T Nation

Cardio and Abs

To all of the bodybuilders out there, how much cardio do you typically do per week when cutting? I’m not a bodybuilder but rather and aspiring powerlifter who has recently suffered a complete pectoral tendon tear and had surgery. As I rehab this summer all I’m able to do is cardio and abdominal stuff, so I’d like to use it as an opportunity to get a decent looking stomach for the first time in my life.

I’m currently doing between 30 and 60 minutes of intense training on the stairmill 6 days per week, abs every other day on average. My diet is really good at the moment (I think). I’m consuming around 100g of carbs per day, 50-75grams of which are consumed after my workouts in the form of oatmeal and some fruit. Everything else is vegetables, tuna, eggs, healthy fats, etc.

Meal frequency is every 3-4 hours. Any and all advice would be appreciated from anyone. It’s kind of complicated for me right now as I cannot do any upper body resistance work, so my metabolism is being stimulated less than if I was. Oh, and all cardio is done in the morning on an empty stomach. Thanks!

Did you just start doing what you described above?

I don’t thinking jumping right in with 6 days a week for an hour is a good idea… Where do you go from there, ya know? The most important thing is to make sure and get your diet dialed in.

If I was you I would start with 20-30 minutes 3-4 days a week on top of your normal lifting (which I know is less than normal because of your injury) then as far loss begins to stall you can either lower calories a bit or increase cardio.

I just don’t think it’s the best idea to jump hard and heavy into a big time caloric deficit or a large amount of cardio because it doesn’t leave you many options when things begin to slow down.

I agree with Gregon,

You need to establish a baseline of food and activity that has you losing 1-2 pounds a week. Once you find that plan, which may take a few weeks, keep executing that plan and increase activity or decrease the food a little bit when the fat loss stops.

You are a power lifter, what if someone said “I want to squat big, so I’m going to start squatting 12 sets of 20 reps to failure, 6 days a week” … Probably not the smartest idea in the world.

Slow and steady always wins the race.

Probably average about 30-45 minutes of cardio every day. Some more than others.

[quote]gregron wrote:
Did you just start doing what you described above?

I don’t thinking jumping right in with 6 days a week for an hour is a good idea… Where do you go from there, ya know? The most important thing is to make sure and get your diet dialed in.

If I was you I would start with 20-30 minutes 3-4 days a week on top of your normal lifting (which I know is less than normal because of your injury) then as far loss begins to stall you can either lower calories a bit or increase cardio.

I just don’t think it’s the best idea to jump hard and heavy into a big time caloric deficit or a large amount of cardio because it doesn’t leave you many options when things begin to slow down.[/quote]

should have noted that I’ve actually been building up to this since my injury which was the first week of march. soo i’ve been at the cardio for about two months now, but it’s only just gotten more intense in the last few weeks since i’ve gotten home from college and have access to a stairmill. in march i started just with intense walking on an incline 30 minutes a day 4-5 times per week, starting working some elliptical trainer in their too, and by the end of the school year i was just going balls out on the elliptical 4-5 times per week for 30 minutes at a time. diet was a progression over that time. at first i just started cutting portion sizes, then started watching shitty carbs, and now i like to think im close to where i want to be diet wise. so yeah im not jump into this all at once it’s been a progression over the last 2 months. just curious how much you think would be appropriate for someone who wants a good looking set of abs. i agree with everything you said though, it’s just not the case for me. i’ve been at it for a little while now. oh and also there is no lifting for me whatsoever at this point, so cardio and abs sessions are all ive got.

OH! forget to mention that because of my diet and cardio up to this point i’ve lost 35lbs. i was 250 at the time of the injury, and yes i’ve lost a good bit of muscle mass as well but definitely a lot of fat too. And thanks to everyone who responded so far who i didn’t quote. the input is greatly appreciated

You can’t do like leg extensions and stuff with a torn pec?

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
You can’t do like leg extensions and stuff with a torn pec?[/quote]

yeah i technically can, just those and leg curls…i don’t have access to a proper leg press unfortunately. ive been doing extensions and curls here and there…no real organization though. just sporadic. ill be honest it’s tough to motivate myself to do just those two things you know? especially when all you want to do is real training. somehow ive not lost a ton of size in my legs either. most of my size losses seem to be in the chest shoulders and arms.

