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?
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?