T Nation

How Often - Cardio

Hi,
Im training every other day in a gym, my trainings are 2 hours long with increasing intensity. My goal during the winter is to pack on some muscle but stay on my current body fat level (10%). Im thinking about adding some cardio - 20-30mins of 100m sprints. How often would you suggest I should do it per week?

Im not beginner, Im training for 5 years and have good diet :slight_smile:

Thx

I can’t really say anything definitive as I don’t know much about your nutrition, nor am I the most experienced guy around, but here’s my two-cents irrespective:

-Two hour training sessions are generally too long. Unless you are ‘enhanced’ or following some crazy peri-workout protocol, two hours is most likely too much, and your body will struggle to recover effectively. Also, there have been studies showing drops in testosterone and rises in cortisol after 45 mins to 1 hour of training - a catabolic cocktail. Don’t freak out about that though and run away from the gym at 44:99, but it’s something to bear in mind.

-Cardio isn’t absolutely ‘necessary’ for lean muscle growth. Some guys will tell you to avoid cardio whilst bulking, while others will tell you that it helps with recovery and can help to stall fat gain. Yet others still will launch off into a tangent about ‘g-flux’- an interesting concept which may help give you your answer (John Berardi is a large proponent of the concept, google it). Get some other opinions, do some reading, and then make a decision. There is one rule that you must stick to: You need a caloric surplus to build muscle. If you do tons of cardio, then make sure that you’re eating tons of food.

Good luck with the lean gains.

[quote]Fyzjin2 wrote:
-Cardio isn’t absolutely ‘necessary’ for lean muscle growth. Some guys will tell you to avoid cardio whilst bulking, while others will tell you that it helps with recovery and can help to stall fat gain. Yet others still will launch off into a tangent about ‘g-flux’- an interesting concept which may help give you your answer (John Berardi is a large proponent of the concept, google it). Get some other opinions, do some reading, and then make a decision. There is one rule that you must stick to: You need a caloric surplus to build muscle. If you do tons of cardio, then make sure that you’re eating tons of food. [/quote]
^Good Post^

OP, here’s a helping hand:

OP, if I can grab some things you said in your recent bench thread…

[quote]Balklim wrote:

  • 190cm, 91kg, 10-12% body fat
  • my 1RM bench is between 100-110kg for more than 2 years[/quote]
    As was said there, your training is almost certainly the problem. No way you should’ve been stalled at that weight, at your level of experience, for so long. What does your current training look like - days, exercises, sets, and reps? Also, in the last two years, how has your bodyweight changed?

Sorry, but you really don’t.

2-3 cardio sessions that are easy-to-moderate intensity done on non-lifting days are usually fine for minimizing fat gain while bulking. However, sprints are obviously high intensity and what I’d consider inappropriate for the job. But really, it’s not just about cardio. Get your lifting and eating in order first, and then see if you need to plug in cardio.

[quote]Fyzjin2 wrote:
-Two hour training sessions are generally too long. Unless you are ‘enhanced’ or following some crazy peri-workout protocol, two hours is most likely too much, and your body will struggle to recover effectively. Also, there have been studies showing drops in testosterone and rises in cortisol after 45 mins to 1 hour of training - a catabolic cocktail. Don’t freak out about that though and run away from the gym at 44:99, but it’s something to bear in mind. [/quote]
I disagree with pretty much all of this. The hormone effects are short-lived and have minimal impact on the big picture. I could easily end up with a session lasting two-ish hours depending on my goal, training volume, training partner, etc. Having an efficient and productive workout is much, much more important than beating the clock to get out of the gym.

Also, peri-workout nutrition is a huge difference-maker whether you’re lifting for 30 minutes or 150 minutes.

[quote]JLone wrote:

[quote]Fyzjin2 wrote:
-Cardio isn’t absolutely ‘necessary’ for lean muscle growth. Some guys will tell you to avoid cardio whilst bulking, while others will tell you that it helps with recovery and can help to stall fat gain. Yet others still will launch off into a tangent about ‘g-flux’- an interesting concept which may help give you your answer (John Berardi is a large proponent of the concept, google it). Get some other opinions, do some reading, and then make a decision. There is one rule that you must stick to: You need a caloric surplus to build muscle. If you do tons of cardio, then make sure that you’re eating tons of food. [/quote]
^Good Post^

OP, here’s a helping hand:
http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_nutrition/gflux_redux [/quote]