[quote]JLederach wrote:

[quote]DoubleDuce wrote:
You can’t do like leg extensions and stuff with a torn pec?[/quote]

yeah i technically can, just those and leg curls…i don’t have access to a proper leg press unfortunately. ive been doing extensions and curls here and there…no real organization though. just sporadic. ill be honest it’s tough to motivate myself to do just those two things you know? especially when all you want to do is real training. somehow ive not lost a ton of size in my legs either. most of my size losses seem to be in the chest shoulders and arms.
[/quote]

lunges, pistols, calf work, belt squats, hyper extension, GHRs, calisthenics, box jumps, est

Should be plenty you can do.

yeah i think ill start incorporating some bodyweight lunges, more calf work and stuff like that. still cant reach my arm back to grip a bar squatting. just started rehab last week and dont have even close to full r.o.m. yet. perhaps some one armed smith machine squats though?

[quote]JLederach wrote:
yeah i think ill start incorporating some bodyweight lunges, more calf work and stuff like that. still cant reach my arm back to grip a bar squatting. just started rehab last week and dont have even close to full r.o.m. yet. perhaps some one armed smith machine squats though?[/quote]

Belt squats or sissy squats maybe.

what do you mean by belt squats? isn’t that just a way of saying squatting with a belt?

Discuss anything you want to do with your therapist. No sense in re injuring yourself with something that you think is harmless. any load bearing, even with a smith machine may cause a contraction on that tendon in the form of bracing or resisting movement and may be contraindicated.
How long do you wait post workout to eat? I have recently read something that presents the case that a delay may actually be better. Give a chance for the free fatty acids to clear.
I see that you are actually cranking up the intensity of the work you are doing. That makes more sense then the duration. I wish I could find the study, but I remember reading that the amount of calories burned for a task decreased when the task became more familiar. Recommended was to change the intensity, change the task (treadmill, stairstepper, elliptical).
The afterburn effect, EPOC, continually cited as the complete equation was shown in one study to not be much.
LaForgia J et. al. Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. J Sports Sci. 2006 Dec;24(12):1247-64.
All in all, exercise as the instrument of caloric deficit may actually be effective when one is a very well trained in the task, ala the much ballyhooed Tabata protocol.
The frequent feeding idea has been blown apart with another study for a few reasons. The study
Bellisle F et. al. Meal frequency and energy balance. Br J Nutr. (1997) 77 (Suppl 1):S57-70.
The reason is, yes eating more frequently will increase the thermal effect of food, but it don’t do diddly when the calories in a day remain the same. 5 meals in a day will cause an increase 5 times. OK fine. 2 meals will only increase the TEF twice. It amounts to a net nothing when it is 5 feedings of 500 Kcal as opposed to 2 of 1250. Sure, if you eat 5 meals of 500 the thermal effect of food will be higher than 2 meals of 500. And what if a very lean person has a low maintenance need? Are they really going to benefit with 6 meals of 10 calories? (exaggeration to clarify)
My take on it is that your higher intensity work can be complimented nicely when you follow it with longer duration lower intensity work. Wait to eat and reap higher benefits.
Intermittent fasting has some interesting research too. Give it a little scan if you’d like
Best of luck to you on your recovery.

But with weights instead of the machine.

[quote]JLederach wrote:
what do you mean by belt squats? isn’t that just a way of saying squatting with a belt?[/quote]
these are belt squats

