What do you think about performing cardiovascular exercises through the Autumnal and Winter months? Will you stop performing cardiovascular exercise now Summer has left us and you start to get your hoodies and coats out of your wardrobe? Are your workouts now solely focusing on lifting weights and not running? Should you keep up your cardiovascular exercise to maximise optimal lifting performance? Here is my take on why putting on the running shoes during the next few months will help you stay functional and in shape.
The Bulking Season Concept
For many of you, you will associate this time of the year and for the next few months with lifting heavy weights in an attempt to grow bigger and stronger. You will gain weight and look larger than normal and be doing this all in the name of the 'Bulking Season'. You will find yourself eating more calories than normal and performing more weight lifting sessions over cardiovascular ones. You will sacrifice cardiovascular sessions in order to develop as much mass as possible but you will also run the risk of potentially gaining excess body fat! Granted there are two types of bulk that some of you will do, lean muscle gains and mass bulking. Some of you will control what you eat but others will not. I will often hear regular gym users advise the less experienced members of the gym how to gain muscle mass through eating what ever foods. Fast food, take aways, crisps, chocolate the lot. In my personal opinion, I don't think this is the best way to do it.
Cardiovascular exercise is performed through running, cycling, swimming to name a few. The primary focus is on your heart and building fitness and stamina so that you can last longer during your exercise or for activities you perform in every day life. I also believe that cardiovascular exercise helps keep you fit and healthy while maintaining a good amount of body fat. Exercises such as running or cycling helps keep you functionally fit too. Did you know that performing these exercises will help release hormones within your body which will combat depression. These hormones have different role to play within your body and they keep you feeling happy.
Help With Recovery
Lifting heavy weights day in, day out will increase physical demand on your body. How many of you after a heavy legs or back session feel achy and tired after it? For some of you the soreness you experience in your muscles doesn't happen immediately after and could take 24 hours or so, this is called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). If you perform a light walk or row after a heavy weights session you will help remove some of the bi products that are created during your lifting session. This happens because the light walk after a heavy legs session will increase blood flow and oxygen to the muscles helping to free them of any tightness and free radicals. If your recovery is quicker in areas where you are lifting you are going to be able to get back in the gym quicker and lift again, it's a win win situation :)
Body Fat Problems
So you now know that cardiovascular exercise will help work the heart, improve your fitness, help combat depression, keep you happy and improve recovery. Body fat is possibly the biggest goal many of you juggle all year round and for some reason it gets forgotten about during the bulking season. For some of you it is a question of gaining as much size as possible without caring too much what your body fat is. Performing cardio once or twice a week alongside your heavy weight sessions will help keep body fat to a minimum providing you aren't eating too many fatty foods. Remaining functionally fit is another key thing to remember with body fat and gaining weight. When you gain excess body fat you could find yourself becoming more sluggish and less mobile with every day movements. Naturally strongmen and other athletes of this stature are some of the most functionally fit athletes out there, so this doesn't apply to everyone and is just a possibility to some people. I also ask the question why eat foods high in saturated fat/carbohydrates only to shed most of your weight when the warmer months arrive. Of course, you don't need to be really strict but you if you eat some 'cheat meals' or include less than healthy choices, balance it out with doing some cardiovascular exercise.
In A Nutshell
Not everything works for everyone. As always please take what I have written and use it to apply to your own goals. If you want to gain weight then do so, if you want to increase muscle mass by eating what you want, again feel free to do so. I realise some of these topics provide big controversy with other topics so use the information as you see fit and how it will ultimately benefit yourself. Have a great bulking season :)