build it back up from the bottom.
  • Poor cardiovascular conditioning is also going to potentially have a negative impact on other areas of your life. For example, if you neglect your cardio altogether, and then you head out to play a game of basketball with your friends, it’s not going to take long before you’re lungs catch fire

4 Reasons Why You Should Perform Cardio While Bulking:

1. Improved Cardiovascular Health:

Cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging, cycling, or swimming, strengthens your heart, lungs, and circulatory system. Engaging in regular cardio workouts helps lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and improve overall cardiovascular health. Since intense weightlifting can put a strain on your heart, cardio helps ensure that your cardiovascular system is functioning optimally.

2. Calorie partitioning

The second benefit of cardio while bulking is calorie partitioning. This basically refers to where calories and nutrients are stored on your body, and where they are burned from during periods of a caloric surplus or deficit.

When you’re in a bulking phase, your body requires an increased amount of nutrients to support muscle growth and repair. Cardiovascular exercise increases blood flow, improving nutrient delivery to your muscles. This enhanced circulation helps transport essential nutrients, such as oxygen and amino acids, to the muscles, aiding in their recovery and growth.

Enhanced Endurance and Stamina:

Building muscle and increasing strength are essential goals during the bulking phase. However, neglecting cardiovascular exercise can lead to a decline in endurance and stamina.

Cardio workouts train your body to efficiently use oxygen and energy, allowing you to sustain higher levels of intensity and recover faster between sets. Improved endurance will benefit your weightlifting performance and allow you to push yourself further, leading to greater muscle gains.

4. Body Fat Minimization
Controlling your overall calorie and macro nutrient intake is definitely going to be the most important factor when it comes to minimizing fat gains during a bulk. This is where a bit of extra cardio can help out as well.

It is always recommended that you bulk in a slow gradual fashion by maintaining only a small calorie surplus and cardio can be used as a tool to ensure that you don’t go overboard.

If you have a very large appetite and you simply want to eat more food during your bulking phase, then including extra cardio can allow you to increase your overall food intake, while still keeping your total calories in the proper range.

However, this point is a little tricky, since low-intensity cardio can actually have the reverse effect by stimulating your appetite further which in turn may cause you to eat more.

A solution is to keep your cardio sessions limited and to use a mix of higher intensity and lower intensity forms, because high intensity cardio does not have the same appetite stimulating effect and may actually even decrease your overall appetite.

incorporate cardio into your bulking routine

To incorporate cardio into your bulking routine, aim for 2-3 moderate to high-intensity cardio sessions per week. Choose activities you enjoy, such as running, cycling, swimming, or rowing, and vary the duration and intensity of your workouts to challenge yourself. Remember to listen to your body, gradually increase the intensity, and allow for proper recovery between cardio and weightlifting sessions.

Overall Health and Well-being:

Engaging in regular cardio workouts contributes to your overall health and well-being. It boosts your mood by releasing endorphins, reduces stress, and improves sleep quality.

Additionally, cardio exercises can help regulate your appetite, making it easier to maintain a well-balanced diet and manage your bulking phase effectively.

cardio bulking building muscle

Is Cardio Going to Negatively Effect your Muscle Gains?

It really just depends how you go about it. Yes, performing an excessive amount of cardio throughout the week is certainly not recommended during the bulking phase.

As it definitely can impede overall muscle recovery and growth if you overdo it. However, this would likely require more cardio than most people think and most trainees can recover just fine without any adverse effects on their muscle gains. As long as the frequency, intensity, and duration is moderate, along with properly structured diet.

Here’s a practical cardio guideline while bulking for you to follow:

As mentioned before, the specific amount of cardio that you include in your program is going depend on a variety of individual factors. For most people, 2 to 4 sessions per week is a good guideline to follow.

Go with one to two higher intensity interval base sessions in the 20 minute range and one to two to a lower intensity sessions in the 40 to 60 minute range. You should ideally aim to space theses sessions at least 8 hours away from your weight training workouts or just perform them on your off days from the gym.

Whether you will go with the lower end of 2 sessions or the higher end of 4 sessions or in between depends on a few things:

  • Your body types, if your typical hard gainer doesn’t gain fat easily keep it on the lowest end or you tend to gain fat more easily then perform more.
  • Your activity level, so if you work a desk job then obviously you benefit from more cardio. Compare to a more active job that would allow you to get away with less cardio. (As a side note if you work in strenuous jobs such as construction then you can probably get away without performing any traditional cardio at all.)
  • Your appetite, if traditional cardio makes you very hungry and this is not something that you want. then perform less aerobic cardio in comparison to high-intensity cardio. If the increase in appetite is actually helping you hit your calorie needs more easily, then increase cardio and monitor the results and adjust accordingly.


It is recommended that you perform cardio even if your primary goal is to gain muscle because it’s going to:

#1 increase your metabolic conditioning.

#2 it will improve nutrient partitioning.

#3 optimized recovery

#4 It can keep your body fat levels under control.

A specific amount and breakdown of your cardio is going to be influenced by your body type, your activity level, your appetite, and your specific weight training schedule.

Would you like to share how you incorporate cardio exercise into your workout session? Or how often you perform cardio? Please do so in the comment section below.


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