Cardio Training

My goal is to do cardio no more than 35 min, 5 days per week. I believe when this is exceeded the results for weight loss can be less efficient. However, when I am about 6-8 weeks out from competition I do not apply this rule and usually do a little more.

The first step for cardio is to know your goal. You should already have one; if not make one now. Your goal needs to be specific, attainable, and there needs to be a deadline. Why? Keep reading.

Cardio can be catabolic (breaks down muscle); therefore, we want to do the minimum amount of cardio to lose between ½ - 2 lbs per week. It seems to me, most people after the age of 30 should be doing cardio at least twice a week. I do cardio twice a week for 30 min when bulking, this seems to be just enough to keep my body fat in check (keeps me from getting too fat). If I could get by with doing less, I would. The less cardio that is done in the off season, the easier it is to start losing fat when you want. Example: If someone can get by doing cardio only 1 day a week during their off season, they'll more than likely be losing fat already when they start cutting and start doing cardio only 2 times per week.
In my case, I am already doing cardio 2 times a week to simply keep my body fat in check. Just starting out I would have to increase my cardio to 3 days a week just to lose fat at a similar rate as this other fella (in the example). Not only that, but whose going to eventually run out of steam 1st and play all they're cards 1st? Me. Months down the road I will be maxed out doing cardio nearly every day, when this other fella is doing less cardio and still has some steam left to step things up if needed. This is just one of many examples I could give. My point is that when you decide you're ready to start losing weight, 1st make sure your diet is in check, then do the minimum amount of cardio to lose your ½-2 lbs per week. Don't start off too aggressive or you will max out (plateau) quickly and possibly lose muscle. The goal is to continue doing the minimal amount of cardio for as long as possible, without making adjustments.

Once you go a week or 2 without losing any more weight, play another card (i.e. increase the intensity of your cardio sessions and/or add a day (or 2) of cardio). Go a few weeks or however long it takes until your weight loss stalls again and do the same thing (Now your intensity of most of your sessions should be maxed out (very high)). At this point you're doing intense, steady cardio around 35 minutes, about 3-4 days a week, and 1-2 days of moderate intensity. What's next? Replace most of your high intensity cardio sessions with Interval Training (High Intensity Interval Training).

You can create the intervals however you'd like; I usually do 1 minute moderate intensity (jog), then 30 seconds full blown sprint, 1 minute moderate, 30 seconds sprint, etc. Be careful, if done correct you might feel a little woozy. You can do this at the track or on any piece of cardio equipment you'd like. This should never be done more than 4-5 days per week for 30 minutes, and never on leg day. Strive to increase intensity each week. The next step after fat burning stalls again is lightening up (or even eliminating) on the carbs (NOT breakfast, NOT too much pre workout, and NOT post workout). Now we are almost maxed out and if we spaced things out correctly, we should be super close to our goal/deadline.

After progression stops again, I start cycling my carbs. The cycle I use is 3 days in a row of low carbs (mainley eating carbs the 1st meal of the day, pre workout meal, & post workout meal), then 1 day consuming carbs every meal of the day (this is called the re-feed day).  I then simply repeat 3 days low, 1 day re-feed, etc.. Warning: This last step is an extreme measure, usually only done by physique competitors. It's not healthy to be carb deprived especially under an intense workout regimen.

Once your weight loss slows again you can now do cardio up to 7 days a week.

Hopefully you reached your goal by now; if not here's the final step. Make your weight training sessions a little shorter by incorporating super sets. Now with the time saved, you can tack on 15-20 minutes of cardio immediately after weight training 2-3 days a week (not to mention the super setting will burn some extra calories as well). But it is important to shorten the duration of your weight training routine if you add cardio, your body is so carb deprived at this point it cannot be in the gym for any longer than normal. Also, you should continue to do a few normal (non- super set) heavy sets to keep strength.

8 Steps of Cardio

Here is the same thing you've just read, but simplified into 8 easy steps:

Step 1 - Make sure your diet is in check (see nutrition page), then do the minimum amount of cardio to lose your ½-2 lbs per week. Don't start off too aggressive or you will max out (plateau) quickly. I usually don't exceed 35 minutes per session.

Step 2 - Once you go a week or 2 without losing any more weight, increase the intensity of your cardio sessions and/or add an additional day of cardio.

Step 3 - Go a few weeks or however long it takes until your weight loss stalls again and do the same thing. Now your cardio intensity (of most or all sessions) should be maxed out (very high).

Step 4 - At this point you're doing steady intense cardio about 35 minutes, 3-4 days a week, and 1-2 days a week of moderate intensity for 35 minutes. What's next? Replace most of your high intensity cardio sessions with Interval Training (High Intensity Interval Training). This should be done no more than 30 minutes a day, 4 days per week. (You can still do 2-3 days of steady moderate cardio as well).

Step 5 - Since our cardio is pretty much maxed out. The next step after fat burning stalls again is consuming less carbs (or possibly eliminating them). BUT NOT breakfast, NOT pre workout, and NOT post workout (you need carbs in these meals). Hopefully at this point you're at, or at least close to your goal/deadline.

Step 6 - After progression stops, I start my carb cycle. The cycle I use is 3 days in a row of extremely low carbs (mainley eating carbs the 1st meal of the day, and Pre & Post Workout meals), then 1 day consuming carbs every meal (this is called the re-feed day), I then repeat 3 days low, 1 day re-feed, etc.. Warning: This last step is an extreme measure, usually only done by physique competitors. Its not healthy to be carb deprived especially under an intense workout regimen.

Step 7-  Once results diminish again; cardio can now be done up to seven days per week.

Step 8 - Make your weight training sessions a little shorter by incorporating super sets with less rest between sets. Now with the time saved you can tack on 15-20 minutes of cardio immediately after weight training 2-3 days a week (not to mention the fast & intense super setting will burn some extra calories as well). You must still do some normal heavy sets to keep strength.

I've heard of some people starting their carb cycle closer to the beginning of their cutting phase. To be honest, I have yet to try this so I cannot comment.

There are a million and one ways to skin a cat, everyone's body is different and can respond differently to different methods. The above and everything else on this site is simply the philosophy I use. It would be impossible to share with you every last element as some of the fine details are exclusive to certain body types. But as stated earlier, I'm giving you the "nuts and bolts"(and hopefully more) for optimum weight loss or weight gain methods. You can then add, or take away certain items- tailoring to your needs.

If or when I change my current method of training, I'll be sure to update this site keeping all the viewers current on what seems to work best (in my opinion).