T Nation

Cardio and Leg Training


a quick history,,i have a high body fat ratio and i find if i do sqauts and dead lifts my legs hurt to much to do the cardio at the pace i need to drop the fat,

i was told by the guy at the local g.n.c store that you have to pick one or the other as far as weightloss(fat percentage)or bulking..i would love to pack on size but it seems pointless if your body fat is 20%..should i just do a small amount of weight training and lots of cardio..and just train legs by doing the stair master and treadmill...


i'd say concentrate on losing fat first. but certainly don't cut your weight training efforts in view of cardio. if you're weight training is frequent and intense enough along with a squeaky clean diet, your fat levels should drop despite only minimal cardio. stick to low energy systems cardio for now. you can do this without killing yourself with intervals. use a high incline..

maybe 12 at around 3.5 mph for 30 mins or so several times a week. there's no way i'd do my intervals on leg day. it would simply be too taxing on my body and i'd be compromising my recovery. as you become leaner and in better shape, you can slowly start to adjust things and introduce (slowly) intervals into your routine.


Trying to get bigger and smaller at the same time is pointless unless you're already at an elite level. Your goal should be to try to hang on to as much muscle as possible while you're dieting down.

If you're going to do cardio and weights on the same day, do your cardio first and if you have anything left, then do some weights. Personally, I do cardio in the mornings and weights at night when I'm dieting down.

FWIW, forget the "low intensity cardio burns fat better than high intensity cardio" stuff. Your goal isn't to burn fat while you're working out, your goal is to keep your metabolism from crashing so your burn fat all day long and high intensity interval cardio does that best.


barbell complexes


I'd amplify 1morerep's advice. There have been studies that show cardio without strength training can lower your metabolism. You want to drop the fat, but you want to avoid losing lean body mass to do so. Strength training, getting enough rest, and good nutrition (esp. a post-workout dose of simple carbs and protein) will help avoid this.

I also think that doing a "small amount" (in your words) of weight training may not be exactly the right approach. If you are doing 10 different exercises each session for multiple sets of lots of reps, then yes, you are probably overdoing things. Concentrate on quality and getting strong using the big muscle groups in complex exercises that pull several muscle groups into action (squats, deadlifts, bench, rows, military, chins, dips). One program to try is based on Mark Rippetoe's beginning strength program. There are some variations out there, but basically you concentrate on good form, low rep sets (3 sets of 5 or 5 of 5), and a few of the above exercises each work out. You start off fairly light to train your form, adding weight each session. You do not work to failure. Squats are in each session. The others alternate every other session. My experience is that you see some good progress in the first month, but really start cranking in the second and third. I also was able to get a good workout that saw marked strength gains, some muscle growth, and allowed me to still hit the cardio.

You don't say how flexible your schedule is, but if you can try breaking up your cardio and strength workouts. You can do this either by splitting them into AM cardio and PM weight training, or separate cardio and strength days. I do the latter, with a light 10 min. cardio warm up, lifting (do warm up sets as well), then follow it with light 12-15 minute cardio and a 5 min. cardio cool down. This burns several hundred calories from cardio on my strength days, and still doesn't kill me. I then have 3 more intense cardio days with no weights (I do intervals one session, high intensity but short steady state in another, and long, low intensity in the last). I start the week with my highest intensity cardio day, so it isn't hampering recovery from a strength session. Ocassionally, my body says slow down and I drop a post strength training cardio altogether and do extra stretching and muscle release work on rollers). This has worked well in the past when I let myself go and needed to start from a fairly low state of conditioning. You do need to make sure that you get extra sleep, take your fish oil, and be good about pre & post workout meals and getting some good protein before bed to make sure you recover.

If your schedule isn't so flexible to do this much or your body tells you it's too much, don't get too hung up as this is for the long haul, and if you keep it up, your conditioning will allow you to do more. Good luck!


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thx guys for all the advise,,i think im going to work on my diet and make it as clean as possible and get back to training legs and work in the cardio when i can..as for the listening to the guy at the g.n.c store i live in a small town and workout at a gym that dosent have many members, none that i would consider body builders so advise is limited..

thats why i jointed this site when i found it...i`m looking forward to reading all the forums for more help on the subject..thanks again


Funny how with two simple words VOLUMES was said.


I keep my cardio days on upper body days, typically M,W,F.

Where T,Th are for legs. Where there is no way in hell to walk with enough intensity after doing my legs days !!.

Hard enough the day after, but feels good to stretch them back out after 24 hours :slight_smile:

And at 48 I need Saturday and Sunday to regerate LOL.

Legs days: 6/12/25 squats (hack squats actually on my crossbar system at home), standing Calf raises (T). Extensions, curls, press and seated calf raises (Th)


Doing any kind of running after squats and deadlifts is going to be pretty difficult. Seated bike, while not quite as optimal, is much easier to achieve on those days.


I actually like to do some treadmill work after legs. I find that it reduces DOMS for me.


I think I have a good routine that solves your problem, but it does not involve any push-press type exercises due to a shoulder injury I recently had.

Other than that, it solves your problem.

Monday: Biceps, Triceps, abs; Treadmill work including sprints.
Tuesday: squats, pull-ups, deadlifts; Ride SPIN bike for 30 minutes, including sprints.

Wed: Off. This gives your legs time to rest after Tuesday leg day.

Thursday: Repeat Monday.
Friday: Repeat Tuesday.

This workout basically works your abs twice a week, your legs twice, and your arms twice. Plus, you get four cardio workouts.

You get a healthy dose of sprints, squats, deadlifts, pullups, and abs, plus some arm work for good measure.

Plus, at our age, keeping it simple is what it's all about.

Good luck.