[quote]jp_dubya wrote:
Discuss anything you want to do with your therapist. No sense in re injuring yourself with something that you think is harmless. any load bearing, even with a smith machine may cause a contraction on that tendon in the form of bracing or resisting movement and may be contraindicated.
How long do you wait post workout to eat? I have recently read something that presents the case that a delay may actually be better. Give a chance for the free fatty acids to clear.
I see that you are actually cranking up the intensity of the work you are doing. That makes more sense then the duration. I wish I could find the study, but I remember reading that the amount of calories burned for a task decreased when the task became more familiar. Recommended was to change the intensity, change the task (treadmill, stairstepper, elliptical).
The afterburn effect, EPOC, continually cited as the complete equation was shown in one study to not be much.
LaForgia J et. al. Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. J Sports Sci. 2006 Dec;24(12):1247-64.
All in all, exercise as the instrument of caloric deficit may actually be effective when one is a very well trained in the task, ala the much ballyhooed Tabata protocol.
The frequent feeding idea has been blown apart with another study for a few reasons. The study
Bellisle F et. al. Meal frequency and energy balance. Br J Nutr. (1997) 77 (Suppl 1):S57-70.
The reason is, yes eating more frequently will increase the thermal effect of food, but it don’t do diddly when the calories in a day remain the same. 5 meals in a day will cause an increase 5 times. OK fine. 2 meals will only increase the TEF twice. It amounts to a net nothing when it is 5 feedings of 500 Kcal as opposed to 2 of 1250. Sure, if you eat 5 meals of 500 the thermal effect of food will be higher than 2 meals of 500. And what if a very lean person has a low maintenance need? Are they really going to benefit with 6 meals of 10 calories? (exaggeration to clarify)
My take on it is that your higher intensity work can be complimented nicely when you follow it with longer duration lower intensity work. Wait to eat and reap higher benefits.
Intermittent fasting has some interesting research too. Give it a little scan if you’d like
Best of luck to you on your recovery.
[/quote]

yeah man i dont think im gonna do any loading ill just be doing bodyweight stuff at the moment. lunges, box jumps, etc. perhaps just some bodyweight squats for now. one of the reasons i havent tried much for my legs is because i dont want a freak accident to happen and reinjure myself. and id say i eat about 30 minutes after morning cardio. ill bump that to an hour or so maybe? and all of that is really good info i appreciate it. intermittent fasting seems interesting as well. that would be an 8 hour feeding window following by a 16 hour fast correct? the only thing ive wondered about it is what the limits are for eating during that window. ill give it some research. thanks for all of the info man.

where could i get one of those belts??? i definitely have those step up things at my gym.

[quote]JLederach wrote:

[quote]jp_dubya wrote:
Discuss anything you want to do with your therapist. No sense in re injuring yourself with something that you think is harmless. any load bearing, even with a smith machine may cause a contraction on that tendon in the form of bracing or resisting movement and may be contraindicated.
How long do you wait post workout to eat? I have recently read something that presents the case that a delay may actually be better. Give a chance for the free fatty acids to clear.
I see that you are actually cranking up the intensity of the work you are doing. That makes more sense then the duration. I wish I could find the study, but I remember reading that the amount of calories burned for a task decreased when the task became more familiar. Recommended was to change the intensity, change the task (treadmill, stairstepper, elliptical).
The afterburn effect, EPOC, continually cited as the complete equation was shown in one study to not be much.
LaForgia J et. al. Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. J Sports Sci. 2006 Dec;24(12):1247-64.
All in all, exercise as the instrument of caloric deficit may actually be effective when one is a very well trained in the task, ala the much ballyhooed Tabata protocol.
The frequent feeding idea has been blown apart with another study for a few reasons. The study
Bellisle F et. al. Meal frequency and energy balance. Br J Nutr. (1997) 77 (Suppl 1):S57-70.
The reason is, yes eating more frequently will increase the thermal effect of food, but it don’t do diddly when the calories in a day remain the same. 5 meals in a day will cause an increase 5 times. OK fine. 2 meals will only increase the TEF twice. It amounts to a net nothing when it is 5 feedings of 500 Kcal as opposed to 2 of 1250. Sure, if you eat 5 meals of 500 the thermal effect of food will be higher than 2 meals of 500. And what if a very lean person has a low maintenance need? Are they really going to benefit with 6 meals of 10 calories? (exaggeration to clarify)
My take on it is that your higher intensity work can be complimented nicely when you follow it with longer duration lower intensity work. Wait to eat and reap higher benefits.
Intermittent fasting has some interesting research too. Give it a little scan if you’d like
Best of luck to you on your recovery.
[/quote]

yeah man i dont think im gonna do any loading ill just be doing bodyweight stuff at the moment. lunges, box jumps, etc. perhaps just some bodyweight squats for now. one of the reasons i havent tried much for my legs is because i dont want a freak accident to happen and reinjure myself. and id say i eat about 30 minutes after morning cardio. ill bump that to an hour or so maybe? and all of that is really good info i appreciate it. intermittent fasting seems interesting as well. that would be an 8 hour feeding window following by a 16 hour fast correct? the only thing ive wondered about it is what the limits are for eating during that window. ill give it some research. thanks for all of the info man.
[/quote]
You nailed the nuts and bolts of IF. It has a high compliance from what I have seen because of its simplicity. As far as the limits, use the mirror and the scale. You’ll get it dialed in. How long to wait? hmmm. If you are really knocking it out with intensity in the bursts, and doing an extended lower intensity, your body is primed to replace muscle glycogen as a priority at that point and the only source is energy stores. I would think an hour would be pretty good. Good lean protein food source might help more than concern over carbs. One guy says two hours will maximize the GH response, but that may be too long for my liking. It then points to preworkout nutrition too, huh. I would think semi fasted is better. Not too fasted to limit the work output but not immediately eating before because the fuel source switches.

