As you may know by now, I always make an effort when replying to your questions, whether it’s through Facebook, Twitter or email. So, it’s with great pleasure to announce that Blogybuilding.com has gone one step further and teamed up with WBFF PRO Fitness Model, Amer “The Hammer” Kamra, to answer one of our reader’s questions! If you remember, we interviewed Amer more than a month ago. If you missed it, please click here.
A few days ago, I received the following email:
“Hope the trainings going well, just a question about cardio really.
I’ve just started a 3 day split and am bulking, although finding the nutritional
side of things difficult with studies and work 7 days per week, so it’s kind of
inconsistent dirty bulking at the moment.
Question is, how much cardio should I be looking to partake in, and when shall I do
be doing it? Obviously the aim is to keep cardio to a minimum, especially when I’m
not consistently hitting 500 over maintenance every day, but I’m not sure how
literal to take the word ‘minimum’.
Appreciate the help bro [sic]”.
Thank you for your question. You can read our response after the cut.
I suggest keeping cardio to a very low intensity if your primary goal is hypertrophy and to “bulk up”. However, I do not recommend that you abandon cardio altogether, as cardio actually helps promote lean muscle growth, nutrient absorption, fat loss, as well as overall wellness. Post-workout, I would suggest doing an uphill walk, or use the stationary bike for 15-20 minutes, keeping your HR (heart rate) below 65%. That said, don’t overkill the cardio. You should just about be breaking a sweat – not drenching your shirt!
To calculate your maximum heart rate, deduct your age from 220. So, if you’re 21, your MHR would be 199bpm and therefore, 65% of this would be ~129bpm.
If your aim is to bulk up, then you should understand that building muscle requires a positive energy balance, which means that you have to take in more calories than you burn. Cardio however, burns calories, which in effect causes an energy deficit. So, if you’re looking to “bulk up”, remember cardio could hinder your goals!
That’s not to say you should stop doing cardio – like Amer said, cardio has an array of benefits besides fat loss. Having said that, if your aim is to shed body fat, then you should avoid “dirty bulking” – period.
My advice would be to sit down and assess your goals properly. You used the word “consistently” in your question. But how do you expect to be consistent if you keep giving your body mixed signals? “Dirty bulking” and “cardio” are two words that should never be used in the same sentence – ever!
If I was bulking, then I would do 2 cardio sessions a week, 3 at most, making sure that I protect my muscles by taking an L-Glutamine/BCAA concoction (5-10g’s of each) before starting the session.
As far as food sources go, if you’re constantly on-the-go, stick to nutrient dense shakes which include ingredients such as oats, almond butter/peanut butter and fruits to complete the meal. Like Aqil, I don’t agree or suggest that you “dirty bulk”. There’s absolutely no point in doing so, as you’ll gain body fat for no reason. Stick to clean foods, with more of your macronutrient consumption deriving from complex carbohydrates.
Continuing on Amer’s comments about carbohydrates, make sure that you understand the difference between simple and complex sources. As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, 180g’s of sweet potato contains about 35g of carbohydrates – but, so does a 57g Snickers bar! Although both elicit the same hormonal response (insulin), they are of different degrees. In other words, one is more likely lead to fat gain than the other. For that reason, bulking cleanly will always yield quicker and healthier results in the long run!
Finally, remember that consistency is key. Taking 2 steps forward is one thing. But is it really worth it if you’re only going to take 2 or even 3 steps back? Whether it’s inside of the gym or out, make progress! If you’re training is great, external factors such as your diet and rest needs to mirror that. Otherwise this time next year, you’ll find yourself as you were.
We hope this answers your question. Good luck!
You can find out more about Amer at the following places: