When Is The Best Time To Do Cardio?
Some people wake up at 4:00am just to do their cardio. Then later in the day they do their weightlifting routine. Others do their cardio before or after their workout routine. Some run at midnight to avoid heat.
When is the best time to do cardio?
Should cardio be done near the time of weightlifting or should there be a certain amount of hours between the two?
Can someone add cardio to their weight training and still gain size and muscle mass?
Is it better to do cardio after eating, or on an empty stomach? Why?
What is your favorite type of cardio? (HIIT, Interval, etc...)
BONUS QUESTION: What is the most effective cardio exercise? Why?
- 1st Place ho_124
- 1st Place (tie) cobain67
- 2nd Place sword chucks
- 3rd Place (tie) kill_yourself
- 3rd Place (tie) live4this13
- 3rd Place (tie) mivi320
- 3rd Place (tie) ShannonC_77
1st Place ho_124
Cardio Exercise Now Or Then?
Cardio exercise without question is an essential part of any training routine whether it be a bodybuilding, strength training, sports training or most obviously a running workout schedule. It increases our endurance levels and is also an important factor in preventing all sorts of heart problems and diseases.
But its not as easy as just going outside and mindlessly running around for a few minutes and getting results. Its the same as weightlifting.
You dont just go in a gym and start curling the heaviest weight you see using horrible form. There are many different opinions on how to properly do cardio to achieve certain goals.
Some of these views are totally wrong and can mislead you and instead of moving you forward will actually set you back in the wrong direction. This is why it is so important to know what certain types of cardio are doing to your body and how to do it properly. Just like weightlifting.
When Is The Best Time To Do Cardio?
There is no set time where you make the best gains to do cardio. It ranges for everyone, for example if you feel like total crap in the morning and you need an hour or two to feel fully energized, then you obviously arent a morning person so then dont do it in the morning. Listen to your body, you wouldnt pump iron if you were half-awake.
Like I said everyones body is different. So basically the best time for you to do your cardio exercise is when you feel it is the best time to do it, and stick to that time. But there is still more to this, there are still a few guidelines you should follow so that you dont end up setting yourself back. These will help you understand when to perform your cardio for better results, or the results you want.
Cardio In The Morning On An Empty Stomach
First of all NO! Cardio in the morning is probably the most stupid idea I have ever heard. This isnt just my opinion but the most knowledgeable trainers and exercise experts agree that cardio in the morning on an empty stomach is not good for you body.
Well, you might ask, what if I want to burn fat? I have low glycogen stores in the morning and my energy levels are low because I dont have carbohydrates, so then I will tap into my fat stores right? This is TOTALLY wrong. The complete opposite happens.
Let me enlighten you. Fat burn doesnt occur during cardio exercise, but about two hours after. Instead your body will look at your tasty muscles for energy meaning. Bye bye muscles. This is a bodybuilders worst nightmare.
So unless your goal is to become scrawny and lose muscle then by all means do cardio in the morning. Its also common sense not to do it on an empty stomach.
You wont have a satisfactory amount of energy meaning decreases performance which = crappier results. And if you think about it, your body has just fasted for eight hours and it needs something to eat to refuel itself.
Not feeding your body and doing exercise is like going into war without any ammunition.
Dont Get Me Wrong Yes, dont get me wrong, it isnt that doing cardio in the morning is bad, but doing it on an empty stomach is bad unless you want to lose muscle instead of fat.
So when you wake up at 5:00 A.M at least have something light to eat and wait at least 30-45 minutes before performing your cardio. Like I said earlier if youre a morning person and you feel best in the morning then keep doing it in the morning, just make sure you dont do it on an empty stomach.
Cardio Workout Right Before Weightlifting?
Again this is also a HUGE NO! Not unless you dont want good results from pumping iron, then I guess you're wasting your time in the gym if you go all out and perform cardio before your workouts.
But for a lot of people, especially women, they dont want to gain serious mass, so then if your weight workout is relatively low intensity and doesnt leave you feeling like you just got hit by a car, then by all means you can do cardio before your workout.
But for most of the guys, they want some serious mass, and let me tell you that the last few reps (Say the last 3-2 reps) where you struggle and sweat is where you stimulate your muscles to grow. But when you run before working out, an intense cardio workout totally or almost depletes your glycogen stores.
When weightlifting, you dont use as much of your glycogen stores, but you still need quite a bit (This might come as a surprise to some people but its true).
So if you have no glycogen stores which is your muscles source of energy and your pushing yourself to max, the energy wont be there to push those last few grueling reps meaning a way less effective workout.
Another reason why this is such a big NO is because during a hard cardio session, protein synthesis drops low and protein breakdown goes up. During a weight lifting session, protein synthesis either goes up a little or stays the same while protein breakdown goes up.
After your cardio session while protein synthesis drops (Meaning your bodys ability to build muscle), and you hit the weights, the result will be that your bodies ability to build muscle will be impaired because of your cardio training depending on how intense your cardio was.
So Let's Make Up A Situation
Billy goes and does his intense cardio workout. After that his protein synthesis drops and muscle breakdown goes high.
He goes weightlifting and instead of his protein synthesis being normal or slightly elevated, it is very low because of his cardio session. Plus his muscles are in a state of breakdown.
So basically you dont want your bodys ability to build/repair muscle (Protein synthesis) to be impaired right after a weight workout.
Again, Dont Get Me Wrong
Yes, dont get me wrong again, what I just explained above is doing cardio right before your workout or even an hour before your workout. But it is all right if you do your cardio exercise then your weightlifting program after if you give yourself an adequate amount of time to recover and replenish your glycogen stores.
But in between you must have the proper nutrition to stop protein breakdown and increase muscle synthesis before you hit the weights. Plus you have to replenish your muscles glycogen stores.
Still though, your performance in the weight room may suffer even though you have given yourself enough rest and nutrition, so it is best if you do your weight lifting before anything else to make sure that you lift to your full potential.
Also if you do an intense cardio session and eat hamburgers and fries then 6 hours later do your cardio session, it just wont cut it. Another thing is if your cardio workout is relatively short and low/very low intensity then its all right to hit the weights right after.
Cardio Right After Weights?
Doing cardio right after weights is way better than doing it before weights. The reason being is that weight lifting doesnt deplete your glycogen stores as bad as it does in cardio workouts depending on how intense you go.
So you still will have some of your glycogen stores left meaning that you can still get an alright cardio session. But for a more effective cardio session right after a workout, I recommend waiting at least 2 hours even more (If you have the time to do this) before doing your cardio.
In between this time it is important you replenish your glycogen stores quickly, and stop protein breakdown as fast as possible. But if you dont have the time it is still alright to do it right after weights. Just be prepared to have a less effective cardio session.
For Best Results!
For best results in your cardio training, try to do schedule your sessions separate from your weightlifting program. So if you lift weights 4 times a week, then do running on the other three days that youre not lifting weights.
Just remember try to schedule your cardio session as far away as possible from your leg lifting schedule, because running on super sore tired legs basically sucks. Doing cardio on separate days than weight lifting ensures that you have the proper energy to perform your best in either your cardio or lifting session.
If you cannot then do your cardio after your workouts at least. You also have to do cardio after weights if you have 4-5 cardio sessions and are a serious weight lifter.
Remember you get the best gains when you have the most energy. Yea, if you did an all out run for 45 minutes do you think you could have a good leg workout?
Doing Cardio And Gaining Serious Mass? Is It Possible?
Yes it is possible, it can be done. A bodybuilder would cry at the idea of losing precious hard gained muscle. This is also one of those topics that also depends on your goals.
If a bodybuilder wants to gain serious mass and still maintain a balance in his cardiovascular system then it is totally possible to do it without losing muscle.
But if someone wants to gain serious mass and wants to be a professional marathon runner, then my answer is no since heavy training in the field of endurance, marathon running, and long distance running causes major muscle loss over time.
Just look at all the marathon athletes, they are scrawny not muscular. If you want to be well rounded (Meaning quite cardiovascular fit while still having decent muscle and strength), then your cardio program might cause slight/very slight muscle loss depending on how long, intense and how many times a week you do it.