^^you ever do belt squats DD?

I tried them when I was recovering from shoulder surgery and hated it. It was very hard to load up the belt with only one arm and they felt really awkward/not good on my hips with 4+plates hanging down.

I wasn’t a fan at all but some people like them. It was difficult to stack up/chain up all those plates with one arm in a sling lol

[quote]jp_dubya wrote:

[quote]JLederach wrote:

[quote]jp_dubya wrote:
Discuss anything you want to do with your therapist. No sense in re injuring yourself with something that you think is harmless. any load bearing, even with a smith machine may cause a contraction on that tendon in the form of bracing or resisting movement and may be contraindicated.
How long do you wait post workout to eat? I have recently read something that presents the case that a delay may actually be better. Give a chance for the free fatty acids to clear.
I see that you are actually cranking up the intensity of the work you are doing. That makes more sense then the duration. I wish I could find the study, but I remember reading that the amount of calories burned for a task decreased when the task became more familiar. Recommended was to change the intensity, change the task (treadmill, stairstepper, elliptical).
The afterburn effect, EPOC, continually cited as the complete equation was shown in one study to not be much.
LaForgia J et. al. Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. J Sports Sci. 2006 Dec;24(12):1247-64.
All in all, exercise as the instrument of caloric deficit may actually be effective when one is a very well trained in the task, ala the much ballyhooed Tabata protocol.
The frequent feeding idea has been blown apart with another study for a few reasons. The study
Bellisle F et. al. Meal frequency and energy balance. Br J Nutr. (1997) 77 (Suppl 1):S57-70.
The reason is, yes eating more frequently will increase the thermal effect of food, but it don’t do diddly when the calories in a day remain the same. 5 meals in a day will cause an increase 5 times. OK fine. 2 meals will only increase the TEF twice. It amounts to a net nothing when it is 5 feedings of 500 Kcal as opposed to 2 of 1250. Sure, if you eat 5 meals of 500 the thermal effect of food will be higher than 2 meals of 500. And what if a very lean person has a low maintenance need? Are they really going to benefit with 6 meals of 10 calories? (exaggeration to clarify)
My take on it is that your higher intensity work can be complimented nicely when you follow it with longer duration lower intensity work. Wait to eat and reap higher benefits.
Intermittent fasting has some interesting research too. Give it a little scan if you’d like
Best of luck to you on your recovery.
[/quote]

yeah man i dont think im gonna do any loading ill just be doing bodyweight stuff at the moment. lunges, box jumps, etc. perhaps just some bodyweight squats for now. one of the reasons i havent tried much for my legs is because i dont want a freak accident to happen and reinjure myself. and id say i eat about 30 minutes after morning cardio. ill bump that to an hour or so maybe? and all of that is really good info i appreciate it. intermittent fasting seems interesting as well. that would be an 8 hour feeding window following by a 16 hour fast correct? the only thing ive wondered about it is what the limits are for eating during that window. ill give it some research. thanks for all of the info man.
[/quote]
You nailed the nuts and bolts of IF. It has a high compliance from what I have seen because of its simplicity. As far as the limits, use the mirror and the scale. You’ll get it dialed in. How long to wait? hmmm. If you are really knocking it out with intensity in the bursts, and doing an extended lower intensity, your body is primed to replace muscle glycogen as a priority at that point and the only source is energy stores. I would think an hour would be pretty good. Good lean protein food source might help more than concern over carbs. One guy says two hours will maximize the GH response, but that may be too long for my liking. It then points to preworkout nutrition too, huh. I would think semi fasted is better. Not too fasted to limit the work output but not immediately eating before because the fuel source switches. [/quote]

great info man. ill start applying these principles this week. might try intermittent fasting for a week or so and see how i like it.