You’ll get as many answers as there are athletes…
But I can tell you what works best for me in a contest prep:
I believe cardio is important and I don’t get in shape without it. I think the main goal doing cardio is to increase energy turnover. There is nothing magical about any form of cardio.
Though I need cardio to get in shape, I still try to keep it to a minimum. I prefer to keep my weight lifting volume as high as possible.
I start by doing 1-2 sessions a week. Of which one would be a HIIT session of about 20 minutes and the other one a steady state session for 45 minutes.
After 4 weeks of prep or “when needed” I start to increase the amount of cardio I do. I usually end up doing 2 HIIT sessions and 2 steady state sessions a week.
On top of that, 6 weeks out or so I often add 15 minutes walking at 15Ã?Â° on the treadmill after my weight lifting sessions. Those walks are very, very easy and just meant to increase energy turnover a bit.
I never, ever do cardio in a completely fasted state. I found that to eat up muscle mass quickly.
So when I jump out of bed, I have a cup of black coffee with a scoop of whey protein isolate mixed in.
During the cardio I sip on a BCAA drink (20g BCAA).
This way, I still profit from the carb depleted state my body is in, but don’t burn muscle mass.
I can’t bear more than 2 HIIT sessions a week. Did up to 7 in the past but it burns me out. I believe the impact on the nervous system is significant.
I try to do as much NEPA (non-exercise physical activity) as possible. This includes not taking the car but walking to the next store, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.
I can’t agree enough with the HIIT being extremely taxing.
I used to do it 4 times a week and weight lift the other 3 days, this was during what I call the dark ages because I didn’t know anything.
It was a fat loss phase which actually turned out to be an extremely effective muscle loss phase.
Needless to say I haven’t done HIIT in the two years since, if I was to do so I would do it maybe once or twice a week. These days I’m usually only jogging for about 10-15minutes once - twice a week. It depends on how much I am actually training in the gym.
Right now that works out to be 6 sessions in the gym a week push/pull/legs, AM and PM workouts one for strength and one for hypertrophy. For a relative beginner/low intermediate like myself it works extremely well as a form of cardio as well as a general lifting program.
I’ve tried splits, total body workouts and none of them quite work like two a days for getting lean whilst gaining muscle. (Granted a lot depends on diet as well)
– Speaking of diet,
Currently I workout mon/tue/wed & fri/sat/sun I’m typically in the gym for 45 minutes each session, maybe slightly more on pull day as the back is my weakest area.
I’m gaining weight and losing size on my waist, I’m taking photos and size measurements every two weeks. Things are going well.
Overtraining isn’t going to happen to someone at my level even with this amount of lifting as long as diet is fine.
Typically my diet is as follows on workout days.
Wake: Oats, 1 pint of Milk, 1 bowl of Vanilla Yoghurt - if I can stomach it I have a bacon and egg toasted sandwich too.
Snack: Super shake - 3 eggs, 1 banana, 1 pint of milk, 1 tbsp jam, half cup yoghurt 1 tsp l-glutamine powder blended up.
Lunch: tuna + mayo bagels and 1 pint of milk
Snack: 3 boiled eggs + 2 Flameout pint of milk
dinner: Whatever is cooked for everyone in the house, burgers = 3 half pound burgers, pizza = a whole pizza, so on. and a pint of milk
Snack: super shake
Snack: Another bagel and a pint of milk!
before bed: two Flameout, yes more MILK!
It seems to be working right now, once I reach 200lbs I’m going to be eating a lot more chicken, veggies and stuff like that and cut down on the milk. But its cheap and keeps me going right now during the training sessions I’m doing.
On a non training day I cut out a few of the later in the day snacks and drink less milk…
Keeps carbs and fats lower, protein drops off a bit too but I’m getting some whey protein soon so that’ll be in check.