T Nation

What's Your Fav Cardio?

I got asked an interesting question and asked for permission to answer it on the forum. Feel free to jump in with your thoughts!

[i]I’ve just been noticing you reply to a lot of the threads I reply to, and some of the things you’re saying challenge some of what I thought I “knew” (but hey, the moment we stop learning, is the moment we die, right? :wink:

What I was mostly wondering about was the fact that you recommend cardio and weight training on different days.

Now I’ve read so many different views on how cardio is effective, one of them, which many swear by is of course the fasted or semi-fasted morning cardio – I don’t subscribe to that, as I think my cortisol levels are really elevated, so I like to eat something as soon as I wake up, and get my workouts done in the afternoon when I am most awake.

Now another thing I learned, was that doing cardio before lifting, was counterproductive, because it would only burn up a lot of the muscles’ glycogen stores, so not actually burning much fat, and leave your lifts weak. This made a lot of sense to me, so now I do 15-20 minutes of interval work after every lifting session, and try and play badminton / tennis each once per week, on my some of my off days.

Now I get the idea of if you’re already tired from lifting, you won’t be able to put 100% into the HIIT, but how much difference really does it make?

I usually run between 2.5km and 3.5km in these 15-20 minutes, and I don’t view a weight lifting session as completed if the muscles it targeted the most aren’t shaking.

Well, I’ve actually been making some progress this way, and will try and stick with the current program for at least another 4 weeks, but your posts have awakened some questions for me?[/i]

The longer you play the body recomposition game, the more tools you’re likely to have in your tool chest. When it comes to cardio, one size does not fit all. I like different types of cardio, depending on a person’s goals, the time they have available and energy levels.

If a person has health issues or low energy levels or is just generally in a deconditioned state, you’ll see me recommending walking. It doesn’t matter for how long or at what time of day. I’m just happy to see them out, increasing energy expenditure.

When a person is wound tight, stressed or depressed, once again, I’ll recommend walking. Walking outside is a great mood elevator and de-stressor.

If a person is strapped for time and just doesn’t have the time (or inclination) to go walking for 45 minutes, I’ll recommend HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). It’s short and efficient and time effective. HIIT has a laundry list of benefits. It increases the number of mitochondria in the cells, which makes resistance training all the more effective and productive. It increases the amount of capillaries, which is also complementary to resistance training, in that wastes are removed more quickly/efficiently and nutrients taken to the muscles more quickly/efficiently.

HIIT is great for bulking or cutting. It’s not the calories burned while doing HIIT that does you the most good. It’s the fact that it elevates your metabolism in the hour following by 142% (as compared to steady-state cardio). HIIT also elevates your metabolism for up to 48 hours following.

Why do I recommend that people separate resistance training and HIIT? So you can put a higher degree of intensity and effort into your cardio and a higher dress of intensity and effort into your resistance training.

There are ways to combine the two, though. To start with, anyone doing resistance training would benefit by doing 5 minutes of some type of cardio prior to lifting weights. You’re raising your core temperature and getting your heart pumping and blood going to the muscles that you’re going to be working out. Five minutes of cardio won’t use up muscle glycogen, as you alluded to; it just warms you up and prepares your body for lifting weights.

Even though I wouldn’t recommend that you do cardio BEFORE resistance training, there are some people who will do 20-30 minutes of cardio (not HIIT!) following resistance training, with the goal of burning fat. That’s not why I like to see people doing cardio following resistance training because if you’re eating at a caloric deficit day in and day out, you’re burning fat all day long. The down side to doing cardio following resistance training is that cortisol levels are high. Post-resistance training is when you should be slamming down a PWO drink like Surge and following that with a whole-food PWO meal. Spiking insulin causes cortisol to drop. Why is cortisol high in the first place, because blood sugar levels are low, and cortisol breaks down muscle and makes glutamine available to the body. Glutamine, of course, can be converted into glucose.

So if you do cardio following resistance training, just make sure you recognize that there are pluses and minuses to doing so.

Re not thinking that a “weight lifting session is completed if the muscles it targeted the most aren’t shaking,” the goal of resistance training isn’t to make sure that you exit the gym on shaky limbs. The goal to resistance training is to provide your muscles with a stimulus for growth and then refilling muscle glycogen and allowing the body to repair the muscle fibers and GROW!!! Annhilation isn’t necessary, just a stimulus. Just like you can get some very nice results (i.e., growth) not going to failure, but rather stopping a rep or two short.

The bottom line is that no matter what your goals might be, doing more cardio isn’t going to make you skinny (women-speak) or ensure that the amount of fat you put on while bulking is minimal (guy-speak). Resistance training, cardio and diet all work together synergistically to improve body composition. The trick is to do all of what is necessary and not one iota more. Put your time and energy into more FOCUS and PRECISION and putting more INTENSITY into what you DO DO. It sounds counter-intuitive, I know, but sometimes less is more.