But, your weight lifting program will cause you to gain more mass than is lost and you WILL get stronger. So there are basically two categories for this topic. Guys who want huge mass and dont want to lose it and guys who want some mass and strength but also want to be cardiovascular fit.
So for the guys who want to get big without losing muscle and just want to do enough cardio to stay balanced, well doing cardio three days a week for 30-45 minutes at 60-75% of your max heart rate is enough that you will maintain and get benefits for your cardio system and you also will NOT lose muscle.
So theres the good news for all the bodybuilders who get the crap scared out of them by cardio. Now for the people who want to be well rounded.
If you want to be pretty decently fit in the cardiovascular system and still be strong and have mass, then do cardio about 4-5 times a week from anywhere to 45-60 minutes at 60-85% of your max.
Remember the higher the intensity (heart rate), times exercised a week and length of exercise determines how much muscle you will lose. So if you run everyday for two hours then you lose lots of muscle over time.
For those of you who are still scared, I run 6 times a week for 1 hour and 15 minutes and I still made strength gains in the gym.
My Favorite Type Of Cardio
To bluntly put it, my favorite type of cardio is the good old constant run. Running for an hour an hour and fifteen minutes at 65-80% of my max is great for me.
Im very fit in the cardio system and still I make strength gains which are also good because my goal is not to get big and bulky. I just want to add some decent muscle mass and strength.
Remember it depends on your goal and what you want.
BONUS QUESTION: The Most Effective Cardio Exercise
There is no "Most Effective Cardio Exercise." Just like how there is no best way to workout or no best martial art. It all depends on your goal and what you want to do. Still stuck? Let me help you a little.
Basically There Are Four Main Goals Which People Want Are:
To have massive muscles and let nothing get in the way of letting you lose it but still maintaining a balance between cardio and weight lifting.
To be well rounded meaning being fit and still have muscle and strength.
To be extremely fit in the cardio system which is your only goal, and you dont care about gaining muscle (Distance running or marathon running).
To lose weight.
Here are a few ways of doing each goal
1 Gaining Huge Muscle
HIIT (High intensity interval training)
HIIT combines the use of all out intervals and periods of lower intensity periods. Dont worry, if you are well fed and energized, these sessions last for only 30 minutes at the max, in that time you wont use up enough of your energy that you will have to tap into your muscle stores.
The Good Old Run
Run at most for 3 days a week for 30-45 minutes and you wont lose any muscle if your well fed and energized. Try running outside because on a treadmill, staring at a wall for 30+ minutes is kind of... It sucks.
2 To Be Well Rounded
I would not recommend high intensity interval training (HIIT) because if you want to be quite fit in the cardio system, HIIT doesnt cut it, sorry boys and girls.
Doing cardio 4-5 times a week for 45-60 minutes will make you have great cardio gains. Your endurance will be quite noticeable and you might lose a bit of muscle. But if you do weights, you will be stronger and bigger (Just don't expect to be the next Ronnie Coleman).
Biking and skipping are also good ways of increasing cardio fitness. Biking works more on strength in your legs while skipping develops more quickness in the feet while utilizing more calve muscles.
Both are very good ways of improving fitness. Except for skipping, I recommend incorporating it in a running or biking schedule and shortening the time. Dont just skip 4-5 times a week.
3 To Be Extremely Fit
This isnt for muscle gainers, over time you will lose a significant amount of muscle. It is more geared only towards long distance or marathon runners.
- You must run 5-7 times a week.
- Sessions range from 6 mile runs to 18 mile runs.
- The only exercise is running.
4 Fat Loss
High intensity interval training (HIIT). This is great for burning fat since you run at the fat burn level for the lower intensity periods and burn more calories in the high intensity levels.
Running, skipping and biking. These are great for losing weight. If youre overweight, slowly work your way up. For fat loss, exercise at the fat burning zone. For beginners run 3-4 times a week for 20-30 minutes. Gradually work your way up to 4-5 times a week for 30-60 minutes.