Pretty much agree. Berardi’s G-flux is a great method that a lot of people seem to respond well to.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:
OP, if I can grab some things you said in your recent bench thread…

[quote]Balklim wrote:

  • 190cm, 91kg, 10-12% body fat
  • my 1RM bench is between 100-110kg for more than 2 years[/quote]
    As was said there, your training is almost certainly the problem. No way you should’ve been stalled at that weight, at your level of experience, for so long. What does your current training look like - days, exercises, sets, and reps? Also, in the last two years, how has your bodyweight changed?
    [/quote]

Ive been stalled only on flat bench press (normal grip width)… at all other exercises I significantly improved during the last 2 years - dead lifts, power clean, dumbbell press, incline bench press, shoulder press, close grip, rows…

My overall training isnt problem IMHO, because Im constantly improving everywhere (except BP) and muscles grow well. Problem could be in chest training…

For chest Im doing:

  • on monday Im doing 4+5 dynamic pushups and then two waves (reps: 3-2-1) inclined BP

  • on wednesday Im doing 4x5 dynamic pushups, two waves (3-2-1) flat BP, Big drop sets (5 sets, shortening pauses) for Dumbbell flat press, Dumbbell inclined press and flat flyes

  • on saturday Im doing 4x5 dynamic pushups, two waves (3-2-1) very close grip BP

  • on the end of training Im doing some dips as a part of the “finisher”

The G-flux complex seems great, maybe it is the answer I hoped I find here :slight_smile:

Totally disagree on,the “no long 2 hour workouts”.it is largely bullshit. I did plenty of those, like them even, for years on end, and grew fine. The hormone changes are largely inconsequential.

In other news, I completely agree with Colucci. Again.

Lastly, if you DID really want to do sprints…30 minutes would kill you. Or be overkill. And 100m is way too long. Really you can do 40 yard sprints for nearly all the results if you are not an athlete. Even 30 yards. 6-12 sprints are enough (start low end).

Honestly tho, fat gain should be mimimized with diet and then fine tuned with easy, non-intense cardio. Too much cardio is counterproductive for gaining, but of course some small amount will not really hurt. Dont overdo it.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:
In other news, I completely agree with Colucci. Again.[/quote]
:wink:

[quote]Balklim wrote:
at all other exercises I significantly improved during the last 2 years - dead lifts, power clean, dumbbell press, incline bench press, shoulder press, close grip, rows…[/quote]
For context, what are your current maxes/bests on those seven lifts plus squats?

And, again, how has your bodyweight changed over that same time period?

Fair enough, I guess. I don’t know your whole training plan, but from my perspective, if my bench stalled at an “advanced beginner” level for 2+ years, after training for several years already, I’d have been tweaking the program by month 2 or 3 at the latest.

If you want to really attack this problem and focus on correcting it, consider following one of the dozens of bench specialization programs on the site. This one from Dave Tate seems to be pretty popular:

On the flip side, if you’re “just” looking to bulk over the winter, don’t stress over the flat bench press for now. Focus on what makes your chest, and the rest of you, grow. Then address the strength issue afterwards.

I think Chris pretty much dominated this thread, but whatever, I guess I’ll throw my two cents in there.

After doing cardio consistently after every lifting session (30 minutes, sometimes LISS, sometimes HIIT,) I have seen and felt the absolute best results of my life. I can eat more, which is amazing. My body looks great (I’m staying in really good shape year-round now,) and muscle and strength is packing on probably easier than ever before. To add, my heart is freaking healthier, too!

Now, keep in mind I am a former TOTAL fatty, and have a just downright awful metabolism, but I still feel like cardio is one of the most important things that gets overlooked… even with skinny guys. eBomb (former poster here, great and knowledgable dude,) does cardio all the time and looks awesome. Abs year-round but is muscular as shit as a natty.

Again, I sometimes hear “It’s too hard for me to put on weight, blah blah blah…” Well, if you’re really serious about getting big, you should be piling in the calories anyway. What’s an extra 400 or so going to hurt? :wink:

I like doing daily cardio no matter the goal.

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]Balklim wrote:
at all other exercises I significantly improved during the last 2 years - dead lifts, power clean, dumbbell press, incline bench press, shoulder press, close grip, rows…[/quote]
For context, what are your current maxes/bests on those seven lifts plus squats?

And, again, how has your bodyweight changed over that same time period?

