MIS37 saidHey guys I'm currently in a bulking phase till March, however, I'm currently at 176 lbs with 12% body fat but I have not been able to do any sort of ab nor cardio since school started. I'm really worried because I'm not exactly sure if I should be doing cardio if so how much and same thing with ab work outs. Can anyone offer some tips or advice of how I should go about this? Or should my concern for abs be saved for my cutting phase as well?
Your abs are a muscle. Their size and strength needs to constantly be maintained (or improved) like all other muscles. You need to work on the abs all the time, both during bulking and cutting. That doesn't mean go overboard by working on them for an hour. Just do like an ab exercise or two (total 3-6 sets) at the end of your workout, every other day, or even every third day is fine. A lot of people spend way too much time on their abs, thinking that it burns midsection fat. It doesn't. It only improves your ab nuscles, so that they'll look more impressive after you've lost the bodyfat.
Personally, I don't recommend bulking and cutting phases. Do you compete? If not, then just do "clean bulking". Bulk up, but without spiraling your bodyfat level out of control.
Cardio: you can do HIIT, or you can go for a brisk walk, either uphill on the treadmill or outside in a hilly area, for a good 15-30 minutes. Maybe every day for 15 minutes, or 30 minutes for 3-4 days a week. Combined with clean eating, and figuring out the amount of carbs you need to have enough energy to be able to lift and grow without getting too pudgy (some trial and error will be needed here), you'll be able to stay relatively lean while growing.
Another option: you can make "cardio sessions" out of many of your lifts. Supersets are a great way to do this. Your priority should be muscle growth. But supersets get your heart rate up, and will burn fat or at least keep it in check. There's different superset combos you can do as a trick for hypertrophy (muscle growth), such as pre-exhaust, post-exhaust, opposing muscle groups to save time in the gym, etc, etc, and the added benefit is that the superset works as "cardio" as well. Drop sets and rest-pause are also neat hypertrophy-intended tricks that also get the heart rate up.
Stay away from medium-intensity steady-state cardio, like jogging for miles and miles. It burns muscle and preserves bodyfat. You want any "cardio" you do to be either low-intensity (like brisk walking), or short bursts of energy with rests to catch your breath and let your heart rate go up and down (both HIIT and the lifting methods I told you about meet this criteria).
But bottom line: I wouldn't obsess with cardio. If you notice your heart rate goes up and down during your lifting sessions, then you're getting cardio right there. And then, on a nice day, go for walk outside, somewhere hilly, get your mp3 player, walk up some stairs too. Don't overthink it. Just stay away from jogging.