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Lifting vs. Cardio


I'm working to get in better shape, but I'm not sure what the best method would be. Ideally I would like a lean body with some strength. Currently I'm on a workout schedule of lifting 3 days a week and Cardio 3 days a week. I rest or just stick to light cardio on the 7th day. I'm eating plenty, but I don't know if it'd be best to split the getting lean and the getting stronger or to keep them the same as I am now. Advice?


Yes. Read. There are several great articles on this site. Anyone who gives you specific advice here with as little information as you have provided is not worth listening to.


Stats and goals?


Lifting vs. Cardio.

Goal: to get lean and have strength

Uhm... How about both?


Lol ill agree with this one.

Why not try 3 days of lifting a week and 3 days of moderate cardio.


Like jsk said, you're vague as all hell, so it's hard to suggest anything concrete.

Goal-setting 101: A goal needs to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-constrained. Figure out more exactly where you want to go, so you know how to get there.

Again, this really tells us nothing. What's your lifting plan like? What kind of cardio and how much?

This article might give you some ideas about how to prioritize/arrange a fat loss plan, if that ends up being what you're after:

What, exactly, did you eat yesterday?

Generally, you want to choose one goal and attack it full throttle, rather than trying to lose fat while also building strength, since the most effective path for one isn't always optimal for the other.

His profile says he's 6'1" and 225, but I'm realizing more and more that people have been getting creative and/or forgetful with the info they put there.

His current strength levels on the basic lifts (squat, deadlift, bench, overhead press, row, pulldown/pull-up) could give some good indications of what's what, though.


Sorry, I wasn't paying attention to how vague it was. I don't know my max stats for anything, so I'm afraid I can't give you that. I've been reading this website for a while, and trying my best to pay attention and learn. As for goals, the only distinct measurable goals are to be at 10% body fat or less and 200 lbs ideally, but I still have to look up how to find my body fat percentage or purchase something to get that. Other goals are to get rid of man boobs and muffin top. I am in fact 6'1", but I haven't weighed myself in months, so I'm guessing on the 225, I can weigh next time I'm at the gym. I started working out again last week, and right now this is the workout
Lifting days (monday, wednesday, friday):
Jog to gym (half a mile I think), stretch, run half a mile, Then

Bench: 185lbs 8 reps

One arm rows: 50lbs 10 reps

Oblique plate twists: 30, with a 25lbs plate

Hanging leg lifts: 10

Plank and side plank:30 seconds plank, 20 seconds each side plank

Squats: Usually about 205lbs, 10 reps (I usually have to work in with someone already on the machine since I'm on a circuit) Since I don't have a spotter when I do have the machine to myself, I still don't go up past about 225 on squats.

Deadlifts: 8 reps of 135lbs. I can do more, however, I'm not sure of my form, so I'm staying lower until I feel comfortable with my form.

Chin-ups or pull-ups: 4-5 and I do one or the other, I usually just choose which to do when I'm there, although I seem to be alternating.

Lateral arm raises?: I think thats the name. 15lb dumbells in each hand, raise hands to shoulder level on the side, and then to the front, ten reps each.

Then I perform the circuit again, going to 205 bench, 60 rows, 225 on squats, 180 deadlifts, and 17.5 on arm raises. I'm sticking to two circuits this week and next week I'm planning to move to three circuits, possibly increasing weight again on the third circuit.


Running days (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday)
I jog to the gym, stretch, The track is 1/6th a mile, and I run the straights, walk the curves for 20 min, or, 10 min, but then I run stairs for maybe five minutes, then a rowing machine for another 5.

Sunday I ran a mile. I don't know if I'll stick to this, not do ANY official work, do agility work or just try to play some pickup games of basketball or wrestling or something.


I haven't done traditional cardio in prolly a year or more. I don't think the tread is the way to go unless you are prepping for a show and need to be peeled. It's diet and intensity imo.


My diet isn't set, because I just started classes last week and have also switched meal plans with the school, so I'm now having to buy groceries. I eat one meal a day at the dining hall, and I try to make sure that I eat healthy there, (salad, fruits, milk, some form of protein and vegetables, yoghurt too depending on the day) I can't give you a more definite answer there because what's available changes daily and depending on what time I go, which also varies depending on the day.

I munch on peanuts during the day when I'm hungry, I drink 5-6 24 ounce bottles of water a day, and my other meals are either eggs and toast with milk, oatmeal with butter and brown sugar, a bowl of multi-grain cereal with fruit (like raisin bran or cheerios) or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Once or twice a week I may have ramen noodles. I make sure that I eat a pb & j or eggs as close to having lifted as possible (within 20 min). The timing of my meals and how much is not set at all, I just eat when I feel hungry, and try to make sure I drink water beforehand. I probably eat about 6-7 times a day.

I don't have spare money, so I'm trying to keep my meals cheap and easy, as well as somewhat lasting since I have to get rides to the grocery store.


