A common misconception is that bodybuilders do not participate in cardio activities because cardio would result in the breakdown of muscle tissue for fuel, or because cardio would divert some of the body's energy away from muscle growth. But this is generally not the case. The truth is that most bodybuilders use cardio to increase oxygen flow to muscles and to burn excess body fat.
Bodybuilders will want to perform cardio on non-resistance training days or days when their training volume is lowest. This should result in three to four days of cardio per week. Just as with resistance training, particularly difficult cardio days should be followed by a day of rest or minimal activity.
The duration of each cardio workout depends on the type of activity that is being completed. It is also dependent on where you are in your training; if you need to shed more excess body fat, you will need to participate in more cardio than you will if you are already lean. High intensity activity should be completed for shorter durations than lower intensity workouts. Typical cardio sessions last anywhere from 20 minutes to 60 minutes or more.
Bodybuilders engage in several different types of cardio activities to achieve their fat burning goals. Continuous cardio is what you often think of when you hear cardio training. Continuous cardio might, for example, involve a long run at a steady pace. Interval cardio is a great option if time is limited. Interval cardio involves periods of short-term high intensity activity separated by short rest periods. Cross training is the use of several different modes or equipment pieces one right after the other. Circuit training can also be used to obtain cardio training. In circuit training, short duration high-intensity cardio is mixed in with low resistance strength training activities.
Bodybuilders will use a variety of equipment to achieve their cardio goals. Running is a common cardio activity and it can be done on roads or trails or in the gym on a treadmill. Bodybuilders often use treadmills because it is easier to track time, distance, speed, and caloric expenditure than it is on the road. Bodybuilders will often use other equipment to eliminate boredom and the possibility of acquiring overuse injuries. Other equipment they may use include bicycles, cross trainers or ellipticals, steppers or climbers, and rowers.