Anyone else want to jump in on this one?

I was too lazy to read everything that you posted, but I was able to read most of it.
I am currently doing fasted cardio (before breakfast) four days a week, and HITT in the evenings on my carb loads (one or two days a week), since I am on the AD. I find that this works best for me and gets me lean as hell with no muscle loss, if done correctly.

A lot of people will argue that fasted cardio is catabolic, but usually people will use THIER bad experiences with certain exercises and say that it’s bad to do because they didn’t do it right or don’t have a good diet.

I take 6-9 grams of amino acids/BCAA’s with 3 bags of green tea, to give me some caffeine, 30 minutes before doing morning cardio, followed by a protein shake as soon as I get done. My cardio session in the morning is low intensity and no longer than 35-45 minutes.
This is what works best for me.

Sprints with a sled = game over

I too was to lazy to read all of what you typed, probably will later but my faviorite cardio is cercuit lifting. Being tall running has never been good for my knees, so I tend to avoid it. But cercuit lifting is great cardio with little impact. If I was a much better swimer it would probably be swiming.

Walking just walk

Tire flipping, sled dragging. car pushing/dragging, spints, tabata sledge hammer work, carries medleys keep it interesting and fun and youll do more burn more etc.

Phill

KB circuits for time, breathing ladders mixed in sprints, strongman conditioning e.g farmers, sled rope pulls tyre flips, light barbell complexes.

I dislike steady rate cardio and also get bored with it quickly. I seem to get good results like this, enjoy it a lot and can challenge myself a bit more.

It also has a better carry over to my wrestling

Thanks for a detailed and nice answer to my question Terry, I’ll definitely take all of this into consideration.

Now, I’m thinking, as I try to play badminton or tennis, once per week each, and I don’t let these coincide with my lifting days (I lift monday, wednesday, friday). How best should I incorporate HIIT into my routine?

I could probably rearrange my routine to go twice to the gym in one day, I also have the weekends relatively free?

If I’m trying to lean out a bit (getting rid of some old, stubborn fat) where would it be best for me to get in some cardio?

Cthulu: after reading your reply I’m really thinking of incorporating some semi-fasted cardio, maybe 2x per week, see how that works?

sledge hammer work for non-sport-specific.

For sport specific I pick rounds of thai pad work. It’s fun, stress relieveing(sp? I hate Ie browser at school) and not boring.

-chris

[quote]steinnes wrote:

Cthulu: after reading your reply I’m really thinking of incorporating some semi-fasted cardio, maybe 2x per week, see how that works?[/quote]

If you’re looking to really lean up, morning cardio with some BCAA’s/Whey 30 minutes before and some HOT-ROX with it will really get you in shape, providing your diet too is in gear.
But give it a try and tell me how you’re doing after you try it.

[quote]Cthulhu wrote:
steinnes wrote:

Cthulu: after reading your reply I’m really thinking of incorporating some semi-fasted cardio, maybe 2x per week, see how that works?

If you’re looking to really lean up, morning cardio with some BCAA’s/Whey 30 minutes before and some HOT-ROX with it will really get you in shape, providing your diet too is in gear.
But give it a try and tell me how you’re doing after you try it.[/quote]

Yeah, I’d say my diet is pretty much in check, eating about 6 times per day, carbs only in the morning and post workout, lots of fibrous green veggies with every meal, and getting in around 200-250g of protein per day.

Classic day would be something like;
meal 1: 50g whey, 1 dark break sandwich with low fat cream cheese
meal 2: spinach + rucola with some chicken, salad dressing w/ olive oil and balsamik vinegar
meal 3: the same
meal 4: the same
meal 5: post workout 70g whey, 30g carbs (recovery mostly, this ratio seems to be working for that)
meal 6 (right before bed): same as meal 1, maybe some cottage cheese or low fat mozarella on the salad.
Before bed it’s zma and some trib.

I take about 3-4 tablespoons of pure omega-3 oil per day, as well as around 3-4g of cod liver oil (caps), I also get in a multi, 4x lipo6 (yeah, I should’ve got HOT-ROX, I know), 4g sesamine, and some green tea extract. I also take glucosamine and chondroitin most days to help with my joints.

I know my diet isn’t as detailed and dialed in as it could be, but considering I just moved to a different country around 8 weeks ago, and have just started lifting again after finding a good gym, I’m focusing on getting back in the routine of lifting – which is going really fucking well, I love it so much, it’s actually the most enjoyable thing I do. It’s what I look forward to and think about almost all day.

