The Best Cardio for Female Bodybuilders – The Definitive Guide

When it comes to shredding season, every bodybuilder faces the same situation – how best to burn through that extra layer of fat for HD, 3D eye-popping muscle definition.

The Best Cardio for Female Bodybuilders – The Definitive Guide

Diet is a great way to get the show started, but the right cardio for female bodybuilders is essential to give you that extra edge on the stage. The problem is, there are so many different ideas on how to lose weight, without losing muscle. Knowing where to start is the first issue.

Don’t worry girl, we got you. We’ve broken down the facts behind fat loss for bodybuilders, and created a handy guide on exactly what cardio you need to be doing and why. Read on for that competition-winning shred.

Article preview:

  • Do female bodybuilders need cardio?
  • HIIT it – does it work?
  • HIIT for body builders
  • Should you try LISS?
  • Is running OK?
  • Supplementation


Do female bodybuilders need cardio?

You’ve built muscle and girl, you’re looking pretty damn good. You’re serving booty, you’re toned and you’re the envy of every other girl in the weights room. Do you really need cardio?

It depends on what you want and what you’re trying to achieve in the gym. If you’re building muscle then don’t go anywhere near that treadmill. You need to be in a calorie surplus to grow your physique and cardio could end up burning more than you eat. Definitely keep your cardio to a minimum if bulking season is in full swing.

However, if you’re shredding down for that competition-ready, super-defined physique, cardio can really help achieve that next level sculpted look.

You might have your diet nailed and your higher muscle density makes burning through fat a breeze. However, if you’re gonna hit the big leagues, you’ll need to give yourself an edge. That’s cardio.

We’re not saying get on the treadmill and stay there. Far from it. If you train smart, you can achieve stage-ready perfection, without losing your gains.


Woman swinging kettlebell for a workout

Add weight exercises like kettle bell swings to your workout to up the ante

HIIT it – does it work?

Erm, hell yeah it works.

The well-known and commonly used HIIT training is a hardcore, fat-blasting, muscle-defining form of cardio for body builders.

This is all about power. Whether you’re doing an interval sprint session or a legs day finisher, this type of workout is designed to get your body working to its maximum – we’re no stranger to that girls.

By working at such a powerful rate for short periods, you’re actually telling your body you need strength, so you can maintain the muscles you’ve created in the weights room.

What’s more, a lung-bursting HIIT session can take place really quickly. The maximum amount of time you should be spending on your interval training should be around 20 minutes. So you can smash out a fat-burning workout and be home in no time.

The highly intense nature of a HIIT workout means that rather than turning to carbs for an energy source, your body actually begins to use the excess fat around your body. You heard us right – it focusses right in on the fat.

If you’re not already a HIIT convert, you’re about to be. Not only does it burn up to 30% more calories than your less intense resistance training, it also raises your metabolic rate and keeps it raised for up to 24 hours after you’ve finished working out. That means you’re still burning through fat for a day afterward.


HIIT for bodybuilders

HIIT also has a smart edge that we know you weight lifting ladies will love. With some clever training techniques you can get rid of fat, and maintain your muscle at the same time – if not help them grow.

A study looked into the female participants taking part in a 12-week HIIT training plan. After completing 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training three times a week, the women lost on average 2% bodyfat and gained almost two pounds of muscle.

As a bodybuilder, including weights in your HIIT workout alongside bodyweight movements will add an extra, muscle-building element to your session. We’re not talking crazy heavy, just a little extra resistance will give your body more to work with.


Should you try LISS?

This is the more chilled out little sister to our well-known HIIT. LISS is an acronym for Low-Intensity Steady State cardio.

Where HIIT is short, sharp and intense, LISS is longer, slower and a tiny bit more boring. For years LISS has been used as a fat burner as it puts your heart rate right in the fat burning zone for prolonged periods of time.

It’s often said that it will help you melt away fat, without breaking down your hard-earned muscle. However, research shows this might not be the case.

The same study showed that women who took part in steady-state exercise only lost 0.3% body fat and lost an average of a pound of muscle too. By spending a long time in an aerobic state, your body begins to adapt to this type of training, reducing your muscle gains slightly.

It’s definitely not the most effective way for a body builder to trim down on fat.


Woman running on a treadmill

Should you include runs to burn fat?

Is running OK?

We’ve all seen them. They spend hours on the treadmill, dripping with sweat pounding out a long-ass workout – runners. Where do they find the time or motivation?! Don’t worry girl, we know that’s not you.

You’re a strong boss girl, who knows that the key to a head-turning beach-bod and killer curves is in the weights room, not on the treadmill.

Spending hours on the running machine does the exact opposite of maintenance. Carrying a lot of muscle can actually add a lot of strain to your joints when you’re running and can break down the muscle you’ve painstakingly crafted onto your body. Just as your body adapts to lifting weights by becoming stronger, it adapts to running by shedding those muscles in favor of a more lightweight, runners frame.

Girl, we don’t need that. It’s a hard no from us.

No matter how much a runner tells you it’s a great idea to hit the long runs to burn fat, remember the hours you put in for those gains girl. The most we recommend you do at SMG is a sprints. They’re short, sharp, and require power so you don’t have to worry about muscle loss.



If you’re looking to take your physique prowess to the next level, your body needs all the help it can get to push it to the max. That’s where careful supplementation comes in.

Your body gets the most fat-burning benefits out of a HIIT workout by pushing itself to the absolute max. That means you need the right chemical balances in your body for an explosive session. A pre-workout designed to help you fulfil your full potential will maximize the effort you put in.

To complement that, a fat-burner will take your efforts in the cardio workout to the next level.

With some smart cardio training for body builders and the right supplementation, your body will be perfectly primed for optimum fat burning.


Shredded perfection is just a few workout alterations away girls. Introduce a few HIIT workouts into your weekly routine and you can say goodbye to excess fat and hello to beautifully sculpted muscle definition.



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