In high school (two years ago), I wrestled and was pretty good. My max bench at that point was 215, squat 375, I could do ten pull ups at a time, and I don't know any other maxes. I was at 19% body fat and 208 lbs. When I say lean, I mean under 15% body fat at least, preferably under ten, and the weight doesn't matter to me as much. I wear a size 36-38 and would like to wear a 32-34, which is what I was also wearing in high school. Its essentially become my measuring stick for my fitness.



Awesome work on dishing out more info, man. So much so that I can now overlook your uncanny resemblance to Josh Koscheck and focus on giving advice. :wink:

First thing,

In two years (which isn't a whole lot of time), you've lost strength and gained bodyweight and inches around the waist. That's the opposite of progress, so we'll have to buckle down to get to your goals (which are definitely doable).

I'm not actually a fan of shooting for a certain bodyfat percentage, because the reading can vary based on who's doing the measuring, the "quality"/accuracy of the measurement, the method of measure, just too many variables. And in the end, will 9% bodyfat look drastically different than 11%? Not really, so it's pretty much a non-issue.

Get a picture in your head (or find a picture of someone reasonable) with a physique comparable to your goal, and work towards that. Along the way, plan on taking progress pictures and/or measurements every week or two to better chart your results.

As far as your current training, the combination of circuit training and running isn't really telling your body to build or retain lean muscle, so we want to switch to a more dedicated strength training plan to actually build the muscle we'll want to show off once you're done getting lean.

Your current routine is full of holes. Running a mile before you even touch a weight is counterproductive to building strength and size. Do you have to jog to that half-mile to get to the gym, or is there another way for you to get there?

And that type of circuit training is closer to "cardio with weights" than it is to a muscle-building routine.

Check out something like this plan from Dr. Clay Hyght:
It's four days of lifting, upper body twice a week and lower body twice a week. That'll get you on a much better path to building strength and muscle than your current lifting routine.

You could add one or two days of easy-ish cardio along the lines of your current running plan, either right after lifting or on some of the off days, but I'd keep at least one day of no cardio or lifting, just for recovery.

Something like that would help to build a better muscular foundation before you really start a dedicated fat loss plan, to make sure you'll have some serious muscle to show off once you do cut down.

Quick note about your deadlift: If you can get a video of you doing a few sets, you might want to toss it up here or in a new thread for some feedback. It's a crucial move that's totally worth learning to do.

For your nutrition, it sounds like you've got the right idea, but we can still tweak things a bit. I hear you on not having much of a grocery budget, but these two articles might help with some tips:

Munching on peanuts during the day would be a great idea if you were trying to put on more size, but since we're basically trying to lose bodyfat, try switching to something that at least has decent protein in it like beef jerky or hard boiled eggs.

It also sounds like, other than dinner, you don't get much protein during the day. That's going to make it near-impossible to add any muscle. Again, try to get a good-sized serving of protein in each meal. Maybe you can snag some extra goodies from the dining hall to stash in your room for later. Whatever, but you've got to find a way to have enough protein each day. I think there've been some threads here where college students talked about finding good eats on campus, I'll take a look for them.

I think that covers most of the broad strokes and biggest issues. Any other questions, toss 'em up.


The reasoning I had doing this is to put the emphasis on weight loss, but retain what muscle I can. So I was trying to combine some form of lifting with cardio, and I split it half and half, trying to do upper body work that would build muscle to fill in man boob space and build my arms. I was lighter on the lower body thinking that it wouldn't build much muscle in any case if I'm running sprints every other day. I'm not inclined to try and build size anywhere other than my shoulders/arms for now (they've always felt disproportionately small to my chest) I'd rather be lean like an athlete over huge like a builder. (generalizing) The loss of muscle and strength has come mostly from laziness, and a little from not being involved in sports any longer. But I'm willing to work to fix that. By some quick measurements and a bodyfat calculator program, I should be sitting at about 26.39% BF. I say I want that down around 10-15% because it doesn't bother me so much staying the same weight if thats down there, 215-225 lbs just sounds like an arbitrarily good number to me at this point.

I do have an idea of what I'd like to look like, but since I'm not going to search for images of men, dnlcdstn's avi looks like a good starting goal.

It sounds like your suggestion is essentially to drop most of the cardio, and focus on lifting harder and heavier, building muscle. Presumably I'd build size as well, and this would A: make me look better once fat loss was achieved. B: Reduce the amount of fat loss necessary to reveal muscle. I'm mostly alright with that despite my reservations about building size, however, I have two questions:

1.) Will the lifting increase cardiovascular fitness? Or would you suggest just becoming more active to do that? Or making that a later goal in general?

