T Nation

Peculiar Situation with HIIT, Cardio, and Weight Training


Hey guys,

I'm new to T Nation and this is my first post. Im writing cause I am wondering about my specific fitness situation and if you all had any advice for me.

I am 6'1 and about 200 pounds. My boddy makeup is somewhat flabby particularly in the chest and abdominal region (yes, I have man boobs). My goal is to slim down to around 180-190 pounds, but also tone and increase muscle. The thing that makes my situation peculiar is that I am a type 1 diabetic who takes a lot of insulin so my hormonal environment is different than the average joe's.

What I'm doing now is this:

-Eating a high protein diet, low carb diet (2-3 shakes per day + lean meats and chicken). I'm also eating plenty of veggies.
-Using BCAA's before, during, and after workout (approximately 12 g)
-Excercsing almost every day after work at 7pm. Traditionally this has just been 30-45 min of steady running mixed with pushups and crunches before and after my run.

My question is this: I have been doing this diet/excercise regimen pretty religiously for about 3 weeks and I have yet to see any results. For that reason, I am looking to incorporate a weight lifting and HIIT component into my weekly excercise plan. However, I haven't been able to find much info about how to balance the three when trying to lose weight and gain toned (no bulky) muscle. Should I do an HIIT circuit after I hit the weights? Is combining HIIT and a long run counterproductive?

One issue that type 1 diabetics face is lower levels of testosterone. I have read that long, steady-state cardio can reduce testosterone levels, where as HIIT and weights have the opposite effect. However I've also read that completely replacing steady-cardio with HIIT is a bad idea from a fat-loss perspective.

Any advice on a weeky work out plan would be much appreciated. Above all, I don't want to engage in a workout plan that is counterproductive to what I am trying to achieve, and that is what I felt I was doing by simply running for 45 min a day. I am taking supplements (Protein + BCAA), but I haven't gone down the creatine route yet. Maybe I will in the next week or so.It's worth noting that all of my workouts are taking place after work at around 7pm before dinner except on the weekends when I have more flexibility.

I'm new to this and I'm probably breaking plenty of forum rules/norms, but any feedback is appreciated



I guess I will be the first person on this weight lifting website to suggest that you start lifting weights. Nothing you are doing now will do much to increase your muscle mass.

Lots of great beginner programs out there, just use the search feature.


You need to stop worrying about 99% of the stuff in your post and just lift weights, do a little cardio, and be at a caloric deficit (and make sure you get enough protein like you said). Since up to this point you're more or less untrained that should take the fat off you and build you some muscle.


There is no difference between toned or bulky muscle. There's muscle and there is fat.


Remove a scale weight target from your goal.....you are trying to appear a certain way; the mirror will provide better feedback than the scale.

Do the math! What are your daily macros?

Depending on the pace; running is not a good choice when muscle presevation is a consideration. IMO...45 minutes is the 'upper limit' cardio/conditioning duration for a male with your stated goal.

3 weeks is 'no time at all'

Combined with a 'long' run.....yes. Scaled correctly; probably not.

IMO...other considerations are more important.


It seems unlikely you could ever get "bulky" with Type 1 Diabetes and lower testosterone. Your upper body flabbiness is caused by a combination of lack of muscle and too much fat. I certainly am not qualified to give diet advice to a diabetic, but I know for sure lifting heavy weights will help you build muscle, which will improve your physique.

Like the other posters have suggested, any beginner routine from this site should help you with your goals. Above all, don't fear heavy weights!


+1 not only will you gain some muscle mass and likely fill out your "man boobs," but you'll feel better, gain self-esteem and actually enjoy the gym.

Also, I completely replaced steady cardio with HIT ad I have lost 1-2 lb/week every week. At that rate, in two years I'll be a super model, but it is the first thing that seems to be really working that is sustainable for the long-term.


Thanks for the advice. I joined a gym recently and I've been trying to do as much weights as possible, but i've heard that it isnt good to do back to back weight training if you are a beginner. That is why I am looking to do something on the days in between, and I thought HIIT was the solution .


Pick a program, ( 531 works nicely with HIT) stick to it, and enjoy results.


I’m going to add in my two cents as a fellow T1 diabetic. There are a couple of things to think about.

  1. Gaining muscle. We have no problem, regardless of potential low T, in gaining muscle. Even if you do have somewhat low T levels, you will gain plenty of muscle just fine. You may not be able to compete in a natural bodybuilding competition, but you can certainly gain muscle and strength. T1 really does not impact this at all unless you plan on getting to the elite competitive levels. Any decent beginner program will work fine for you. Figure out for yourself if you prefer a full body workout or a split.

  2. Losing weight. This is much more challenging, but not impossible. We have, in essence, a bad metabolic disorder and take insulin supplements to survive. Losing weight is tricky, and harder for us than for non T1 diabetics. But it can be done, and you don’t have to kill yourself. I would recommend 2x per week of sprinting (either after a workout or on days where you aren’t working out). I also would recommend a low carb, high protein, medium fat diet to lower insulin requirements.

Eating some carbs before and after a workout is great, but don’t go overboard. Try to limit carb intake to only when you workout, and the rest of the day (and on off days) stick with protein, veggies (don’t worry about carbs here) and fat. While a normal person lifting hard can eat an obscene amount of carbs, as i’m sure you know, it is harder for us. Try to limit yourself to 100g of carbs on lifting days (again, around workout time - insulin needs for carbs after working out will be significantly lower) and below 60 or 50 grams on non workout days.

It is tough, but not impossible. Would I recommend this approach to a non-diabetic? Probably not. Carbs help athletic performance - no doubt about it. But as a beginner (and even intermediate) you can get away with lower carb diets and increase performance. For a T1 who wants to gain some muscle and lose fat, this has worked the best for me.


P.S. Sprinting 2x a week is key. Adding in some additional barbell complexes if you have time is also great. You need to work extra hard to crank up your metabolism. This is obviously in addition to the strength/hypertrophy training.

P.P.S. This approach is not geared for a maximal gain of muscle, nor is it geared for maximum weight loss. It is a sub-optimal for both, absolutely. But it will work. You will get bigger and stronger muscles (albeit more slowly than if you were focused purely on that) and you will lose weight.

P.P.P.S. If you have the stomach for it, count calories. If not, my only recommendation would be to eat slowly, eat until you are no longer hungry (but not full), and don’t snack (outside of pre and post workout protein/carb requirements).

EDIT: Clarification on sprinting. By 2x a week, that would be two sessions a week. A session would be 4 - 6 balls to the wall sprints, with as much time as you need in between to recover. Each sprint should last as long as you can go all out (seriously all out) - probably 10 - 20 seconds based on your fitness level. But also remember that prior to the 4 - 6 all out, crying for your mother sprints, you really do need to warm up before hand. Start by doing a 50% sprint, then a 60%, then a 70%, then two 85% sprints. Jogging will not warm you up properly for sprinting. I found that out the hard way.