Whether preparing for an upcoming show, or just trying to keep body fat low, cardiovascular training is an important part of all bodybuilders’ routines. When trying to add mass, cardio should be done at a minimum, but for health reasons it should never be completely deleted. Cardio strengthens the cardiovascular and respiratory system, and gives you a stronger heart and lungs.
It’s often hard to get to the gym four or five times per week to train with weights. It’s even harder to make the trip 5 times a week for cardio, especially if you (wisely) decide to do cardio training in the morning to burn the most body fat, performed on an empty stomach upon waking. For these situations, a home cardio solution is a great idea. But which works best? Let’s examine the options.
Walking or running
This it the easiest option – put on shoes, open the door, and go for it. Cost is free, and it can be done anytime. However, drawbacks do exist. Weather can prevent you from running – it’s very hard to spend 45 minutes in the elements when it’s ten below zero, or a sweltering 90 degrees. Also if you live in a bad neighborhood, utilizing a predictable walking schedule might make you a target.
This is a favorite of many due to the low-impact nature of the movement, as well as the fact you can very easily watch television while training. Time does pass quickly on a stationary bike. One drawback is the low intensity nature of the machine. It cannot deliver the same kind of full body workout as other machines.
Elliptical machines are very popular in gyms, but less popular for homes due to their size (big), weight (heavy) and cost ($500 and up for a quality machine). They are very effective for full body workouts.
This very effective piece of equipment suffers from the same fate as the elliptical. It is highly effective for cardiovascular purposes, but also large and expensive. If you have the space and can afford it, a rower is a terrific investment.
This small piece of equipment is available for under $50, and it is used by a surprising number of athletes. It’s the size of a shoebox and provides no upper body balance, but it is easily stored and used, and provides full ability to walk or run using very little space.