T Nation

Cardio Upon Waking?


There's another thread on cardio while BB'ng but I think this should of been put in another thread...

When trying to shed some body fat, when is usually the best time to do it? I'm usually too knackered at the end of my sessions to do another 30ish minutes on a treadmill.

I see the pro BB's do it as soon as they wake up though when they are dieting down for a contest, so I would assume that would be one of the best times to do it?

I've been slacking terribly with cardio and so i'm still hovering at around 15-18ish% bodyfat and I think I could be leaner and still gain strength. Was thinking of giving morning cardio a shot.


Low intensity steady-state cardio is a good companion for hard and heavy training. Fuck HIIT if you are lifting anything worth lifting, in my experience it only slows down gains.

As for when to do it, I doubt it matters much at all.

I suppose you've read Dante's work? Not that I think having a "guru" is good idea or anything but it's refreshing to read about how simple it all is, especially after absorbing some of the bullshit on these forums.

See you at the gym!


That's kinda funny, saying that it doesn't matter much when you do the steady state cardio, then mentioning Dante. Isn't he big on fasted cardio with his clients? :slightly_smiling:

It would be much nicer to do it later in the day, but I get up and do it before breakfast on off days atleast. More often if the weather is nice, lol.


I know he avdocates morning cardio, I don't know if it's completely fasted or not. It would make sense to avoid spiking insulin beforehand if fat loss is the goal, but this doesn't necessarily mean it has to be fasted. I've met Goodfellow in person so I was kinda tailoring my response to him in that it doesn't matter too much when he does it in the grand scheme of things.

The reason I mention Dante is more to do with some bantering between Goodfellow and myself at our local gym, rather than the issue of cardio. I didn't make that clear though so apologies for that.


I like doing HIIT in the morning, since it doesn't take too much time and my body feels like a stove all day long. But that's just me and I don't have to really train my legs with regular lifting exercises.

Lifting in the late afternoon / early evening hours and then some low-intensity steady state cardio before going to bed. Steady state cardio in the morning hasn't done jack for me. Word of caution, though: HIIT and hard leg training clash. Some people even treat HIIT as a leg training session of its own.

If shedding fat while at least maintaining your muscle is your primary goal, just

  1. hit the weights HARD, FREQUENTLY and PROGRESSIVELY (the more often the better) all the while staying HEALTHY. Just make sure to pay attention to all four aspects and you can't go wrong.

  2. decrease your caloric intake accordingly

  3. and then, not any sooner, you might add some cardio.

In that order. Resistance training beats cardio in terms of energy demands and its effects on body composition.


Cardio first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach, is optimal for weightloss if that is what you want. There have been field studies performed with athletes, and they do prove this in comparison to afternoon/later sessions where food was already in the system. It as to do with glycogen.

Glycogen, derivative of glucose, or sugar from carbohydrates, is stored for later use energy when it receives beyond it's requirements. In the morning, while sleeping your glycogen drops because it's repairing your body using this stored energy, then in the morning your glycogen tank is empty meaning you are at an opportune time to light a fire underneath your fat burning furnace.

However, if you, like all peoples mostly, break-the-glycogen depleting-fast by consuming a banana or something, the furnace is cooled, and you need to burn what is consumed first then break into the real fire.

It's all about timing, and angles.


Fasted, only thing you take before you embark on your low-intensity adventure is green tea extract + whatever fat-burners you want to use...

It's fasted in order to work better in combination with the cutoff of the previous night... Or something like that.


I used to do HIIT fasted early in the morning, and I saw much of my strength and size vanish. It got to a point where I could rep out 315 on bench for 6 reps, to hurting with 225 for 8 reps. Since that, I have learned that if I am going to do fasted cardio, to stick with steady state submaximal effort.


Just out of curiosity, when you tried fasted HIIT were you at high or low bf?


Biggest plus of morning cardio.

If im still waking up I am not thinking about how much I hate cardio.


I didnt measure but if I had to guess I was around 12%, not fat but not very lean by any means. I think I just burned myself out on it, doing it 4 times a week. I am much wiser now.


Fasted morning cardio is very convenient. I don't have to worry about having food in my stomach to give me grief while running and it leaves a lot of time between when I workout in the evening. It really gets the appetite going though.


You gotta grow a pair and get on the treadmill after you workouts. Or do the elliptical if you want.

Point is... if your wanting to lose some poundage, then you absolutely must not miss your cardio.


IDK, i always thought that a true 12% was pretty lean.


True BF% meaning DEXA BF% (incl. brain mass and visceral fat)?


According to the guys at AST sports science,cardio first thing in the morning on a empty stomach is the worst thing u can do if u want muscle gain or even fat loss. Ill dig up the article later as i cant access that site at work anymore.

So yeah check out the articles by paul cribb.

On a personal note i couldnt do cardio in the morning as im no morning person and want to kill everybody or at least do some harm to them even if they speak to me at such early hours.All i do in the early hours is sit and eat. Cardio is done after weight training for me.


How long would you be doing numbers 1 and 2 until you implement 3? Im trying to recomp at the moment and ive been sitting at basically the same body weigh 195lbs at 5' 9" for past 4 weeks and my body has essentially stayed the same well at least it looks that way. I mean all my lifts are increasing quiet steadily and im trying to cut out as much carbs as I can after 6-7 O' clock.

I do have a tape measure but I can't really seem to use it accurately it seems so many factors are in play when using it pressure, position, time of day it just changes everyday so i Haven't been using it to check my fat loss progression.


I'm totally a fan of interval work, but when I do it, it's always on a day that I haven't hit the weights, as it's just too taxing (I'll do 2 days weights, 1 day "off"/intervals then repeat). Of course as a show gets closer (say 3 weeks out), I'll do about 20 min easy steady state 1st thing in the morning just to knock off a few extra cals for the day. I wouldn't ever recommend doing 60-90 min of steady state the way some guys do.

From my personal experience (my PERSONAL experience, not preaching here -lol) it's too muscle wasting, and your primary goal in cutting should always (ALWAYS!) be muscle preservation if you wanna keep your metabolism humming.