2.)I don't know where you're going with diet issues. You said peanuts would be good if I was trying to build size, but then told me I should switch to something with decent protein. This seems contrary. Same with telling me to get more protein at each meal. That said, I am planning to purchase frozen chicken that I can grill up for meals, but I'm more concerned with not having enough fruits and veggies, as well as trying to keep my body burning well and not adjusting to the levels of food I'm eating, so that weight loss still happens.


Depends on how you lift. If you're taking 3-4 min rest between sets, then not much. 30-60s, absolutely. Lifting is a tool that you can use any number of ways...hypertrophy, power, strength, fat loss, and even cardiac output training for athletes. While cutting, lifting IS my cardio. Last august I was in the best shape of my life while I was doing no conventional cardio. Resistance training and cardio do not have to be mutually exclusive and that mindset could stunt your growth as a trainee.

That being said, if you are focusing on putting up some heavier weights for now (i.e. sets of 5 reps or less with more than 2 min rests between sets) then you should become more active on your recovery days. Shooting hoops, bike ride, walking, climbing, skateboarding, etc. Maybe throw in one day of sprints.


I'm starting on that plan, keeping a record, gonna take pics and log to keep track and see about some chicken for meals.


That's always a good idea, but lifting heavier is one of the best ways to retain and possibly build muscle when dieting down. Only doing relatively-lighter/higher rep work like the original circuit you described isn't optimal.

I hear ya, but training to build muscle across the entire body will be more effective overall for a ton of reasons. Equal strength development, increased metabolic rate, more balanced muscular development. Also, since you already described yourself as having a muffin top and man boobs, there's really no honest excuse not to train everything. It all needs work.

Yep, you got it.

Like jsk said, you can purposely push the pace between sets to get a better cardio effect. This works "better" with moderate to higher-rep lifting because your strength won't be impacted as much. For example, in the Size and Strength program I linked to above, try to really hustle between sets on the two lighter days each week, but take your time and recover as much as reasonably possible between sets on the two heavier days.

Plus, like I mentioned, you could throw in an "easy-ish" cardio session or two each week if it's a real concern, without negatively impacting the lifting.

What I meant about the peanuts being good for size is that they're calorie-dense, so a few handfuls throughout the day can add hundreds of calories to your daily intake. That's a positive thing if you're trying to get larger, but a negative if fat loss is any kind of goal, because when it comes down to it, fat loss won't happen if you're taking in too many calories.

As far as the protein, you want to be sure you're getting a decent portion of protein with each meal. It just sounded like most of the meals you described were carb-heavy and lacking in major protein. But it seems like you're correcting that with the chicken, so, it should be all set.

Solid. Keep us in the loop and shoot up any more questions along the way.


Any suggestions as to how much I should increase weight on my lifts each week?


Only you can figure that one out. It's a good time to learn. My first year of training, I'd shoot for 10-20 lb/week on squats and deads and 5-10 on pressing and rowing exercises. There is no golden standard. You might find your inner beast and learn you can jump 30-40 lbs some of the early weeks, or you may discover 10lbs/month is a great pace for you. There is no rush.


Omg lol, that's what I'm doing on my Westside template right now. Heavy on my ME days, and 20-30 sec rest on my DE work and EDT type work for my accessories. It's burning fat fast and I'm still getting stronger just as fast I was. I guess my GPP sucked and that's contributing to my strength progress since it's better now.

To the OP, do what Chris said. It'll work. Since I'm 190lbs and have a greater training age(meaning progress takes longer), and it's working great for me, I'm sure it'll work for you. I'd just like to add one thing. Whenever I'm leaning out, it's essential for me to have some carbs about an 1hour before working out (any less and I want to vomit during the workout) and have a protein shake after I workout. Otherwise my workouts suck and progress stalls.

Just stay the course and be consistent. If you make a detailed log, it'll be easy to look back 6 months from now and look at what worked and what didn't. A workout and food log.


Well, I've officially been on it for a week today, I've done some sort of activity on the days I haven't lifted, but kept a log of what I'm lifting, although not a food log. I threw up pics and measurements in a log thread or whatever its called. I'll see about starting a food log. I just haven't because I've always hated having to watch what I eat. In terms of training age I think I've got a lower one, because I've always fluctuated weight really easily, and same with fitness I think. Either that or I've simply always been stagnant then dove in head first to work, (which is true).

For increasing, today I just increased by at least 1 weight unit for everything except lat pull downs since thats a 15lb jump (Ex: 15lb dumbell --> 17.5, 115lb-->120)I'll just play that one by ear.

I'm afraid I don't know what GPP or EDT or ME stand for.


GPP- general physical preparedness

EDT- escalating density training (gradually do more and more work in less time),
ex: week 1 front squat 12 reps
45 sec rest
romanian deadlift 12 reps
repeat circuit 4 times
week 2 front squat 12 rep
35 sec rest
romanian deadlift 12 reps

ME- Maximum Effort, basically a rep max between 1-5 reps

DE- dynamic effort, speed work