T Nation

Most Important?


I was discussing nutrition, lifting, and cardio with a buddy of mine tonight...he mostly does cardio but has started lifting and he believes cardio is most important.

However, I feel we're after different body types. He's skinny 6'2" 170 and always talks about getting a six pack. I started out chubby, corrected my eating and now eat great and lift religously.

I have been progressing better than I thought I could. My goal is to gain lots of lean muscle mass and look aestectically pleasing and cut. My question is: What's most important (if you had to rank them in order 1-3) eating, lifting, and cardio?
From my experience and knowledge from this site I say
1.eating habits

what's your opinion?


I think that it depends on your starting position, but assuming that the person is not obese, I would agree with you. Eating, lifting and cardio in that order.

Please also note that I think that my answer is an extreme generalisation, but suitable to the general questions asked.


Being as I think I am coming from much the same place as you (athlete turned softbody) I have to agree with your rankings. As you illuded to I think that it has a lot to do with what you are after, not so much physique wise, but what physical activities and functions you plan to perform.

Just as a random question/observation: does your buddy reads a lot of Mens Health?


hey does read mens health, but in no way shape or form does he follow what they outline...because i read mens health too just for reading purposes and to get ideas, and he does not follow any such plans in there.


IMO you are absolutely right. You can build an incredible physique with just the first two on your list, the same can't be said about #3.

I can simply eat clean and cut out carbs at night and lose fat, however I can do all the cardio in the world but if I'm not eating right my body composition doesn't change.

Also I think weights are better for looking good and getting a '6-pack'. Cardio is somewhat catabolic, doesn't increase your fat burning or metabolism much more than good old weight training, and it doesn't put on LBM that increases your BMR. Also what is a 6-pack other than muscle??

For a really good physique you need a balance but cardio is definately the icing on the cake...pretty much useless without the cake itself!


What's most imporstant? For me that's easy!
1. Eating habits
2. Eating habits
3. Eating habits

Seriously, but my percentage importance would be something like this:
1. Eating habits (70%)
2. lifting (25%)
3. Cardio (5%)

In the last seven months I've lost 45 lbs. All my lifts have all improved and I've finally got the elusive 6-pack. I was working out almost as hard the preceding six months and only lost a few lbs. What changed over the last 6-7 months was my diet. Once I got that in order the cards all fell in place.

Eating properly helps give you energy to perform better workouts. It also gives you visable, tangible results that make you want to keep it up, kind of a perpetual motion thing. Lifting is key for giving you tone and muscles.

I seldom do "cardio" workouts the last month or two and don't miss them at all. I find the 8-10 hours a week of tennis give me all the cardio I need.


100% training and nothing else....

eating habits... ?!?! no way... never understand these discussion concerning the eating habits ever.... but this is so easy, your balance of calories which you eat and your body use/needs has to be negative to be leaner, otherway, positive balance and will be more fat - whatever you eat....

see lots of people in the gym, doing butterflies, kickbacks, lateral raises and these bullsh exercises.... drinking lots of proteinshakes after their workout and wondering why nothing happens only become more fat and fat during the years because of the excessive calories they consume with these drinks and their extensive training which don't kick the metabolism to make the body needed more calories......

Do workouts with compound exercises like deadlifts, squats, benchpresses, weighted Dips & Chins, Bent Over Rows and train hard and intensive contineous over the months & years and you will see the best results !


So you are saying if my maintenance calorie level is 2000 cal, If I want to "maintain" it doesn't matter if I eat 2000 cals from sugar or 2000 cals from lean protein? Just as long as my training is good? You've got to be kidding me....

Byt the way I TOTALLY agree:
1. Nutrition
2. strength Training
3. Cardio



not on Saturday nights at the sasquatch house. Anyway....

Arne--you are ridiculous in your assesment that 100% training covers all your bases. I read it hear and I stand by it's simplicity and truth---
You can't outtrain a bad diet.


But, like anything else--depending on current goals a little flip-flopping wouldn't kill ya.


of course the nutrion should be balanced with enough kinds of carbs for your energy, proteins for grow and also little bit fat.... But also when you make a diet with a reduction of 300-400 cal and eat balanced you will get enough to train hard....

If your muscles grow or not only depends on the correct training.

If you will be leaner or fatter depends on your energy balance of calories.

These are absolutely two different things, one has nothing to do with the other... Remember states like 'turn fat into muscles' and sh.. like this....

Nutrion / Energybalance = leaner or fatter
Strenghttraining = Increase Metabolism and Muclegrowing
Cardio = burn some calories more, but not much (jogging 40min what is is : 300-400 cal ?)
Cardio is defintely necessary but the main focus should be in train the Cardiovascular System

Now you can look what are your targets, when you want to be leaner (and also want to have some muscles) I would prefer a intensive fullbody workout 3times a week with the mentioned compound exercises to kick the metabolism (which increase after intensive weighttraining many hours, 24-48h)


That is the order no matter what your goal.


Good thread, and I agree for the most part. I have to say that it somewhat depends on your goals. I believe it is possible to get stronger with poor diet, but it is hard to change body composition.
If I may, while we got our thinking caps on, what do you feel is more important?
1) consistancy
2) effort
3) knowledge


You nailed it EXCEPT for the proviso that if you don't lift at all, you will look like shit. Nothing, to me, looks worse than an untrained male body.

For some people with amazing genetics, lifting will surpass diet. Why? Because they can stay lean on a shitty diet. But if they didn't train, they wouldn't have any muscle.

Cardio will always come third, unless you are an endurance athlete. Even if you are a fatass, most of your results will come from diet.