T Nation

Best time for cardio?

I am currently cutting and following the OVT program with some HIIT. I am unable to do HIIT on my off days due to my schedule. Should the HIIT sessions be before or after a workout?

The way I like to look at it is this. Which form is more important to you? Is it more important to have proper form when you’re benching 300lbs or jogging at 5mph? Is it more important to have proper form when squatting 400lbs or doing an all out sprint?

If you perform HIIT before you session your CNS will most likely have taken a tremendous shot. You will most likely not be able to perform your resistance training at its peak level. So my opinion is that you do it after. Drink your Surge or whatever as normal, throughout your workout then right after, then do your HIIT. By the time you get home you will be in that magic Surge window of 1-2 hours after your serving and it is time to have a meal according to your goals.

Hope this helps!

I agree with PGA generally but doing a volume based training regimen, your CNS comes into play less than if you were doing CNS-intense w/o’s like Westside or say, a 90% of 1rep max day. Also, if truly doing HIIT, then you’re running real hard and intensely, not 5 mph. So, I think, based on your volume regimen, run first. Plus, doing a volume w/o, I always feel ‘pumped’ and that condition would affect my sprint form.

PGA is correct. I have also heard that doing HIIT after a weight training session is more effective because your body is already fatigued from the weight training and it takes more energy to do HIIT. Don’t know if this is true or not so if someone can weigh in and confirm or deny this statement we’ll all learn something.

Scipio 5mp is the jog portion. The sprint portion is all out. Just to end some confusion.

OVT and CNS not coming into play? You must not have tried OVT or done it properly. I can tell you first hand that OVT is draining on the CNS if done as described WITH proper weight %.

PGA, my bad, I confused OVT by CT, with GVT. The OVT 5X5 compound exercise followed by 5X5 isolation regimen would be a heavier weight load certainly than 10 sets X 10 reps…OVT is actually a program that I’m going to try. That being cleared up, run 2nd.

In general I prefer to do HIIT training after the workout if can?t be done on off days. Drink a surgery/protein liquid: Surge before, during, after and Powerade before the HIIT. OVT and HIIT are both very taxing so make sure your recovery capacity is optimal. In other words eat a lot, sleep a lot, and be happy (limit stress). Hope that helps!

Thanks for the help so far guys! I just have one more quick question. How long are your HIIT sessions?

If you can do HIIT for more than 30 minutes then its not at a high enough intensity. I generally keep mine under 15 minutes. If you’re going over that time look to increasing the sprint or high intensity portion of HIIT. If you do that you wont be able to go longer.


If you haven’t already, check out CT’s “Running Man” article. It’ll give you sample interval sessions based on your current level of conditioning. I think the general guideline is to go around 15 minutes.

Just stick with intervals running at 80%-90% of max speed. I wouldnt recommend going all out sprinting all the time. Charlie francis is an expert at this stuff.

Didn’t CT already cover this in his Running Man article? I think he talked about it when incorporating strength training somewhere in the forum. Do a search for it.

Generally when doing HIIT cardio, do it on lifting days. You probably can do tempo running on non lifting days which is like interval running but over a longer distance like 400M which isn’t as stressful as 50-100M on CNS. I prefer 400M.

Yes, he does cover this in Running Man. I do mine after working out. I am doing ABBH right now. After that I put in 15 minutes of hiit. 2 minute warmup, with 9 cycles (15sec/45), then a 4 mnute cooldown. It seems to be going well.

Your question answered by the greatest minds!!


Here’s the two optimal ways I’ve found to do cardio.

  1. Low-intensity/Long-duration 1st thing in the morning on an empty stomach.

  2. 15-20 minutes of HIT. Anytime, as long as you’ve had a protein supplement beforehand and it’s at least 8 hours apart from your weight training. If you don’t allow for recovery, your recuperative abilities will be severely hampered.

Just a few thoughts.