Morning Cardio

I’m planning to add a brief morning cardio session (before eating) to accelerate fat loss. I understand from reading the t-mag archives that this is a good time to do this. However, I’d like some guidelines regarding workout duration and intensity.

For example, on my non-lifting days, I’ve started the Running Man interval workout. Although this lasts only 15 minutes, it is (to me) very intense. I don’t think that I would be able to handle this first thing in the morning without eating - I’m not a morning person anyway. Even if I could handle the intensity, it would probably hurt my performance at work (which is unacceptable) and hurt my lifting workouts later in the day (which is undesirable).

Is there a typical duration or intensity (possibly a target heart rate, etc.) for morning cardio sessions? Also, is it typical to do these sessions every day (even on days that I’d do the Running Man later in the day) or just on lifting days?



I think this topic was discussed multiple times, so you’re better off using the search function and read the old posts.

The duration that I’ve seen most times is 20 minutes. Any more than that is supposed to be counter productive. I started doing three miles every morning, which takes about 25 minutes but 3 miles was a good even number to me. I have to say that the results are good. I noticed a difference in less than a week.

Cardio is overrated IMO until you hit about 7%. I am currently at 6% and just now starting to do the running man workouts and I’m also going to start hitting 15 min intense post workout cardio and also 30min at ~70%HRM in the mornings. I’m only doing this b/c I need to hit 4 % in the next couple of weeks, so I need to get rid of 6lbs in 2.5 weeks. If that were not the case I doubt I would do any cardio at all, except for sprinting and spin cycling. Anyways, that’s my take on it. Cardio is worthless unless you are really fat and need to lose weight b/c of health issues, or if you are polishing off a few last percent and don’t want to lower calories anymore, or if you are an endurance athlete. Just my .02…
If you are going to do AM cardio, at least hit some protein and fat before, so you don’t get nauseous. I would keep these sessions short and intense, and only to knock off a few extra calories…don’t try to use it in place of crappy dietary practices like most people.

I respectfully disagree with Perro about cardio being worthless. We can go through all the metabolic adaptations as a result of both aerobic and anaerobic intervals. But, that’s beyond the scope of this post, as I’ll attempt to address the original poster’s question.

I really don’t see a need, per se, to do cardio on an empty stomach. If you are looking to do low- (up to 60% HR reserve) or moderate-intensity (60-75% HR reserve), then performing these intensities on an empty stomach or after a training session would be best.

However, that does not mean that I advocate them. I would much rather see you focus on anaerobic intervals like the Running Man article illustrates. These should not be done on an empty stomach, though. Rather, you could eat a meal (i.e. protein and fat) about two hours before or you could have a scoop of low-carb Grow about 30-45 minutes before. Regardless, follow up the session with a liquid meal similar to that which you would after a weight workout.

Duration of the low-intensity sessions can be up to 45 mintues, while the moderate-intensity sessions probably need not be longer than 30 minutes. The HIIT varies in duration depending on your protocol and fitness level. Follow CT’s recs and you should be set.

“We can go through all the metabolic adaptations as a result of both aerobic and anaerobic intervals”

I can see where you are going with that, and sorry, I guess I should have worded what I said better. I agree with you, aerobic conditioning isn’t totally “worthless”, maybe I should have said “unnecessary”. I stand corrected and apologize. I do advocate anaerobic conditioning as part of a complete program, but I do not advocate a lot of long distance aerobic work, unless my client is unable to do higher intensity cardio. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

One of my problems with aerobic cardio is that most people choose to run, and, after selling high end fitness equipment for a few years I have seen so many injuries from long distance type cardio…

I guess I should thank treadmill and elliptical manufacturers, they bring me lots of knee, hip, and lower back rehab clients. LOL

Perro…No need at all to apologize. Obviously we are in agreement, as I seem to have some very parallel opinions to your own.

I do think that anaerobic conditioning/intervals (i.e. HIIT) should make up the bulk of one’s cardiovascular efforts. I guarantee that this type of training will not only result in greater and more efficient fat loss, but also, secondarily, greater increases in the metabolic machinery that I discussed, as well as aerobic capacity.

The benefits of such far outweigh any low-intensity, long-duration aerobic work…for individuals engaged in body composition.

Now, it does have its place, I do think, in some form or another. For example, after a weight training session, I feel that moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio is better implemented than high-intensity. I also feel that if one wants to exercise in the fasted state, then low-intensity is the most efficient route.

If I were to suggest one intensity, it would be high-intensity inteveral style as we both alluded.

Against popular opinion, I am a big proponent of fasted-state cardio. I always do my HIIT upon rising, though I do take 10g glutamine and 10g BCAA’s before and also another 10 and 10 during.

