Hello coach CT, I hope you and your wife are doing well.
So I am cutting right now and currently following an upper/lower split routine 4 days a week(Monday/Tuesday/Friday/Saturday) and I would like to add some HIIT training(i.e sprinting on treadmill or jumping rope) as cardio on 2 non-training days but I am concerned about the recovery as I train my lower body the day before HIIT day. My goal is to maintain as much muscle as possible while shredding as much fat as I can. Could you give me some advice on how to incorporate it into my training routine or do you have any better ideas? Thanks a million!
Hello coach CT, I hope you and your wife are doing well.
You have to prioritize your goals. If your primary goal is strength or hypertrophy then HIIT might interfere with that.
If your goal is to improve your anaerobic and aerobic endurance then do that early in your training week and when you’re recovered.
The reality is that you can’t get better at everything at the same time. If you choose your lifting routine as your main priority then don’t worry about doing your cardio with sore legs; just make sure your cardio isn’t so hard that it affects your lifting.
Thank you so much! You are right,I do need to figure out my priority first. I forgot to mention that I’m cutting now and I’m around 19% body fat. My goal is to maintain as much muscle as possible while dropping my body fat down to 12%.
There’s more than one way to do that since it comes down to calories in vs calories out. Lifting will obviously be your best friend for keeping muscle mass.
I would continue lifting and treat it as your number one priority. Cutting isn’t a time to build strength so I’d do a hypertrophy workout with multiple sets of 10 with 60 seconds of rest between sets.
Supersets with opposing muscle groups or a total body circuit would allow you do do more in less time. That will also challenge your cardiovascular system and drift towards interval style training. Cardio doesn’t have to be running. Think Crossfit style training but with common sense–a balanced workout that uses exercises that have a low risk of injury when done in a fatigued state.
Personally, my workouts don’t change whether I’m trying to add or lose weight. I do it with diet. I probably squeeze in a bit more cardio when I’m trimming fat but I try to get that in for my health anyway.
My favorite cardio is sprinting. Our gym has a track that only takes 6 laps to reach a mile instead of 10+ like most indoor gyms. The straightaway is about 90 meters and curves are 40ish. I sprint/run fast on the straight and walk the curve for rest. I usually do about 4 laps and call it a day. Some days I run at 80% and walk slower and others I run at 70% and walk normal. I usually do this before I lift. It takes away from my lifting a bit but I don’t mind. It’s a good workout and I’m plenty warmed up to lift.
What do you do on non- training days though? Do you still do some cardios?
Right now I play basketball 3 days a week. That’s interval training at its best. The only problem is that I play 3 days in a row and then nothing the rest of the week due to my work schedule.
When I’m not doing that I do the sprint workout I described twice a week. I usually run on the shortest lifting day. I’ve done it before and after my lifting. After feels worse but I’m still getting good work in. If you have the time to do it on a non-lifting then I’d do that. I just don’t have the time to get 6 days in per week. In a perfect world I’d run and do abs on a non-lifting day.
That is fascinating! I sometimes play basketball too on non-training days but all I do is just shooting some hoops and doing some layups which by no means is an HIIT as I am in Canada and I believe there are only a handful of people who actually enjoy this sport unlike in your country.
But I think I will do sprinting on cardio days from now on which leads to a question which I hope you can answer. Does that mean I am better off lowering the training volume or intensity on the day before I do sprint as I train my lower body on that day?
That’s up to you. Sprinting can be a good leg workout. Lowering your leg training volume depends on how much you’re doing and your goals.
If you’re doing 5x10 on squat, 5x10 on lunges, and 5x10 on romanian deadlifts then, yeah, you might lower your volume. But if your volume is lower (30-50 total reps) then you could probably leave it. It’s really a personal choice. You could decrease the volume for a few weeks and gradually add it back in if you feel it’s necessary. It’ll be trial and error for awhile.
I used a sprinting program for leg training one summer (no lifting). My legs maintained their muscle mass but I did lose strength. I didn’t notice the strength until I started playing basketball again and my vertical was low. I added plyometrics for 4-6 weeks with minimal results. I started lifting legs again and my vertical came back quickly.
Thanks a million brother! God bless you and your family!
Hey! I was quite interested in your question and the responses given by JM. I too enjoy training and cardio, but have come to realize that a HIIT day is also a work day; I would not consider it an off day or a non-lifting day since, in effect, you are hitting legs hard 4 times a week! My solution to this might not be feasible or appeal to everyone, but I decided not to think of a 7 day week. Rather, on those days where my legs are really lagging, I take the day off completely. Then, on the following day, I do my cardio workout and resume the lifting schedule from that point. For example, if I lifted Monday and Tuesday, and my legs were lagging on Wednesday, I’d take Wednesday off and do cardio on Thursday. That will push the rest of the schedule back a day and into next week. Then, rather then start on Monday, I’d start on Tuesday. If I felt great, the schedule would stay as is.
Good point! You are right about the HIIT that should not be considered as a traditional/formal cardio as it can be very taxing and intensive which could negatively affect the recovery from previous weightlifting training sessions.
I just really enjoy the feeling of running out of breath and sweating(I guess I am a weirdo.Lol) and I find that high-intensity exercises can help me fall asleep more easily.