Remember any type of cardio activity will burn fat. You just have to be consistent and you will shed the pounds. Many people give up because they arent seeing results, but really a month isnt enough to see huge results.
So yea, dont listen to the commercials where you can lose 60 pounds in a month. DON'T EVEN BELIEVE IN THAT CRAP. There are NO shortcuts, you cant stick some piece of crap machine on your chest and get fit.
The only way is to follow a consistent and well planned exercise routine. Some people shed the pounds fast and others slow because everyone has different bodies
Another note here, try avoiding running on the treadmill. It is not natural running and in some people it could set them back. Also you have a chance of mentally burning out running on the treadmill. Staring at a wall in an enclosed environment can get very boring meaning you will burn out mentally and give up.
1st Place (tie) cobain67
The "Optimal" Time Of Day For Cardio
From personal experience, there is no dead set time of day in which cardiovascular exercise is performed. One should perform cardio when they have the time. This is the case with the common HIIT type of cardio.
There are theories circulating around that performing an HIIT session in the early morning is universally beneficial for stimulating an elevated metabolism for the entire day.
Doing this will allow you to burn a greater "net" caloric number at the end of your day, whether you sit at a desk the rest of the day and do nothing or are on your feet.
Of course being on your feet the rest of the day will burn that many more calories than doing nothing, but the whole point is to elevate the metabolism.
Low intensity cardio is the "safe" route to cardio, as you greatly preserve glycogen stores and burn primarily from fat stores. This type of cardio is considered to be the "best" type to perform in a fasted state (in the early morning) or depleted state (post workout).
Cardio & Weightlifting
This is a very controversial topic, and everyone has their own view on this, but personally I think that cardio is more than ok to do immediately following a workout. Now before you even begin to say "well wont I burn all my muscle etc, etc.." let me finish.
I said cardio is fine to do post workout, but the one thing I hold as most valuable is the intensity of that cardio session. I believe that performing 30-45 minutes of low intensity cardio, in which you keep your heart rate at 65-75% of your max heart rate*, is a great way to burn fat and spare muscle tissue, even when totally depleted from training.
As I mentioned earlier, this is greatly possible due to the fact that Low Intensity cardio burns primarily FFA's for fuel rather than glucose. Save the HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) for another day, or separate your session at least 6 hours from your training session.
This is my suggestion, as HIIT implements the usage of carbohydrates and glucose to fuel the session. Lactate production also increases, which decreases the FFA mobilization rate and increases the re esterfication rate (SP?).
This is where glucose/carbs become vital and your body turns directly to glycogen/glucose for fuel. Now in lower-intensity cardio, the Lactate production remains low and FFA mobilization remains elevated, which in tern causes the body to use oxidated fats as its fuel source.
Max Heart Rate
To calculate your Max Heart-Rate, take 220 and subtract your age. For me this would be 220-17 = 203. Now for low-intensity, I would remain at 65-75% of that, so ~132-152 beats/minute.
Don't trust the machines estimate of your heart rate though, instead do as I do and place your index and middle finger on either side of your adam's apple (male) or windpipe (female) and hold them there for 10 seconds.
Then take that number and multiply it by 6 to get your average heart rate per minute. Usually in 10 seconds during low intensity I get ~22-24 beats, giving me about 132-144bpm for my heart rate.
The summary here is that cardio and weightlifting can be done simultaneously, if it is kept at a low intensity. If the desire to perform HIIT is present, then one should wait 6 hours or so and treat it just like a weight training session, incorporating a pre and post workout meal.
Cardio And Its Effect On Muscle Growth
Can cardio be added while trying to put on size? Most certainly! In fact, cardio should always be done, whether the goal is to add mass or lean out. Cardio is very important for maintaining a healthy heart and is also very beneficial in helping one to keep relatively lean while adding size.
The key here though is to keep it under control. If you are adding size, be sure to not burn too many calories and try to stick to maybe 3-4 days per week. I would recommend low-intensity in a fasted state in the morning on off days for 45 minutes or so.
If you choose to you may have a protein shake prior with added DAG (enova) oil for an increased burning of lipids. If you choose to have the shake, you could perform a session of HIIT over the low-intensity, as you are no longer fasted.
