A solution to cardio-vascular maintenance during hypertrophy training phases.
When your client wants to train for muscle mass, it’s important to strike a balance between nutrition, recovery and of course an intense, high volume, frequent and varied training regime. You need to create a state where your customer’s body has a positive caloric balance along with adequate macro/micro nutrients, delivered to the tissues at high frequency to keep up with the estimated 48-72hr tissue turnover that occurs as a result of each gruelling muscle building session. Consequently, there is an increased need for rest and recovery to allow for protein synthesis to gain full momentum, particularly during non-training days and the deeper levels of the sleep cycle.
Perception of CV and Hypertrophy Training Phases
With this in mind, it’s easy to see that mixing in high volume CV training, may work counter to the desired anabolic state described above, which leads to many individuals significantly reducing or even eliminating CV from their routines during hypertrophy training phases in an attempt to eliminate muscle wastage associated with stress hormones and reduced calorie surplus.
Although logical, it’s possible that this approach could have some unwanted side effects, such as increased body fat, reduced recovery time, reduced insulin sensitivity, increased resting blood pressure, reduced VO2max and feelings of sluggishness/low energy.
Furthermore it is common for individuals to try and condense their main session into a 45-50 min block, to minimise the onset of catabolic hormones, but in order to squeeze in a good 20-25 intense sets, it’s essential that the individual has a strong aerobic base fitness, to facilitate a fast recovery rate. This coupled with the other potential downfalls listed above could provide rationale for a fresh approach towards the relationship between muscle mass and cardio-vascular exercise.
CV Solution to achieve enhanced Hypertrophy results and health benefits
HIIT training such as Tabata (20seconds of maximal exercise and 10seconds of rest repeated 8 times for 4-minutes), has been shown to improve VO2max, improve insulin sensitivity and help reduce body fat percentage. The short and intense nature of this training also ensures that the catabolic effects associated with steady state, long-slow duration training are minimised and hypertrophy gains may even be accelerated in the lower extremities, particularly if we adopt a heavy resistance, sprint cycling approach using a indoor cycling bike.
Try introducing 2-3 Tabata sessions per week, at the tail end of your resistance training sessions. This way your rest-days will not have to house your CV sessions, allowing for more recovery and the higher frequency, will surely have more pronounced CV benefits than doing 1 half-hearted steady state session per week. To get the most out of this approach, be sure to build a strong aerobic/muscular endurance foundation before you start any bulking/high volume hypertrophy phases, and include some lactate interval training. Try it out and let me know how it effects your routine and more importantly – your results. Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments boxes below.
By Nikos Skevis
Premier Global NASM Lead Tutor
Reference to Tabata benefits
Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1996 Oct;28(10):1327-30.
Effects of moderate-intensity endurance and high-intensity intermittent training on anaerobic capacity and VO2max.
Tabata I1, Nishimura K, Kouzaki M, Hirai Y, Ogita F, Miyachi M,