Offseason Cardio?

June 17th, 2010 by

What are your thoughts on cardio in the off-season??

The short answer is … it depends.

I will say however that when I see, or rather read, of people doing 45-60 minute cardio sessions in the OFF SEASON, I want to bang my head against the wall; even when I see 30 minutes 6-7x/week. It’s the OFF SEASON. If you’re doing this kind of cardio in the offseason, where do you go when you start dieting?

I don’t have a problem with some low-intensity maintenance sessions per week of reasonable duration – as long as it’s not interfering with what you’re trying to do with your offseason. Low-intensity cardio can actually be rather stimulatory to the appetite which is an obvious plus to an offseason, since for some, just having the appetite to eat enough is a challenge.

However, you need to recognize that cardio in the offseason represents a caloric sink you must overcome if you’re wanting to end up with a net positive caloric balance. You’re expending energy so you need to eat more to compensate for the loss … if your goal is making gains in your offseason that is.

The idea of doing cardio in the offseason to keep bodyfat at bay doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Fat loss or gain is about the caloric balance at the end of the day. Cardio creates expenditure. If it’s enough expenditure to have you NOT in a surplus, then you’re unlikely to have enough resources to gain any new size either … since you need to be in a surplus.

The other potential issue is endurance adaptations to the muscle fibers. Muscle fibers are malleable and adapt to the demands placed on them. Endurance qualities do nothing for a physique-conscious person striving for better development.

Embrace the offseason and use it for what it’s for.

As my friend, IFBB Pro bodybuilder Helle Neilsen has said:

You should have the same approach with off-season as with pre-contest. It’s a work period. A lot of people tend to just relax and train casually, and then when they’ve had enough they wanna diet for a show. Take your off-season seriously. It’s a more important season than pre-contest, its here you build your physique. Eat quality food your body can use for building material. Dont fill your body with crap-food. Train hard. It’s a working period. Pre-contest is just peeling the layer off to show what you’ve accomplished in the off-season.

Somebody once told me: ” you have to learn to like to be soft” – very true, and it doesnt have to be a bad soft look – muscles but feminine. We cant just strive for competition look all the time. Every season has its gifts.