For those of you that compete in bodybuilding, a sport with weight classes or are simply trying to shred up, cardio is a necessary element. For many, the goal isn’t simply to sprint for long durations or jack up the intensity because you may end up in a fasted state and your body has to rely on other forms of energy after your carbohydrates have been depleted. Especially for fitness competitors, cardio needs to be kept at a low intensity to facilitate burning fat.
A lot of bodybuilders, especially heavy weights have difficulty with things such as running or sprinting. This isn’t to say they can’t, it is that engaging in these activities over long durations can have negative compounding effects on joints and have a higher risk for injury. Instead, we turn to the stationary bike, incline treadmill or the notorious stair stepper. The sample principles also stand for Physique, Bikini and Figure competitors where the goal is to burn fat and not muscle.
In addition to keeping impact on joints to a minimum, these three forms of cardio have the added benefit of keeping your metabolic rate high without going over into catabolism or a state where your body breaks down muscle for fuel.So, how can you get more out of your cardio sessions?
For starters, you should not do cardio before your workouts. Cardio before you lift is like running a marathon as a warm up to sprints. Your body needs as much fuel as possible to feed your muscles during weight training and cardio beforehand will deplete those stores of energy.
Don’t Go Overboard
Four days a week for 30-40 minutes is about the maximum amount of cardio you should be doing if you are getting ready for a show or cutting weight. Durations and frequencies more than this can have a negative effect on maintaining muscle, especially if you are close to a caloric deficit. You want to maximize each session, not burn yourself out.
Supplementation for Maximum Effect
BCAA’s / Aminos
Next, during your cardio sessions, do them under semi-fasted conditions where you sip BCAA’s during your cardio training. This will provide some additional fuel for your muscles to prevent them from starting to consume themselves. BCAA’s during cardio will also trigger a mild insulin response. This is beneficial for increasing thermogenesis. For those whose stomachs always seem to be unsettled after cardio training, look for a BCAA/Amino with glutamine. Glutamine will help with recovery but it will also help to sooth your stomach. Our recommendation is BCAA+ by Rise Performance. It has a solid BCAA ratio of 10:1:1 and has the added benefit of glutamine, taurine and carnitine. 1-2 scoops and sip before and during your cardio.Higenamine
One of the best ways to maximize your cardio sessions is with thermogenics. Higenamine HCl is best suited for this. Higenamine is a stimulant with similar fat burning properties to the former DMAA and Ephedra. Supplementing with Higenamine before cardio sessions will give you the energy from start to finish but will also help to increase your metabolism and lipolysis (fat burning). Many bodybuilders use Higenamine as a way to decrease the duration of their cardio sessions by increasing the body’s ability to burn fat.
The added benefit of using Higenamine over other thermogenics in cardio training is the increase in bronchial and vasodilation. Higenamine is a B2 agonist which means it helps to open the airways in a similar mechanism to albuterol (in asthma inhalers) or clenbuterol (the illegal fat burner). Additionally, Higenamine is a vasodilator which is uncommon among many stimulants. Higenamine helps to open the blood vessels allowing for better circulation. It’s a great bang for your buck during cardio training, better breathing, better blood flow and better fat burning. We recommend Higenamine by SWFT Stims, an A1Supplements customer favorite. Take 1-2 capsules 30 minutes before cardio and get ready to melt away the fat.(Note: Higenamine is NOT an alternative to Albuterol! They just function by a similar mechanism.)
Conjugated Linoleic Acid
Lastly, CLA or Conjugated linoleic acid is a great way to get the most out of each session. CLA promotes the reduction of fat mass through the liver. Additionally, CLA is thought to block the activity of fat promoting enzymes. Our recommendation is Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals CLA 1000. Take 1-2 soft gels 1 hour before training.