This works for me because I have a need to get my shit done with right away. If I had to eat some breakfast and then wait 2 hours, I doubt I would ba able to get up the energy to get at it. I’m just one of those “morning people” and my sprints don’t suffer, so I figure why not do it.

That’s kewl, Beamuh, so long as it gets the job done for you.

Have you tried having a little Grow pudding about 30 minutes beforehand? That should bode quite well, in addition to your BCAAs.

Perrogrande, one quick question. Do you mind Big Dog or do you prefer PerroGrande?

Wow, thanks to everyone for your feedback. Your collective wisdom has provided the push in the right direction that I needed - towards high intensity sessions.

It seems like the only difference in opinion concerns something that I took for granted - that I wanted to do this on an empty stomach. I’ll probably start my intial sessions before eating, but I’m willing to adjust the timing of breakfast depending on how things go.

Thanks again to everyone who answered my question.


I actually don’t have regular Grow (or LC Grow for that matter, I have my blend from protein factory) and I questioned this on the DP about possibly using Whey Isolate before or the Glutamine and BCAA’s and it seems the consensus of those who answered was that it was better to use the Glutamine and BCAA’s. What do you think?


The primary issue I’d see from the whey isolate as a stand-alone would be the possibility of it raising insulin. If this occurs, then you might find it a little tougher to get the workout in, particularly due to hypoglycemia.

I wouldn’t be concerned with this if LC Grow or a protein blend was used, though.

I also really prefer to not interfere with optimal lipolysis and fat oxidation, which will be thrown off by insulin. Now, we know that it’s not necessarily the fuel that’s burned during exercise that we should be looking at, so that could be a moot point.

So, to answer your question, I’d probably go with the blend and BCAAs (and Glutamine if desired) about 30 minutes beforehand. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy–or screws up your performance–then go ahead and do what you’ve been doing, buddy.

Brent, et all,

I’m curious as to how you consume your BCAA/glutamine combo. I assume both of these are in powdered form, and you mix it with some liquid. I once tried mixing glutamine with ‘natural’ flavoured whey isolate and water, and it was ungodly. I haven’t done it since, so I was wondering what the mix of choice was, and what BCAA product you use.


Do Yahoo searches for both ICE and Glutacene.

Both solid products.


During a lifting session, I’ll mix my BCAAs and Glutamine with a serving of PowerDrive. I use Optimum’s powdered BCAAs.

When not using PowerDrive–during/after HIIT–I mix the powdered BCAAs and Glutamine with a half-serving of Crystal Light. Tastes just fine that way.

“Against popular opinion, I am a big proponent of fasted-state cardio. I always do my HIIT upon rising…”

I’m glad to see I’m not the last guy on the block doing the fasted-state cardio thing, Brent!

I too don’t have much time in the a.m. since I’m at the club at 5:30, and as dedicated as I’d like to think I am, getting up early enough to eat a P/F meal an hour beforehand just ain’t happenin’!

So far, it seems to be working real well for me, but I like Timbo’s idea of a little “Grow pudding” beforehand and just might have to give that a try…

TimL - Right now I’m using EAS Glutamine and BCAA’s from the protein factory. I go with Timbo’s idea of the crystal light during training and I take them down like a shot of liquor before working out. The BCAA’s I have now taste like sand but if you have the water to just chug’em down, they ain’t half bad. I will be switching to Xtreme Formulations ICE when I finish off these BCAA’s though. Right now, I’m just trying to find the best deal on them out there.

Mamann - Always good to see another brother bucking the trend. I know how you feel. When the studies first came out that said fat burning wasn’t hurt with the meal before, people started advocating a P+F meal 2 hours before training and I was not diggin it. Now, what T-Aco said makes sense to my unscientific mind and it takes me a half hour to get to the gym anyway. I’ve now updated my food log and I’m gonna give my custom blend a go before the HIIT.

Either way is fine…LOL. Actually, I also agree with low intensity cardio post workout, to facilitate recovery. I can’t remember where I read it, either Bompa’s “Serious Strength Training” or “Optimum Sports Nutrition”, that 20 minutes of low intensity aerobics, post-workout, will help the shuttling of waste product from muscles and the shuttling of nutrients to the muscle. Also, aerobics for pre-competition bodybuilders, to help with capillary growth and vascularity, etc.

Timbo, you live in Austin? I might be coming down from Dallas in the next couple of months…we should hit up Kirby Lane or Magnolia’s.

Timbo-Cardio is essential…Why have strong muscles and a shit heart. Look at some very functional athletes, navy seals and Army Rangers. Huge amounts of cardio. I doubt few if any of us on this forum could compete with them.