Wow, I guess I’m going off a bit here, but I’ve just recently been suffering with some information overload from reading too much about training and nutrition during the day, so to counteract that, I’m focusing on just staying consistent, sticking with the program I outlined for 6 weeks, and trying as darned hard as I can to follow the 7 habits – see where that gets me, and then make changes if I’m not satisfied.

[quote]steinnes wrote:
Cthulhu wrote:
steinnes wrote:

Cthulu: after reading your reply I’m really thinking of incorporating some semi-fasted cardio, maybe 2x per week, see how that works?

If you’re looking to really lean up, morning cardio with some BCAA’s/Whey 30 minutes before and some HOT-ROX with it will really get you in shape, providing your diet too is in gear.
But give it a try and tell me how you’re doing after you try it.

Yeah, I’d say my diet is pretty much in check, eating about 6 times per day, carbs only in the morning and post workout, lots of fibrous green veggies with every meal, and getting in around 200-250g of protein per day.

Classic day would be something like;
meal 1: 50g whey, 1 dark break sandwich with low fat cream cheese
meal 2: spinach + rucola with some chicken, salad dressing w/ olive oil and balsamik vinegar
meal 3: the same
meal 4: the same
meal 5: post workout 70g whey, 30g carbs (recovery mostly, this ratio seems to be working for that)
meal 6 (right before bed): same as meal 1, maybe some cottage cheese or low fat mozarella on the salad.
Before bed it’s zma and some trib.

I take about 3-4 tablespoons of pure omega-3 oil per day, as well as around 3-4g of cod liver oil (caps), I also get in a multi, 4x lipo6 (yeah, I should’ve got HOT-ROX, I know), 4g sesamine, and some green tea extract. I also take glucosamine and chondroitin most days to help with my joints.

I know my diet isn’t as detailed and dialed in as it could be, but considering I just moved to a different country around 8 weeks ago, and have just started lifting again after finding a good gym, I’m focusing on getting back in the routine of lifting – which is going really fucking well, I love it so much, it’s actually the most enjoyable thing I do. It’s what I look forward to and think about almost all day.

Wow, I guess I’m going off a bit here, but I’ve just recently been suffering with some information overload from reading too much about training and nutrition during the day, so to counteract that, I’m focusing on just staying consistent, sticking with the program I outlined for 6 weeks, and trying as darned hard as I can to follow the 7 habits – see where that gets me, and then make changes if I’m not satisfied.[/quote]

Looks pretty good. As I’m assuming this is for fat-loss, see where this lands you. If you’re not dropping much fat, don’t cut the calories too low, but try adding in some cardio.
Keep me posted on how it’s going.

[quote]Cthulhu wrote:
Looks pretty good. As I’m assuming this is for fat-loss, see where this lands you. If you’re not dropping much fat, don’t cut the calories too low, but try adding in some cardio.
Keep me posted on how it’s going.[/quote]

Thanks!

Yeah, this is for fat loss, but being a relative newcomer to lifting (lifted for about 5 months from june-nov. then due to moving, etc, no lifting in dec, jan, until late feb), I am hoping to get some noob gains again. Man last summer was awesome. Ate massively, got a lot stronger, then my weight stayed the same for like 2-3 months, while my body comp got better and better… damn…

Anyway, on my third week of lifting now, and my strength is almost back to where it was last fall, and I’m keeping a training log this time (pen & paper) to track my progress and weight.

Now I’m a lot more focussed on results. I used to be a heavy drinker, now I’m cutting that down to 2-3 drinks once per month, I also recently won my battle with the damn cigarettes, and things are really looking up.

I have T-Nation to thank for most of my dedication, as it made me realise what a slob I really was. I am literally ashamed of how I was satisfied before with just doing more than “most people”.

Great thread Tampa, I like sprints personally. Even though you are using your legs, I feel sore throughout my whole body. I come to find out later that your back muscles are used to off-set the torque produced by the leg muscles, mainly the posterior chain. I have always achieved my leanest and most muscular state using this protocol.

What I’ve been doing lately is the 5-minute Fitness test on the exercise bike. At the end of 5 minutes you get a little number, your “fit score”… I kinda like that because it gives me something to beat next time. Also, since its “only” 5 minutes, you can REAAALLLLY push yourself hard.

Not much, but if you do it 5 times a week, thats 25 minutes of HIGH intensity cardio. The 5 minutes lasts forever it seems because of how hard you are pedaling. Try it out.

treadmill: 10mins, no incline (flat) @ 7 mph then…

45secs off, 30secs on MAX incline @ 8mph for 10 reps.

once you do 10reps easy add an mph

Congrads on giving up the cigarettes. That in it’s self is a defeat. Just keep eating enough and workin’ hard in the gym and I’m sure you’ll achieve your goals. I’m not a big drinker, but even I need my Jack Daniels come ST. Patricks day!
By the way, what made you move?

