How to use cardio to give your body a killer shape!

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You’ve seen this many times, the thin, sinewy marathon runner and the muscled bodybuilder.

On the one end of the scale you have the marathon runner who does zero resistance training and 100% cardio training. On the other end of the scale you have the muscled bodybuilder who does 100% resistance training and zero cardio training.

Cardio, all forms of cardio, is one of the best ways to manipulate your muscle size and provide incredible aesthetic shape to the body.

If you wish to have maximum muscles well, do not do any cardio, only resistance training and if you wish a thin, sinewy physique then do just cardio and no resistance training.

But the key to a great physique is by manipulating these factors wisely.

One thing you need to understand and that is that a physique without decent muscle size will be shapeless, with clothes on and off. A physique (men and women) that produce a “wow” effect MUST have a decent amount of muscles on its frame. THAT is what will give the aesthetic shape. If you just start doing intense cardio but never build up your muscle size of your body via resistance training, you will never have a great looking body!

Now, obviously, if your dream is a classic muscled bodybuilder physique, then simply ignore cardio and concentrate ONLY on resistance training. But most of us want a fit looking, aesthetically shaped physique that looks “wow” with and without clothes.

The road to such a “wow” physique start by applying the following basic principles:

  1. Start by doing 40-50min resistance training for 4-5 days per week.(see the following link for programs and diet: It must be resistance training to failure to ignite growth and a focused diet to support the growth and training regime. Do not do cardio until such point that you have reached the desired muscle size level. Note: Do free weights instead of machines – machines bypass most support muscles and target specific muscles, thus why most people who stick to machines never really achieved a truly aesthetic shape but muscles always seems to be not balanced. Free weights = aesthetic body shape!
  2. When you have reached the desired muscle size, then start introducing 20 min cardio on top of your resistance training regime, 5-6 times per week for one month. Monitor the effect closely.
  3. By month two if your physique still appear to muscled instead of fit looking aesthetic shape, cut your resistance training sessions by roughly a third in total sets done and increase the cardio to 40 min durations for 5-6 days per week. With this amount of cardio the body WILL respond and by making size slightly smaller and give a more fit looking appearance resulting overall in a more aesthetic pleasing looking physique.
  4. Cardio can eventually be increased to an 60 min duration but preferably not more. Never drop the resistance training completely or the muscles will start disappearing. Keep resistance training (to failure) at a min of 30 for 4-5 times per week.

Note on cardio. Not all cardio are the same. If you want the best possible looking aesthetic physique then your cardio needs to be something like swimming. Jogging, Cycling and other forms of “leg” cardio will produce results but not in the class that swimming does. Swimming coupled with resistance training is well-known to create the best looking physiques.

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SO fire away and make your dream body a reality!

Happy training


Gert Louw

How to use cardio


4 thoughts on “How to use cardio to give your body a killer shape!

  1. Hi Gert,

    Thanks for sharing your tremendous knowledge base – your results are inspiring!

    I’m getting ready to gear up with workouts and diet changes per your protocol but curious if I can do 60 minutes of cardio per day if I keep it strictly to walking (so technically it’s cardio, but low impact)?

    I ask after reading a book by Chauncey Crandall, M.D. (called The Simple Heart Cure) who says one can provoke collateral blood vessel growth if one can sustain that level of walking every day (which I want given some heart issues I’ve experienced)?

    I realize you allow your acolytes 15 minutes of cardio with the knowledge that this shouldn’t affect muscle gains but I’m also wondering if the assumption was that it would be running or swimming which this of course isn’t. Your thoughts?



    1. Will thanks for the kind comments. First, one thing no-one can dispute is that cardio is GREAT for health. But alas, cardio is bad for muscle size. This does not matter which type cardio, walking, running, swimming. Cardio always limits muscle growth. Sure walking would have the least impact of probably all cardio exercises but nonetheless it will still have an impact. It is all about your goals. Are your only goal size or is it rather a mixture of fitness + health + muscles. If the latter is the case then you will get away with some walk cardio. BUT growth will be at a slower pace than compared to a guy doing zero cardio.

  2. No pool where I workout, so I’ve been using HIT cardio: 2 min walking, 2 min jogging, 1 min running; done 5x, total time:27 minutes. this is coupled with 5 weekly sessions of resistance training. Saturdays are reserved to abs using resistance exercises and stretching. I’m 65 and follow your advice regularly. Have a great day!

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