Does Cardio Kill Gains?

Most people think cardio is the last thing you should do if you want to build a lot of muscle. But the year I had the biggest physique transformation of my life involved a large increase in aerobic volume alongside my existing weight training (and plenty of fuel). Weights + more cardio = lean bulking and better recovery to push intensity with weights further, as long as you’re eating enough. I’ll break it down for you along with a CARDIO CHEST WORKOUT in a Functional Bodybuilding training format I absolutely love: Aerobic Bodybuilding!


Cardio while you weight train can help support lean bulking, so you won’t kill your gains. This is the Move more + Eat more concept. 

  • 2000 cal output + 2200 cal input = surplus of 10%
  • 4000 cal output + 4400 cal input = surplus of 10%

The latter option means more contractions, more activity, more breakdown and rebuilding of tissue, and an overall harder and leaner look to the tissue.

Furthermore, better aerobic fitness means your muscle tissue recovers faster from all types of training – allowing you to push your lifting intensity further.

For these two reasons, Aerobic training combined with lifting weights will forever be part of my approach to fitness as a result of the years that I saw my body transform with CrossFit sport training. But since we all don’t aspire to win the CrossFit games, I am always looking for ways to incorporate both cardio and lifting together in safe and effective ways. One of those ways is through sessions I call Aerobic Bodybuilding.

Cardio Chest Gains Workout

  • Set Time to keep you focused – 40min Workout
  • Rest Periods between exercises become useful and active cardio
  • Aerobic blood flow and higher repetition chest/tricep movements give you a motivating pump
  • Metabolic stress replaces the need for Mechanical stress from heavy loading
  • Muscle endurance focus helps establish capillary beds in the tissue making these muscles more resilient to training intensity and able to recover better for other training types.
  • Cardio volume close to 25-30mins of work
  • Total Contractions – 240 reps in this workout

Does cardio kill gains?40min Clock:

Minute 0 – 20:

Easy Run Continuous
At minutes 5,10,15 and 20 get off the runner and perform

  • 8 KB Incline Bench Press
  • 10 Tall Kneeling KB Horn Tricep Extensions
  • 12 KB Push Ups

Minute 20 – 40:

Easy Bike Continuous 
At minutes 25,30,35 and 40 get off the runner and perform

  • 8 Kettlebell Bench Press
  • 10 Bench Dips
  • 12 Banded Tricep Push Downs

How should these feel? The way these sets will shake out are such that you will spend approximately 3min on the bike or runner for every round. This is sufficient time for you to get into an aerobic flow. You get to pick your own pace here but the idea is to get the breathing up, feeling the blood pumping around your body, but never feel like you need to stop. You should be able to hold this pace for 30mins non-stop. As your fitness improves you can increase your pace slightly and still have great energy for the lifts.

The lifting complexes in this ABB example are redundant. Each move hits the same general muscle groups, the CHEST and TRICEPS. Because of the back to back nature of these redundant exercises, these GIANT sets will all compliment one another to deliver a very focused pump and local muscle stress even without lots of weight. You should choose loads that allow you to knock these reps out in a single set and not require breaks.


Give this workout a try and see for yourself how to blend cardio and weights without sacrificing the strength and performance you love. 

For a deeper dive, pick up my Aerobic Bodybuilder Ebook for an 8 week progressive training build using this style. We also hit this workouts every Thursday as active recovery in the Persist training subscription.


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