[quote]steinnes wrote:
Cthulhu wrote:
Looks pretty good. As I’m assuming this is for fat-loss, see where this lands you. If you’re not dropping much fat, don’t cut the calories too low, but try adding in some cardio.
Keep me posted on how it’s going.

Thanks!

Yeah, this is for fat loss, but being a relative newcomer to lifting (lifted for about 5 months from june-nov. then due to moving, etc, no lifting in dec, jan, until late feb), I am hoping to get some noob gains again. Man last summer was awesome. Ate massively, got a lot stronger, then my weight stayed the same for like 2-3 months, while my body comp got better and better… damn…

Anyway, on my third week of lifting now, and my strength is almost back to where it was last fall, and I’m keeping a training log this time (pen & paper) to track my progress and weight.

Now I’m a lot more focussed on results. I used to be a heavy drinker, now I’m cutting that down to 2-3 drinks once per month, I also recently won my battle with the damn cigarettes, and things are really looking up.

I have T-Nation to thank for most of my dedication, as it made me realise what a slob I really was. I am literally ashamed of how I was satisfied before with just doing more than “most people”.[/quote]

[quote]Cthulhu wrote:
Congrads on giving up the cigarettes. That in it’s self is a defeat. Just keep eating enough and workin’ hard in the gym and I’m sure you’ll achieve your goals. I’m not a big drinker, but even I need my Jack Daniels come ST. Patricks day!
By the way, what made you move?
[/quote]

Thanks! This is the plan :slight_smile:

The move was job and education related, however things are still all up in the air, might have to move again in 6-10 months – these are not very happy times for me.

Yesterday, I did some chest, tris, bis, back, and afterwards 10 minutes of HIIT.

Tomorrow morning, it’s getting up at 7 AM, hitting the gym for some semi-fasted cardio, at 8, and (thankfully) no cardio after the afternoons/evenings planned leg session.

Or should I keep some cardio in, after my lifts, as well? I usually like to keep it short, so I can down my PWO shake as soon as possible, but after reading what Terry had to say, I’m really wondering if I’m just slowing development doing it this way?

This is a fairly interesting question because I found myself getting a little too cardio-phobic of late. It’s like if you used that dreaded “c” word, people would howl about muscle loss and the superiority of GPP (a term which I understand, but still makes me chuckle a little bit).

Right now I crank out a 4 minute Tabata after my lifting sessions and then on non-lifting days, I am either playing soccer (my favorite form of cardio) or maybe interval work with a heavy bag/jumping rope. Heck, when it gets warmer, I will likely be out mountain biking as well.

My overall issue with a lot of the bagging on cardio I see is that if I avoided some of the more traditional cardio, I would be borderline useless playing soccer with zero endurance to speak of. I am just trying to find the sweet spot of keeping all the muscle I can while being an athlete who can jump into any of the sports I am interested in.

I love doing cardio personally, it just makes me feel so much more fit, and helps me when engaging in sports.

However, I do also want to use the cardio for better body composition, and I don’t want it to burn up my muscles, as I need more of those not less, heheh :wink:

So this, yeah, is a very interesting question.

I’ve been thinking about this all day, and I’m slowly reaching the conclusion to try something like this;

mon – semi-fasted morning cardio, weights in evening
tue – tennis in the evening
wed – weights in the evening
thu – badminton in the evening
fri – semi-fasted morning cardio, weights in evening

If this doesn’t cut it, try and work some HIIT in during the weekends maybe?

I’m quite stumped, because I don’t see myself having the energy early in the AM to do anything with high intensity, and I love at least moderate intensity cardio.

EDIT: Just read up on tabata – fucking hell, I’m trying this shit after every lifting session.

My favorite form of cardio is twenty minutes of interval training.


5 minute warmup
5 minute faster warmup

1min sprint
30s jog
1min sprint
30s jog
1min sprint
30s jog
1min sprint
30s jog

5 minute faster cooldown
5 minute slower cooldown

stretch

Sometimes I do burpees on a 1min work / 30s rest interval chain for 10 minutes or so.

I like to add a chinup to the burpee chain at the end of each full rep.


Let’s not forget the best cardio of all: hard fast humping for endurance.

I always wonder how non-athletes who live a sedentary lifestyle can possibly perform in the bedroom. While it’s TRUE that sex is not a marathon act but is rather more of an act of finesse…it’s ALSO TRUE that if you can’t hump hard and fast for 10 minutes at a time sometimes, then you’re missing an important trick.


-wires