Personally, I prefer low-intensity if I am going to do it in the early morning while bulking, because HIIT tends to be taxing on the energy levels and sometimes hinders my recovery for the following leg session.
One should not leave out HIIT all together though, as HIIT has been shown on numerous occasions to stimulate protein synthesis and increase the production of muscle-building hormones IGF-1 and growth hormone.
Most people think that weightlifting is the only way to do this. Well, they are wrong. Sprints and HIIT-type cardio do this with equal efficiency. We all know that IGF-1 and GH play a very important role in the growth and recovery of muscle tissue.
I would personally do 2 sessions of HIIT type cardio, and 2 sessions of low intensity cardio per week on off days. I think that while trying to add mass, cardio is best left for off days, thus allowing optimal nutrient partitioning to muscle tissue from weight training, and allowing the body to rest for optimal growth.
The Bottom Line
Cardio is a must whether you are bulking/cutting or maintaining. If bulking, try to separate the cardio session from weight training, and try not to do HIIT the same day. Keep an eye on your caloric consumption vs. the total calories burned during exercise to ensure you are eating enough to grow with.
Cardio & Eating
As with this topic, there are two sides to the coin as well. If the cardio-type is low intensity, then it is not necessary to fuel the session with carbohydrates, because once again FFA's are the primary source of fuel here, and this type of cardio is very glycogen-sparing.
This is not to say that you cannot eat carbs before doing low-intensity cardio, but just be sure it fits into your daily macronutrient profile, as the carbohydrates you do eat will not be burned by this form of cardio, and will be stored as glycogen that will be (hopefully) used at a later time.
Recently though, there has been discussion on how low-intensity cardio is more effective if you do eat a form of carbohydrates beforehand, as some say that glucose is needed for FFA transport, however this is not proven and should not be taken to heart.
If you wish to perform HIIT cardio, then a balanced meal of protein and carbohydrates is vital, as the metabolic response to HIIT is that of a weight training session, and burns glucose for fuel over FFA's.
Think of it this way, would you go and lift on an empty stomach? Hopefully not. Now you can just chug a shake if you like, as protein can be used for fuel in this session as well, as the body is capable of converting protein to glucose when necessary.
The goal however with HIIT should not be to "burn only fat," but rather to elevate the metabolism for the remainder of the day. Not eating anything prior will not increase the number of calories burned from fat, and will simply increase the level of catabolism your body is already in from not eating for 8+ hours or so.
Again though, make sure you don't eat an "extra" meal prior to cardio, just take away from the remainder of the day's meal calories. I personally just eat 1/2 a cup of 100% rolled oats with a scoop or two of protein.
This is enough to give you a steady state of energy, but not enough to cause gastric distress and cramping during the session. Wait approximately 30 minutes after this meal to do your HIIT.
Following the session, as you would in a workout, have a scoop of protein with some sort of carbohydrate immediately following. The carbs don't have to be High GI in this shake either.
Same goes for after training. The volume of this shake should be a 1:2 ratio of protein to carbs, and doesn't need to be as "large" as your regular PW shake for lifting.
If you do not wish to drink a shake, just be sure to eat a balanced meal (breakfast if in the morning) about 30 minutes or so later if possible.
The Bottom Line
Low intensity cardio does not require you to eat anything, although the controversy arises over the thought that glucose is necessary for FFA transport and oxidation, although this is not proven at this point from a reliable source.
HIIT should always include some form of food or a shake and should be treated as a weight-training session in terms of nutritional requirements.
My Preferred Cardio Source
I personally like to mix things up to reduce the boredom and lack of motivation that accompanies continuous repetition of the same cardio over and over again.
So on one day I will wake up bright and early to perform a session of low intensity cardio for 30-45 minutes to ease me into my day. I usually do Low intensity the day after training legs due to the level of soreness I experience in my legs.
Now next cardio session I usually perform an HIIT session mid-morning (after my meal of course) to condition my heart and for a change of pace. I like to vary my sources of the two forms of cardio as well.