[/quote]

dead lift - 1x200kg
power clean - 1x95kg (I have still huuuuge space for improving a technique)
dumbbell press flat - 4x with 45kg dumbbells, max ROM
dumbbell press inclined - 4x40kg, max ROM
shoulder press (standing, but absolutely not using legs) - 3x30kg (full ROM)
very close grip flat BP - 3x100kg
one hand rows - 30+ x 45kg - but Im helping myself by leg drive

on my body weight… its hard to say now, but now Im something like 91kg, 11% body fat and 2 years ago it could be 86kg, 14% body fat…

I definitely dont want primary focus my training on BP, main goal is still aesthetic muscles with low body fat, but Id rly want to improve BP finally :frowning:

[quote]Balklim wrote:

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]Balklim wrote:
at all other exercises I significantly improved during the last 2 years - dead lifts, power clean, dumbbell press, incline bench press, shoulder press, close grip, rows…[/quote]
For context, what are your current maxes/bests on those seven lifts plus squats?

And, again, how has your bodyweight changed over that same time period?

[/quote]

dead lift - 1x200kg
power clean - 1x95kg (I have still huuuuge space for improving a technique)
dumbbell press flat - 4x with 45kg dumbbells, max ROM
dumbbell press inclined - 4x40kg, max ROM
shoulder press (standing, but absolutely not using legs) - 3x30kg (full ROM)
very close grip flat BP - 3x100kg
one hand rows - 30+ x 45kg - but Im helping myself by leg drive

on my body weight… its hard to say now, but now Im something like 91kg, 11% body fat and 2 years ago it could be 86kg, 14% body fat…

I definitely dont want primary focus my training on BP, main goal is still aesthetic muscles with low body fat, but Id rly want to improve BP finally :frowning:
[/quote]

Well, no offense but…It’s definitely your training man. Are you REALLY surprised you can’t bench more than 100 kg with an overhead press that friggin weak?? Your overhead press is less than 60% of your bench press 1 RM, and I am assuming you are meaning 30 kg dumbbells…because if the shoulder press was total weight lifted…No. Just no.

Your deadlift is pretty good and the power clean is ok, as you said technique is incredibly important. But don’t be surprised your bench sucks with shoulders that weak. Damn.

[quote]Aragorn wrote:

[quote]Balklim wrote:

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]Balklim wrote:
at all other exercises I significantly improved during the last 2 years - dead lifts, power clean, dumbbell press, incline bench press, shoulder press, close grip, rows…[/quote]
For context, what are your current maxes/bests on those seven lifts plus squats?

And, again, how has your bodyweight changed over that same time period?

[/quote]

dead lift - 1x200kg
power clean - 1x95kg (I have still huuuuge space for improving a technique)
dumbbell press flat - 4x with 45kg dumbbells, max ROM
dumbbell press inclined - 4x40kg, max ROM
shoulder press (standing, but absolutely not using legs) - 3x30kg (full ROM)
very close grip flat BP - 3x100kg
one hand rows - 30+ x 45kg - but Im helping myself by leg drive

on my body weight… its hard to say now, but now Im something like 91kg, 11% body fat and 2 years ago it could be 86kg, 14% body fat…

I definitely dont want primary focus my training on BP, main goal is still aesthetic muscles with low body fat, but Id rly want to improve BP finally :frowning:
[/quote]

Well, no offense but…It’s definitely your training man. Are you REALLY surprised you can’t bench more than 100 kg with an overhead press that friggin weak?? Your overhead press is less than 60% of your bench press 1 RM, and I am assuming you are meaning 30 kg dumbbells…because if the shoulder press was total weight lifted…No. Just no.

Your deadlift is pretty good and the power clean is ok, as you said technique is incredibly important. But don’t be surprised your bench sucks with shoulders that weak. Damn.[/quote]

Of course I meant 30kg dumbbells with full range of motion (touching shoulders with dumbbells). Shoulders are my best part in muscular development.

today: 3x105kg and 1x110kg on flat very narrow (only pinkies out of the smooth part) grip BP !

I was thinking about it and maybe narrow grip force me to not flare my elbows and to better technique… I feel very well leg drive and whole start of the press… on my chest day I will try regular BP and focus on tucking elbows more

[quote]Balklim wrote:

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]Balklim wrote:
at all other exercises I significantly improved during the last 2 years - dead lifts, power clean, dumbbell press, incline bench press, shoulder press, close grip, rows…[/quote]
For context, what are your current maxes/bests on those seven lifts plus squats?[/quote]
dead lift - 1x200kg
power clean - 1x95kg (I have still huuuuge space for improving a technique)
dumbbell press flat - 4x with 45kg dumbbells, max ROM
dumbbell press inclined - 4x40kg, max ROM
shoulder press (standing, but absolutely not using legs) - 3x30kg (full ROM)
very close grip flat BP - 3x100kg
one hand rows - 30+ x 45kg - but Im helping myself by leg drive[/quote]
?

