Tip: Cardio for Very Big Lifters

How does one of the world's strongest bodybuilders and powerlifters do cardio? You may be surprised.

I Hate Cardio

I really do. I hate walking fast on a steep incline. I despise the horrid Stairmaster. And the thought of the elliptical or even just light jogging makes me want to hurl.

You see, in the last 15 years I've done 35 bodybuilding shows, most of which included a grueling two hours a day of cardio for 12-18 weeks every show. I've just had enough! The thought of doing that again just gives me anxiety.

But I'm also smart enough to know that at 36 years old and with years of pro sports behind me, my heart, lungs, and even my brain benefits from cardiovascular activity. I know I need to be doing it a few times per week. For me and many others, so many issues can be prevented with a little cardio.

My solution? Make it fun. For me that means going back to my very first sport: martial arts.

It's more of a mix of taekwondo, jujutsu, kickboxing, and krav maga all blended into some sort of MMA. Beside the obvious – burning fat and changes in body composition – martial arts has several benefits for lifters:

  1. Better hip, shoulder, and ankle mobility. When you kick and punch with proper technique, anywhere from 200-1000 kicks and punches of all styles and angles in one session, you'll move and open up those joints. Over time, your joints will just feel less "sticky" or flat-out "stuck" as happens with many heavy lifters over the years. Everything will move, rotate, and glide more easily.
  2. Better flexibility. Kicking, punching, and ground work will force you to get more flexible.
  3. You learn a valuable skill. Get your cardio and learn to protect yourself at the same time. Can't get that from walking aimlessly on a treadmill.
  4. It can be either HIIT or LISS. Martial arts training can be done for high-intensity intervals or for low-intensity steady state sessions.
  5. Improved speed, accuracy, and coordination. These are some very nice side effects of using martial arts work as conditioning.

As a bonus, you'll work off your frustrations and get some aggression out, all while burning fat, keeping your heart healthy, and having fun. Can't beat that.

Amit Sapir was born in Israel but he was raised on T Nation. He's been a member since T Nation launched in 1998. Amit has gone from knowledge hungry teenager, to soldier, to qualifier for the 2004 Olympic Games in weightlifting, to IFBB pro bodybuilder. That's why we're glad to have him on the Biotest training team. He's the real deal. Follow Amit Sapir on Facebook