So you lift weights, bench is going up, getting bigger. Good job dude. You are on your way to realising your true potential in becoming a super sigma red pill 9000 alfalfa. But you find each set winds you out for a while, your next day DOMs isn't fun and sometimes you get the odd comment from a plate wishing you lasted longer or get a slightly disappointed implying "is that it?"
What's the solution to such a conundrum?
Is it steroids? Sarms? A Lazarus pit?
Nah, that's overkill when there's more a natural solution...CARDIO!
So why do cardio?
The most important muscle isn't your delts or chest, but your heart.
Nah fuck you Apollo, bigger biceps is more importanter...here for a good time not a long time right babe?
Well, how did that turn out for Our Aesthetics Godfather Zyzz or our favourite natty vegan cross fitter panini maker Rich Piana? (Whom rest in heaven among other legends such as Gary Webb, Malcolm X and Mr Potato head for not being gender inclusive enough).
But this is a sexual strategy sub, so let's relate it to that: how does cardio help you get laid?
- It helps burns calories thus helps you get down to a lower body fat percentage. The best tool for LMR is a six pack- Ancient Chinese Proverb.
- It boosts your SMV. What's the better version of you...you at 23% body fat or you at 16% body fat?
- Helps you last longer in bed. Need I say more?
- Improves recovery between sets and from day to day. You will no longer feel as winded after every heavy set of squats/bench needing 5 minutes to recover and your DOMs won't be as bad the next day. Thus cardio= more gains.
Okay, so we established why do cardio...now to answer the how.
Let's first answer what NOT to do: High Intensity Plyometric shit. Basically a circuit of burpees, mountain climbers, pushups stuff like that. Why?
Because burpees is the number one way to hate doing cardio/exercise in general. If you don't enjoy and really dread doing cardio, how long are you going to stick to it? On the flip side, this could be used as mental fortitude test for recruits...someone should write that down.
Not only is this type of cardio not enjoyable but it taxes your body as well, it impacts your gains due to the interference effect of cardio. Your recovery needed for lifting is going to increase if you do this type of cardio which means less time/resources for lifting.
So what's the alternatives?
Elliptical, biking in real life, swimming, treadmill or anything else that isn't too intense like hiking, or recreational sports. One thing you will notice with most of these activities aren't too intense on the muscles nor the joints.
I prefer to do moderate steady state cardio (on the treadmill since thats my preference). I crank up the incline and walk (mimic a hill) for 30 mins/3-4 days a week. I used to do intervals where I would increase the speed to 12, sprint for 30 seconds, walk at speed 6 for another 30 and repeat for about 10-15 mins. Try both methods and see what you like either on the treadmill, elliptical, bike, in the pool etc. I found sprinting was impeding my recovery a bit and maybe wasn't doing my joints many favours YMMV. That's why people use running shoes for intense treadmill sprints, the soft heels on these shoes give way/are flexible so there's less impact on the knees/joints. Or just run on sand, grass, ie softer ground.
But do not wear these when you squat/deadift. This will impede the transfer of power and mess up your form, your knees may cave in a bit as you are pressing from an unstable surface. Thats why its better to jump from solid concrete than sand if you want to jump as high as possible. Now you could just buy squatting shoes for this where the heel is heavy and solid (the total opposite from running shoes) or if you are really smart, just take off your running shoes and squat/deadlift barefoot. Don't be that dude who brings like 10 items in his bag just for lifting.
Now if you already got knee problems and/or taking steroids like win, the elliptical, swimming, biking in real life and hiking are much joint friendlier than the treadmill so do that instead. Your knees will thank you later.
When to do cardio
I prefer doing cardio on rest days, days when I'm not lifting. But if you can't, then do it AFTER LIFTING. Never before. Save your energy/glycogen for lifting weights, don't waste it on cardio.
Cardio is another tool in the box for bolstering SMV for short and long term gains. You don’t need to do 1 hour a day everyday but totally neglecting it isn’t smart either. As long you do it either artificially by using a treadmill, elliptical, a pool or by naturally living a very active lifestyle such as walking 20 mins everyday to and from work, walking your dog, going on regular hikes etc, it doesn't matter too much which form you do, just so long that you do it.