Many bodybuilders (with a few exceptions) push heavy weights in the gym in order to build muscle, but at the same time ignore cardio completely or do it very rarely.
And if you don’t believe us, just ask 6 time Mr. Olympia Dorian Yates who believes in cardio for so many reasons.
The 4 reasons why bodybuilders need to do cardio year-round, according to Dorian Yates
1. A strong cardiovascular system – cardio keeps your heart and lungs healthy
Cardio activity improves your overall fitness, especially your heart and lungs. Having a strong heart and lungs is vital for any activity that involves increased physical effort.
A strong heart allows for a better blood flow to the lungs, because of dilated blood vessels (blood capillaries) which translates into better oxygen delivery to your muscles and organs
The more intense the cardio, the more your muscles and organs will need oxygen.
At the same time the lungs will need to get rid of more carbon dioxide.
It’s very important that your heart and lungs are strong and efficient so that the body can perform optimally and handle intense physical activity.
Conclusion: The healthier your heart is, and the higher the capacity of your lungs, the body will be able to handle more intense activity, easily.
2. Efficient metabolism
The metabolism is, simply put, the process by which your body converts the calories you eat and drink, into energy.
By nature, metabolism is a complex biochemical process where calories from food are combined with the oxygen you breathe, and during this process the energy released is used by the body to function (to move, produce heat etc…).
Even when we are not physically moving, our body and brain still use energy to function. This is called “resting metabolic rate”
Dorian Yates believes that a bodybuilder (or any other athlete for that matter) should have a healthy metabolic system, so the body can be more efficient at everything it does, including the digestion and processing of the large number of calories.
Although the metabolism is mainly a genetic thing, your lifestyle also plays a role.
What you eat, how much you eat, how much you sleep has a role in your metabolic efficiency.
Cardio also plays an important role when it comes to your metabolic rate.
It stimulates your metabolism and helps you burn calories even after the workout.
3. Improved endurance
Like we mentioned before, cardio improves your overall fitness and aerobic capacity which means more oxygen can be consumed efficiently by the body.
In the gym this translates into higher work capacity – more sets and repetitions.
We know that for hypertrophy we need to increase the volume of training and we also need shorter breaks in order to increase the training density.
This is exactly where we need better endurance.
Dorian’s main reason for cardio was endurance, specifically for the fast paced workouts he was doing during contest preparation.
4. Burn calories
Even though the diet has a major role when it comes to fat loss, cardio does boost the process. We all know how hungry we can be when we cut calories to lose some fat.
There are times when one feels so hungry that they just can’t go lower with their calories for the day. This is where cardio can help you actually.
If you want you can eat a bit more calories which you can burn with cardiovascular exercise.
A study done on several individuals proved that the more cardio performed, the better the visceral fat burning effect.
Cardio has even been proven to suppress hunger for that matter.
How did Dorian do cardio back in the day ?
Everyone has their own preference for cardio exercise but Yates’ preference is power walking.
He used to do power walking for 30 minutes, four sessions per week to maintain his shape.
He says that he finds treadmills very boring and the best part about power walking is that it can be done outside.
He used to do cardio in the mornings on an empty stomach.
“After having not eaten for 10 hours or so, I was in a low-carb state and, therefore, my body would more readily turn to fat for fuel” – Dorian said.
As he used to get closer to competition he would increase his cardio sessions to 12 per week. He used to do 30 minutes of power walking in the morning and 30 minutes on the stationary bike in the late afternoon, 6 days a week.