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Balance Between Cardio and Liifting?


I am new to the site and over the past four to six weeks have started going to the gym once again, however, I have struggled to find a good routine.

I would like to put on a little muscle but also lean up (tone and definition are my real goals) and thus I am trying to find the right balance of cardio and weight lifting. The current cardio I do is HIIT (or the closest I can get on a treadmill) and then my lifting schedule is somewhat random.

How often should I be doing cardio and would you reccomend more muscle specific workouts or more general full body workouts? Also, is one day of rest a week enough? Or should I ideally be giving my body two days of rest a week. Any thoughts or input would be appreciated.



First word of advice, NEVER use the word "tone" again.

As far as rest goes, that is something that is determined by your own individual recovery abilities. For most guys, in the beginning 3 days of lifting is fine for the strength part of the equation. Cardio tends to be a little more specific, IMO, because some people need more than others.

In general, I would say that you need to be more specific about what your goals are. Leaning out can mean different things to different people as well as what you hope to eventually look like comes into play.


It honestly sounds like your goals are too scattered/vague to be able to make specific training recommendations.

Nonetheless, I recommend viewing weight training as the main activity that will improve your body composition, so focus should be placed on it. Cardio can help increase caloric expenditure, and thus fat loss if incorporated intelligently, but placing too much focus on it will only detract from lifting, which will ultimately limit your success.

So, start by setting up a solid weight training program 3 to 5 days per week and focus on that for several weeks to a month before introducing cardio to increase caloric expenditure. At the same time you should be modifying your diet so that you are eating appropriately to reach your goal.


From what it sounds like, you need to focus your weight training routine and worry less about your cardiovascular exercises. With a proper weight training routine and diet plan, you may not have to worry as intensely about cutting especially if you have not established a proper routine.

Also, try not to think of getting "toned" or "looking good" and instead think of how you are preparing to build your ideal physique. Doing both weight lifting and cardiovascular falls into what I believe to be a mindset that screams "I want to be cut and ripped when summer comes around" rather than someone with a true goal not superficially driven. Set up a foundation for what you are trying to accomplish, and slowly build on that towards a long-term goal.


Work out with an awesome diet and you'll lean out while putting on muscle. A beginner routine with basic compound movements is probably most beneficial to you. Go research 3x5, 5x5, full-body stuff. Do cardio on your off days for like 30 minutes and you'll be set. But the most important thing here is that your diet is more important than the cardio. Stop eating fast-food shit, eat real food with good timing, nice macro's and good portion sizes.


Could this be any more vague?

"Awesome diet", "real food", "good timing", "nice macro's", and "good portion sizes" give the OP absolutely nothing to go on.


Yea... OP, I think it would be easier if you just told us what you are currently trying so we can tweak what you are working with as far as diet and some sort of loose routine that you are trying.


First off, let me say thanks for all the replies. As you can tell, I am rather new to all of this, however, for a while now I have wanted to get more serious about it but have been unsure the best route.

Currently I am lifting about four days a week and doing cardio about four or five days a week and doubling up lifting and cardio about two of those days. Most of my lifting has been focused on the upper body as I have found in the past too much lower body lifting can make it difficult to really push the cardio. But I am assuming if I am serious about putting on my muscle I need to cut down on my cardio time.

As far as diet, I eat rather well. Minimal sugar - no soda or junk food. Lots of whole grains and protein in my diet.


Vague goals + vague advice = No progress


Cardio is dependent upon what your body responds to and what your goals are. We are obviously different, but I have no problem hitting squats and deads and then jumping rope and doing stair sprints right behind it. And right now, you have not specified specific goals nor provided any types of specific stats - height, weight, diet to go off of.

Still vague. No soda or junk food is good, but any idea on how many calories you are getting in or how much protein as well as fat? And lots of whole grains doesn't mean anything. Depending upon how your body functions and what it uses best for fuel that may or may not be a good thing.


I am 5'10 about 159. I am getting between 1800-2000 calories a day through about four or five meals a day. In regards to protein, I am around 60-80 grams of protein a day. For fat, I am not sure - I try to keep it relatively low.

In terms of goals, they are somewhat general right now because I would really just like a basic routine to get started with that will give me the chance to add a few pounds of muscle.


what helped me greatly when I was a beginner was training for strength purposes for football. It gave me a great base to work with, and now that my football career is over I do a combination of strength training and bodybuilding routines. What I would do, and Ive recommended this a lot recently, is look into WS4SB. Its a great program and since you are a beginner you will see gains rather quickly. http://www.tmuscle.com/article/bodybuilding/westside_for_skinny_bastards&cr= With that being said, If you are going to do a program like WS4SB you really need to up your calorie intake as a program like this is high intensity. Obviously, 60-80 grams of protein is not enough to make gains. Do you use protein shakes? If not, you definately need to look into it!

Side note about cardio- if you are going to do a high intensity program like this, drop the cardio all together...You will need a lot of energy to make progress, especially with your max effort days. The calories expended during this program will be enough to stay lean...and you say your 159 lbs...NO CARDIO! you want to weigh less?!? Remember, with strength comes size



Why so little protein?


The vast majority of people your size will be hard pressed to build any muscle on a diet like that.

You need to make up your mind whether you want to train to do marathons, which is how your current training and diet looks, or whether you actually want to build size.


Great suggestion. When training for strength, provided you are getting in enough calories, you are going to grow more or less by default. And at 5'9" 159 pounds, cardio is the last thing you need. When most guys are worried about getting lean, their best bet is to pack on more muscle.

And like HK and Chimera also noted, you need to get in more protein than you are. 80-90 grams isn't enough, especially if you are looking to put on muscle. You'll come across fluke cases (like mine) where you can eat like a bird and get in a small amount of protein and still grow or at least maintain muscle mass, but that isn't true for most people.


hahahaha what awesome advice. The OP should be jacked in no time. lol.



^this. If you weigh 160 and have 20 lbs of fat on you its going to look like a lot. But if you pack on muscle (especially in the shoulders, lats, chest) it'll give you the "V" shape... that same 20 lbs of fat on 180 lb person will look a lot different.


(i dont know if my post makes sense and you're getting what I'm trying to say but I hope so)