Is Cardio Necessary?



It’s a question many hardcore gym goers will ask themselves from time to time, is cardio necessary? A lot of people view cardio as the antithesis of gaining strength and taking valuable time away from compound exercises that will do more for your physique and strength than any half hour session on the treadmill would be capable of. While a lot of people have heard that abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym, there are lots of bodybuilders that take part in mild bouts of cardio just to get a couple of percentage points down on their overall body fat. Is it something that we need as part of our overall workout routine?

The importance of cardio now in comparison to 50 years ago is more based on overall health and as cardiovascular exercise has shown to increase our heart rate as well as blood flow it can be used as an integral part of pushing ourselves further when our routine has become stagnant. There are still plenty of people who view cardio as a waste of time especially when it comes to losing weight, but it’s important to remember the importance of cardio as a gateway to bigger and better exercise routines. For those people have no baseline fitness, bringing them straight into an intense session of squats and deadlifts isn’t going to help them come back for more. It’s in these instances where cardio helps to get the heart going a little bit. And it’s also a useful way to exercise at home, as we have seen with the old fashioned callisthenics workouts as well as the old faithful exercise bike. And looking at the best stationary bike options you can buy online now, there seem to be many different options for people with busy lifestyles. This is a common reason for people to not exercise, so as a gateway to getting people to do at least 15 minutes of exercise, cardio and home based exercises have their place in the world.

But it’s not just a good thing for people who are just starting out, it’s also a convenient tool for bodybuilders. For those that are hell bent on getting their body fat percentage down to a single digit, cardio is one of the more essential tools you need. While diet is a lot to do with the cutting process and reducing your carbs as much as possible, you can cut down from approximately 14% body fat to 7.2% in the space of 14 weeks if you did 5 cardio sessions a week lasting 40 minutes. For those who are entering competitions and are working hard to achieve that look combining your diet with an effective cardio routine has been shown to be a vital component.

But with excessive cardio, it can have a detrimental effect on your muscles which means you’ve got to find the right balance. But for those keen lifters, if you can do 3 to 5 hours of low-intensity cardio, for most people, that is enough to get body fat down while not compromising your physique.

6 thoughts on “Is Cardio Necessary?

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  1. Cardio is not ‘necessary’. Plenty of aesthetic competitors do no cardio and get very shredded, that said, a solid foundation of cardiovascular fitness, or more simply, just actually moving regularly, seems to solidly support most aesthetic, performance and health goals so a degree of ‘cardio’ would be recommended, even if it is just walking.

    1. Absolutely. Bayesian bodybuilding and many others have achieved fantastic results with no cardio whatsoever. I’m in your camp however that even if we don’t call it cardio, some form of moving on a regular basis, be it walking or not, is beneficial

  2. You nicely define benefits of cardio. Which exercise machine is best for cardio? Any recommendation would be highly appreciated.

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for stopping by. My recommendation is whatever isn’t boring for you! I’m a big fan of low intensity steady state cardio (45 – 60 mins) using an exercise bike. Other friends of mine love 10 minutes of intense exercise on an assault bike. It really seems up to personal preference

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