There are two different seasons in bodybuilding: cutting (or conditioning) season and bulking season. When one thinks of “cutting” they of course mean cutting weight, or more specifically, body fat. This is done primarily through lower calorie intake, usually limited carbs and fats and higher protein, and of course, cardio.
When one “bulks” this is of course to put on more weight. The objective is clean weight (muscle) and a limited amount of fat. Some people do what is called “dirty bulk” where they eat pretty much what they want and hit the gym 7 days a week. Many people out there trying to get big “dirty bulk”. When one bulks the right way however, the eating is clean with a good amount of carbs and protein with a minimal amount of fats. A common macros breakdown is out of the total calories consumed by a person bulking, the breakdown should be around 40/40/20. This means 40% of calories are carb calories, 40% are protein calories, and 20% are fat calories. One thing that many people do not think of doing when bulking is cardio.
This is a mistake.
When a person is bulking, remember the objective when a person is bulking correctly: put on CLEAN weight. Dirty bulking provides all the downfalls of adding unwanted fat and covers up whatever muscle has been gained. When we bulk we are consuming extra calories. These calories are composed of course of carbs and fats. By implementing light to moderate cardio sessions (getting the heart rate to around 50%-70% of MHR), this will not only help with burning unwanted fat that may have been gained but it allows the body to be open to consuming more calories to continue to bulk up cleanly.
Think of it like a coffee filter. The coffee filter keeps the grounds from the water. By making the coffee filter bigger you can allow more coffee in thus allowing more water to pass through to fill up the coffee pitcher quicker. The coffee grounds are calories, the coffee filter is cardio, and the coffee in the pitcher is muscle mass. By doing more cardio, this makes one’s calorie consumption potential greater which will help in building more muscle.
As stated earlier, cardio does not have to be done all the time. Just implement it into a weekly weight lifting routine. Maybe devote 2 or 3 days in the morning to cardio only for about 20-30 minutes. Remember, keep the heart rate levels low to low-moderate. Studies have shown that fasted cardio (doing cardio first thing on an empty stomach) helps during a bulk and focuses a lot more on burning fat. By keeping fat gains to a minimum during a bulk, the cutting phase just becomes that much easier.
In addition, your heart is the most important muscle in your body and like any muscle, it needs exercise to make it stronger. A strong heart can pump more efficiently. One of the best exercises you can do for your heart is cardio.
Give it a try!