If you’ve been working hard to build lean muscle, your main focus at the gym is likely lifting weights. But don’t forget that cardio is a crucial part of any gym routine as well.

High intensity cardio is most often associated with weight loss strategies, which makes some bodybuilders hesitant to add much cardio to their routine. However, the type of cardio you do makes a huge difference on your weight lifting gains, and some types of cardio aredefinitely better for bodybuilders than others.

Here are three of our favorite cardio workouts to get your heart rate and stamina up while helping you sustain muscle mass at the same time.


Mountain Biking

If you’re trying to bulk up, running may not be the best type of cardio to do on a regular basis. As an alternative, try cycling, or better yet…mountain biking! Pedaling on a bike doesn’t result in the same declines of muscle growth as running, and in fact, it’s a great complement to resistance training.

When you’re pedaling through the dirt and over rocks and tree stumps in the great outdoors, your endurance and stamina are challenged as well. If you can’t get outside, a stationary bike at the gym will do just fine. It’s also typically easier to recover from cycling than running, so you’ll be able to get back to your lifting routine in no time.


While long-distance running may not be the best for athletes on a bodybuilding track, sprinting is a great interval cardio workout that is worth trying. When you sprint, you exert all of your effort at once, followed by short periods of rest.

This is a great workout for burning fat without sacrificing muscle. Sprinting isn’t just all about running either. You can incorporate sprinting sessions on an elliptical machine, a bike, or even with a barbell or kettlebell. Basically, interval training is the key to any bodybuilding cardio workout.

The Rowing Machine

See that lonely rowing machine in the corner of the gym that no one ever seems to use? Try it! It’s important for bodybuilders to understand that cardio isn’t just about lower body; it’s meant to work the upper body too. This is where rowing comes in.

The rowing machine at the gym is a cardio workout that helps you tone your upper body while also getting your heart rate up. The back-and-forth motion is also excellent for training the core and the legs at the same time. No boat required!


If you’re new to cardio, start off slow and increase your duration and intensity periodically instead of jumping into it all at once. Low-to-moderate intensity cardio sessions may work better for some bodybuilders’ routines, so listen to your body and do what’s best for you – not necessarily what everyone at the gym is doing.

What’s your favorite cardio workout to get in shape without losing muscle mass? Help your fellow Challengers by sharing your best cardio workout tips with us in the comment section below!