There is a point in this article that is so IMPORTANT for you to understand that not knowing it will literally mean that you may NEVER reach your genetic potential for muscle growth.
You all know by now that I’m no fan of cardio when on bulking cycles. However, there is an additional factor related to it that I have yet to discuss.
I’ve said that doing cardio in addition to weight training is analogous to driving your car with one foot on the accelerator and one foot on the brake.
This is because the 2 types of exercise, aerobic and anerobic, work against each other IF your goal is to enlarge your muscle mass.
Your personal trainer probably doesn’t know this point. His/her job is to regurgitate their text book and sell it to you (as well as push supplements that their clients don’t need).
In fact, your trainer may actually be recommending the opposite of what I’m going to say and thereby hinder your progress!
Here we go…
Muscle growth is basically making your individual muscle fibers thicker. Think of them like long strands of hair running parallel to each other. Make those individual ‘hairs’ thicker and your overall muscle size increases.
However, it is the Type 2, fast-twitch, fibers that are responsible for growth.
Here’s the interesting point…
The body will change the functional characteristics of one type of fiber to another depending on the nature of the training stress. That’s great news!
This basically means MORE potential for actual muscle growth!
How do we achieve this?
Short, intense, ANAEROBIC weight lifting will signal to the body that it needs to adapt by converting some type 1 fibers into those more resembling type 2 fibers i.e. they become more anaerobic.
But also, our intermediate fibers (2a) can and will become 2b fibers which is more desirable for bodybuilders.
But you can screw this up royally. How?
If, at the same time, you perform a lot of low intensity AEROBIC work, you send the opposite signal. You are saying, “Wait, hold on to those type 1 fibers, I need them for all this aerobic work I’m doing.”
In fact, do this enough and you’ll actually make your muscle-building type 2 fibers more aerobic in character/function. Not good.
So the body is adapting to the predominant signal you are sending it.
Since the body has FINITE resources, you need to make the most of what you’ve got.
I can’t tell you the amount of times that people complain that they are getting nowhere with their training even though they are “busting their ass”. Of course, “busting their ass” means going to the gym and doing A LOT of work in the form of weight lifting AND cardio in an attempt to build muscle and lose some fat.
“A LOT” of work is not necessary for muscle growth. The right TYPE of training stimulates growth. Furthermore, they work against themselves by sending 2 opposing signals to the body in terms of how it should adapt!
Some of them don’t believe me when I tell them to drop the cardio, do less sets, but INCREASE the intensity of those sets. Oh well, maybe I’ll see them in 5 years time when they still haven’t achieved their goals and are ready to get real.
Now, are you a hardgainer?
If so, this is particularly relevant to you! Why?
Because you don’t have a large complement of type 2 fibers to begin with.
Your body has finite resources and you should send one signal and one signal only: Make my type 2b fibers BIGGER and make my 1 and 2a fibers more anerobic so that I can MAXIMIZE my genetic potential for growth. (There’s also the beneficial conversion of type 2x to 2a but that’s beyond the scope of this article.)
How do we do this? Ditch the cardio and train THT style.
I can almost hear someone out there say, “But I know someone who does both and is big”. In that case, you need an understanding of bodybuilding genetics. A small percentage of people have genetic advantages that will allow them to succeed even when working against themselves. Accept it and get on with it.
I wasn’t blessed with great genetics either. Some people will always be bigger than I am. But I have managed to make the best of what I have by training intelligently; by training in harmony with how the human body actually works.
Even those genetic freaks would have gained even better by sending one ANAEROBIC signal.
The point is this: You can get bigger and CONTINUE to get bigger by sending one clear signal of growth to the body.
Hit the body with short, intense workouts. Rest. Recover. Grow. Repeat. Done!
Does this mean that you won’t get fitter? Absolutely not! This is another dumb assertion by some in the fitness industry. I recommend you read my article which includes a section on how intense ANAEROBIC work DOES make you fitter in general.
Does this mean that you should move as little as possible? No, not at all. Live your life, walk your dog, fix things, move things, and so on.
Just try to limit aerobic work that will leave you seriously out of breath, or cause you to “feel the burn” in between intense workouts when you should be resting and recovering.
When you want to aggressively cut fat, do your cardio.
More Intensity + Less Volume + Less Aerobics = More continuous muscle growth.
So train hard and then relax! Talk to you soon,
Can I give you my free muscle-building workout?
Join thousands over the world who are packing on slabs of new muscle for free with Targeted Hypertrophy Training (THT)