T Nation

Contest Prep Cardio

I wanted to get a discussion going concerning people’s actual experience with cardio that worked best for them during a contest prep (not just quoting “studies”).

Frequency? LISS or HIIT? Fasted? etc. Also, were you low carb? High carb? Cycling? Natty?

I’m still toying with the idea of doing my first physique show end of April and haven’t nailed down the cardio aspect just yet. I’m trying to figure out what’s optimal for me right now. I’m not particularly low or high carbing it these days, just sitting at a steady 250/150/75 daily macro split.

-Amount? Always the least possible to keep progressing at the desired rate.
-Frequency? See above answer.
-Type? HIT for greater results proportionate to time spent performing.
(Smart competitors know when to use SS & when to use Intervals.)
-Fasted? Never unless you wanna lose muscle and lower your BMR
-Carbs? Very complex and individual specific question.
-Natty? Yup.

S

I know you said no articles, buuuttt

articles.elitefts.com/training-articles/how-do-bodybuilders-really-eat-and-train/

I think that’s a fascinating read.

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:

-Fasted? Never unless you wanna lose muscle and lower your BMR

[/quote]

Stu - I’m sure this has been beaten to death on these boards but I thought this was common with competitors? I don’t have inside info, but always thought that fasted AM cardio was kind of a normal thing. Are you saying ‘never’ for contest prep or “never-ever-ever” like even if someone isn’t “dieting” per se but just trying to minimize fat gain (cough).

If “never-ever”, then in your opinion, what’s an effective first-thing AM cardio routine, at least in terms of eating so not fasted?

[quote]SteelyD wrote:

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:

-Fasted? Never unless you wanna lose muscle and lower your BMR

[/quote]

Stu - I’m sure this has been beaten to death on these boards but I thought this was common with competitors? I don’t have inside info, but always thought that fasted AM cardio was kind of a normal thing. Are you saying ‘never’ for contest prep or “never-ever-ever” like even if someone isn’t “dieting” per se but just trying to minimize fat gain (cough).

If “never-ever”, then in your opinion, what’s an effective first-thing AM cardio routine, at least in terms of eating so not fasted?[/quote]

Sorry if I confused anyone, didn’t wanna get into writing a whole how-to-contest-prep on here -lol (I figured my past threads leave enough breadcrumbs!)

Anything completely fasted can be an issue, especially when you’re talking about higher intensity work. As such, you won’t find any decent coach suggesting doing fasted interval work.

When we’re talking about short bouts of steady state, you’re really not going to do anything horrible, in fact having a nice 20 min stroll before breakfast might just improve your insulin sensitivity throughout the rest of the day if you’re lucky. But knocking out a 60 min session on a truly empty stomach? I wouldn’t suggest it. And “fasted” doesn’t always really mean “nothing”. You have a lot of coaches who refer to fasted, or morning cardio, but definitely want you to throw down some BCAAs, or get a hit of caffeine.

Hope that helps! :slight_smile:

S

I agree with Stu, prep is all about muscle preservation so truly fasted activities are less than optimal.

As far as cardio type, I have used both HIT/Intervals & Steady-State while prepping for different shows and while both work, I found steady-state to be more effective for myself. I think it is an individual thing depending on body type, starting cardio fitness levels as well as starting bodyfat levels and even convenience.

-60% vo2 max for an hour or two depending on how fat i am, usually split up into 2-3 rounds
-prefer to do it away from carbs (personal preference)
-assisted (lol no help to you, sorry)

[quote]Myosin wrote:
I agree with Stu, prep is all about muscle preservation so truly fasted activities are less an optimal.

As far as cardio type, I have used both HIT/Intervals & Steady-State while prepping for different shows and while both work, I found steady-state to be more effective for myself. I think it is an individual thing depending on body type, starting cardio fitness levels as well as starting bodyfat levels and even convenience.[/quote]

Were you doing cardio right after lifting or elsewhere?

[quote]jskrabac wrote:

[quote]Myosin wrote:
I agree with Stu, prep is all about muscle preservation so truly fasted activities are less an optimal.

As far as cardio type, I have used both HIT/Intervals & Steady-State while prepping for different shows and while both work, I found steady-state to be more effective for myself. I think it is an individual thing depending on body type, starting cardio fitness levels as well as starting bodyfat levels and even convenience.[/quote]

Were you doing cardio right after lifting or elsewhere? [/quote]

Right after hitting the weights.

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
-Amount? Always the least possible to keep progressing at the desired rate.
-Frequency? See above answer.
[/quote]

I agree here, I did do “fasted” cardio towards the end of my prep. However, it was low intensity (walking) and I did consume BCAA and caffeine. I really felt like this helped get rid of that last bit of fat. Prior to that the only “cardio” I did was dragging my tire (rows, presses, leg work).