For example, one day for low intensity I'll walk on an incline, and the next time I'll do a steady pace on the Stairmaster. For HIIT, one day I will do sprints on the elliptical machine, and the next time I will do sprints/intervals on the Stairmaster.
Varying my cardio types/machines as such is very helpful in reducing the "dread" associated with cardio, as you are doing something different each and every time. I generally decide what form of cardio to do based on how I feel that day as well, and won't perform HIIT if I am feeling terrible.
The Most Effective Form of Cardio
I am not a firm believer in any one form of cardio being superior to another. If it is HIIT, as long as you get your heart rate up and are really pushing yourself on the sprint intervals, it doesn't matter whether you actually sprint outside, if you do sprints on the Stairmaster, or if you do sprints on the bike.
One should always keep in mind the goal of each cardio session, which is to really push yourself at times for HIIT, or to keep your heart rate in a designated range for low intensity.
The source for low intensity cardio could vary from walking fast-paced to pedaling steadily on the stationary bike, as again you should primarily focus on the goal of the form of cardio itself rather than one machine over another.
While it is true that sprinting is very beneficial and burns a greater number of calories, it is not the "king of all cardio." While sprinting may be beneficial in many areas, it is also lacking in other places that other types of cardio are superior in.
The differences in the net calories burned is so minute from one form to another if you focus on the goal of each cardio session, that in the end it really will not matter whatsoever in terms of heart health, fat burning or endurance training.
The Bottom Line
No one cardio exercise is superior to another. Perform any form of cardiovascular exercise you want to. Cardio period is most effective. You have to gauge how your body feels to evaluate the type of cardio/exercise you choose for your session.
There you have it, my take on cardio and its mechanisms.
2nd Place sword_chucks
Cardio - The Other Workout - What To Know About Timing Your Cardio!
We put so much time into scheduling every day. We schedule our appointments, our free time and our time for hitting the iron, and much more! It almost seems like there is no time for anything else. But we are missing a key component to our health from all of this scheduling! Cardiovascular activity!
Cardiovascular activity has so many benefits for everyone - the bodybuilder, the athlete, and even your average Joes out there. The number one benefit to cardio is the effect on your heart!
The heart is truly the most important muscle and to keep blood pressure down and to keep the body pumping blood at a healthy rate, you must keep up with cardio!
Cardio has also been proven to yield an anabolic response from the body, similar to weight training, by optimizing hormone levels and, just like a resistance training session, can make the muscles into nutrient sponges, so that your food will get sucked right up by the muscles instead of just sitting there with more of a chance to be stored as fat!
Too many bodybuilders overlook cardio, especially in the off-season, thinking that it will hinder progress. This is an honest mistake. Sometimes. But most of the time it is just people wanting to spend more time on other things, when a 20 minute jog or sprint session would be much more beneficial.
This article will solve that problem! I will go into various aspects of timing your cardiovascular activity, including the optimal times for cardio, cardio in relation to weight lifting, and the notorious empty stomach cardio.
On top of that, I will suggest various forms of cardio and why they are beneficial! Read on to learn all you need to know to maximize the effect of your cardiovascular activity!
Where Cardio Should Be On YOUR Daily Planner
Obviously, everyones schedules are different. A lot of people are your typical 5-9-ers, but some work night shifts, some work afternoon shifts, or some people (like myself) are just kids who work maybe once or twice a week.
Either way, we all do not have the same free time. While a 5-9er might have trouble with afternoon cardio, they can fit it in right before work. Someone with an afternoon shift can benefit from cardio later in the day.
The best way to decide when to do cardio is to find out WHEN YOU HAVE TIME TO EAT FOR IT. As athletes, we know that nutrition is the key to any program, and you more advanced bodybuilders out there know that proper nutrition around a workout is more important than anything else.
While a session of jogging or sprinting may only take 20-30 minutes, it is obvious that more time is involved preparing for this activity. It is quite possible and even probable that you will need to devote an hour or maybe even two to your cardio!
What I am saying is, pick a time to do cardio that gives you ample time around it to eat good, healthy food before and after it. A shower might help too!
Below I will give some tips on doing cardio at various times through the day, and things to look out for at various times as well!
