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Should I Do Cardio While Bulking?

Is It Necessary?

Posted by DanWynesFitness - September 3rd, 2016

A statement I hear a lot whilst talking to people in person or online, is should I do cardio while bulking?

Well, to be truthful, part of the issue is that the question in itself is very vague. Without knowing your body type and current training program, it's very hard to answer. Last year after my competition, I wanted to put on more size,and in the last few weeks of prep I was doing five cardio sessions a week and my food was low due to preparing to step on stage.

An old school approach would be for me to throw in a ton of calories at this point and start my bulk. The only problem with this method is that can cause a rebound of weight gain. How is that a problem? Well, it will be mostly fat due to your body not being used to the amount of food.

Other things to take into consideration are hormone levels. At lower levels of body fat, hormones like testosterone aren't as high and cortisol is higher than normal. Lower testosterone means it will be easier, to store fat and harder to build muscle. Not good for a bulk. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone, and in elevated amounts can cause muscle breakdown (catabolism).

Another negative to throwing in loads of calories initially is fat cell creation. Think of fat cells as buckets. If they get full, they will duplicate to carry on being able to store enough fat. While fat cells can duplicate, they can never be destroyed, only emptied. This is one of the reasons people who are already overweight have a tendency to put weight on quicker than those who are not.

Let me make myself very clear – during a bulk, you will ALWAYS gain a bit of fat, the key is to minimise that amount.

How Do You Overcome This?
You need to drip feed your body with excess calories. Start with 100-200 extra calories, and build your food slowly back to a normal level. This is called reverse dieting! Think of this as it sounds – when you’re dieting, you don't drastically reduce food. The same applies to bulking, you have to ease your way into it.

Once your food is back to maintenance level (if you’re not sure what your maintenance is, check out the
Meal Plan page), carry on and look for slow increases in weight. After initially adding 100-200 calories, leave it for a few weeks, and then if there is no weight gain, add some more and repeat until you’re happy.

What Else Should I Consider For My Bulk?
Try not to over complicate your nutrition. Stick to the basics and make sure your training and diet is spot on before doing a bulk. Make sure you’re incorporating progressive overload and sufficient volume in your training, as you can add pounds of muscle by training right.

Rest is also an important commodity that most people miss. You need to understand that it is crucial that you rest enough to grow. You grow while you’re resting, not to mention it's important to not push your central nervous system (CNS) too hard.

Cardio is another tool you can use to reduce calories burned throughout the day. If you’re burning 200 calories a day through cardio alone, and you were doing five days of cardio during your cut, you may want to reduce your cardio one to two days per week, to give you back the 200 calories you were previously burning.

Cardio is brilliant for a healthy cardiovascular system, and indeed for cutting and lean bulking. For me to give you a definite answer is tough, as you have the choice of lots of different ways of drip feed your body calories. As long as your body doesn't get a big increase of calories, then rapid fat gain shouldn’t be an issue. Follow all of the steps above to make sure you get it right!

Just trust and enjoy the process!

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I noticed when I cut my HIIT training in half the past couple weeks, upped my calorie count up by 200 I started serious bulking.  I'd say HIIT is crucial - not a fan of cardio lol.  Great article! 


This is a great article bro!  I like to do HIIT while training!


People forget that the heart is a muscle that needs to be worked as well.


Good stuff!


Great article @danwynesfitness!! Cardio while bulking is something a lot of people think is going to hinder their gains...but if you do it properly there ain't nothing wrong with a little bit of cardio!