Solid progress. I think you’ll definitely get closer to where you want to go sticking with a well-designed program during your bulk.

Yep, like Dave Tate was saying in the article I linked, a technique tweak can make a huge difference. Work on it as you go along, but you should still be able to see good results all around in the meantime.

heh, I dont squat (now you all can fry me)… Dead lift, power clean, snatch and some random cardio do just fine for me… I was doing squats long time ago, but I rather focused on dead lift… last what I remember was 8x110 full ROM squat (ass to ground)

  • Ive read soooo many articles from Dave Tate :slight_smile: but its possible that even though Im not using his advices sufficiently

  • you wrote “well designed” program, its irony or you mean it? o.O

[quote]Balklim wrote:
heh, I dont squat [/quote]
You make Jusup cry.

Cardio won’t build strength or muscle in the legs on any level comparable to direct weight training. Any chance you can toss up a picture of your legs to see what’s what?

How much do you snatch? Do you front squat at all?

So you got your squat up to an “advanced beginner” level, similar to your bench, and then you just decided to not squat anymore? That’s… weird.

Um, I meant it. Because, from the sound of it, you need a well-designed program (as in, a pre-written template or plan that you simply follow) to build muscle and strength in every muscle. Whatever you’ve been doing has been okay, because you’ve built muscle and dropped fat, but getting on a good program will shoot your results even further.

I agree with Chris on this one.

I don’t do cardio at all unless I’m cutting bodyfat, but I exercise at an ungodly pace and volume, so if anything, I get my cardio there.

I would never - ever do cardio if I wanted to put on mass. But if you are involved in other sports and need the stamina/endurance, then that’s a completely different story.

  • pictures maybe later (dont have any in computer now)
  • I used occasionally train with my friend sprinter as a cardio for me and Id say that it had quite solid impact on my legs

I dont squat, so I dont even front squat. Actually Im doing full snatch, but only Jump n Catch as a first exercise of my lower body training. Last training 1x65kg

I dont want my leg necessarily big, Im rather focusing on strength and dynamic here, because I can use it sports

[quote]Balklim wrote:

  • pictures maybe later (dont have any in computer now)
  • I used occasionally train with my friend sprinter as a cardio for me and Id say that it had quite solid impact on my legs

I dont squat, so I dont even front squat. Actually Im doing full snatch, but only Jump n Catch as a first exercise of my lower body training. Last training 1x65kg

I dont want my leg necessarily big, Im rather focusing on strength and dynamic here, because I can use it sports
[/quote]

Do you play a sport?

Full snatch has a squat component…although at 65 kg it’s not going to really train your legs enough. You might be surprised how just adding squats can help your deadlift drive from the hole.

And I still say your overhead pressing strength is too weak and is holding back your bench. My bench didn’t go up until my overhead pressing strength went up for the longest time. Depends on technique and grip width used, but since you’re using such a narrow grip on bench it is going to be all triceps and shoulders. Incidentally, these are the same things being trained in an overhead press.

[quote]
Do you play a sport?

Full snatch has a squat component…although at 65 kg it’s not going to really train your legs enough. You might be surprised how just adding squats can help your deadlift drive from the hole.

And I still say your overhead pressing strength is too weak and is holding back your bench. My bench didn’t go up until my overhead pressing strength went up for the longest time. Depends on technique and grip width used, but since you’re using such a narrow grip on bench it is going to be all triceps and shoulders. Incidentally, these are the same things being trained in an overhead press.[/quote]

  1. I had been playing soccer for 11 years, but I ended 3 years ago… But I still play for fun every sunday (not in winter). Also I love snowboarding, beach volleyball and I dont mind some sprinting trainings in the summer.

  2. Do you really think my shoulders are so weak? I can do 4x30kg standing (I cant use pecs), full range of motion like in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Z_lOPJQ6Zk (its not me)… its rly difficult to move here some serious weights… I think that on the seated barbell military press Id press much more, but maybe I really should put some additional shoulder exercise to my training… what exercise would you recommend?

  3. My standard bench press grip is quite wide, but I realised that I can bench more with really very narrow grip - that is why I created the thread which was referred to in the 4th post of this thread…