Early Morning Cardio
This is the route most 5-9ers take when planning out their day. Getting in a good session of cardio at the gym can be easy and once it is done, you have it out of the way.
Plus, you get a nice metabolism boost for the entire day. I believe that early morning cardio is also great because you get the increased nutrient uptake into the muscles all day, and for every meal you eat after that cardio, the positive effects on body composition are amplified (even if it is only by a fraction).
The best way to do your cardio if you choose to do it as soon as the day starts is to wait about 30 to 45 minutes after waking to begin the session. When sleeping, the blood flow is much different from when you are active.
You need to give the body at least 30 minutes to get to a fully active state. This will eliminate the chance of muscle pulls and make you feel better for your cardio!
Just like a regular resistance-training workout, you must fuel your cardio with something. You might be thinking that I have people chugging a gallon of milk with Cheerios and then going out and jogging for an hour.
On the contrary, I dont want you to have to jog around with a spoon just in case you vomit on the road and have to get those calories back down your throat.
To avoid this, just have a scoop of protein powder or some amino acids before your cardio. This will give your body adequate fuel, and the taste of most protein powders will probably be enough to wake you up as an added bonus!
The most important thing about doing ANYTHING right after waking up is that you warm up properly. For instance, if you want to do a leg workout early in the morning, you would do more than your regular amount of warm-ups for squats!
It is the same way for cardio. Before even getting into a jogging pace, start at a walking pace and build up. You will have much more energy to complete your cardio session this way!
Note:I will address the benefits of fasted cardio later on in the article. Read on to hear the TRUTH about cardio in the fasted state - what you read will probably surprise you!
Afternoon cardio takes much less care than getting ready for early morning cardio does. Doing cardio in the afternoon is okay, but I would only recommend it on a day off from any other workouts.
Why? Well, the afternoon is right in the middle of most peoples days. This means that you would not have adequate rest between your exercise should you choose to do a resistance training session later that night, or early in the morning.
The main thing to look for in afternoon cardio is how it fits in to your schedule. If you plan to do cardio in the afternoon, make sure that you will not have to rush out right after it.
Find a time in the afternoon so that you will have 30 to 60 minutes after it to relax, wash up, and consume a hearty post-workout meal.
Late Night Cardio
Another route for the 5-9er is late night cardio. This is beneficial because it allows you to get a workout in as the FIRST activity of the day, instead of having done cardio already.
Also, some people simply do not function in the morning. If that is the case, and you would perform better after the completion of your day, then do that! Everyone is different!
One thing I would recommend when doing cardio at night is to give yourself some time before going to bed. Relax for about 30 minutes as you eat a post-workout meal, so the adrenaline can return to a normal concentration in the blood.
In this right, late night cardio is the exact opposite of morning cardio. In the morning, getting ready BEFORE cardio is most important. You have to take extra care to warm up, but the cool down can be slightly neglected.
At night, though, your body is already fairly warm, but wrapping it up should be given extra consideration. Therefore, the warm-up can be slightly neglected, while the cool down is key!
Making Cardio Work For YOU
By now you should understand how to work your cardio into your schedule depending on what time you choose to do it. What matters most is not the exact timing of your cardio, but that you follow the proper guidelines for cardio depending on when you choose to do it!
As always, you have to be sure the time you allot to cardio allows you to properly prepare for it and tie it up. This includes your meals before and after it, and a shower, and sometimes the drive to and from the gym.
As you continue to read this article, you will find that the rules of cardio are really not all that rigid at all!
Cardio & Weight Training - Too Close For Comfort?
All bodybuilders have different ideas about cardio timing in relation to weight training timing. Too many of them forget that all it takes to MAXIMIZE productivity is to DO your cardio and weight training - timing is more of a personal thing. Dont forget that the key to any personal program is that it must fit to your needs!
When Time Is A Big Issue
Sometimes, an athlete cant make it out twice a day on some days to weight train once and do cardio once. But then what is there to do? Doing a cardio workout after a lifting session just seems redundant. However, for those of you desperate to stay lean in the off-season, cardio can be a big aid.
Remember the above paragraph, where I stated that while a cardio session may only take 30 minutes, the preparation and wrap up can make it take over an hour in some cases? Well, this still holds true. Combining a cardio session with a workout can be a very time-saving technique!
How To Make Sure Post-Workout Cardio Benefits You!
There are some rules to cardio that are more rigid than others. One rule is that cardio and weights do not always mix! If you just worked out for an hour and then jump right on the treadmill, which is good for you! You are a hard worker. But if you choose to do that, make sure your workout nutrition covers everything!
Doing intense exercise for long periods of time tends to really cut into recovery time and energy stores, especially when done on a consistent basis. Therefore, to maximize your progress while combining cardio and weights, I say get yourself a great during workout shake. It doesnt have to be anything expensive.
My ideal during workout shake would consist of 20 grams dextrose, 2-3 servings of BCAAs and some whey protein as well. The dextrose, BCAAs and whey will all work together to fuel you and also to maintain an anabolic state, limiting excessive breakdown of muscle tissue. You can go into the gym with a new confidence knowing that your efforts will continue moving you forward!
Separating Cardio & Weights
I believe taking time out of the day to have two workout sessions is the most beneficial way to do things for a few reasons. It creates an anabolic environment more frequently, you do not wear yourself out all at once, and it improves focus!
I am a big believer in using exercise as a way to create an anabolic environment where most nutrients are shuttled away into the muscles. If you do your cardio and weight lifting in the same time period, that is great as well for creating this state in the body.
This means separating them must be even better! The time to consume nutrients like carbs and protein is ideal until about 3 hours after an intense workout. Protein turnover in this time period is greatly amplified!
Now imagine creating that environment twice a day. Doing weight lifting once and a session of high intensity cardio later on can accomplish this, and you will find that it allows you to stay very lean, while maximizing muscle gain!
Separating cardio and weight training also stops you from using all of your energy at once. After a long time of strenuous activity, the body becomes very worn out. If you can break up that 2 hour training session into two one-hour sessions, you could prevent this from happening!
Finally, separating the two types of activity improves your FOCUS on that activity, and your MENTAL DRIVE to complete it. People tend to drag through marathon training sessions, but quick bursts of energy are much easier to generate! This is why I say separate your weight training and your cardio.
When deciding what time to fit these two workouts in, try to make them about 8 hours apart. Obviously separating them by one hour would not help too much!
Stomping Out A Myth - Post Workout Cardio
There are many myths surrounding cardiovascular training. Somehow, a lot of information about it became very misleading. Here are the true, un-biased facts about a topic that continues to be debated to this day- post workout cardio.
Doing cardio after a long weight training session without proper nutrition as outlined above will NOT cause more fat loss than doing cardio after weight training WITH proper workout nutrition. If you do a session of high intensity cardio, the metabolism boost will be equal. If you do low-intensity cardio, the amount of free fatty acids burned will be equal.
Choosing to do cardio after a long weight training session without proper nutrition will NOT cause extreme muscle loss. It might cause a tiny bit if tissue breakdown, but nothing significant.
You do not have to worry at all about any problems suggested in fact 1 or fact 2 if you follow a proper workout nutrition regimen. Here are mine:
This will maximize energy levels, prevent muscle tissue breakdown, and improve focus! These simple products will ensure that mixing cardio and weight training will not harm you in any way!
Pumping Iron Versus Pumping The Treadmill!
In many ways, hitting the weights has similar effects to hitting the treadmill. Media and pseudo scientists have led people to believe that a cardio session is the complete opposite of a weight lifting session.
Now, I am going to give them some credit, there are a few differences. But the main benefit that you should keep in mind that both have in common, is described below!
Be A Nutrient Sponge
Like I said before, I have always based my training and diet off of the fact that after any intense exercise, nutrient uptake to the muscles is greatly improved compared to nutrient uptake into the muscles while you are resting.
This has never failed me. It has a lot to do with the anabolic hormone levels that rise from training.
A good way to think of this effect that I keep bringing up is by comparing a sponge to a napkin. Lets say your muscle can either be a sponge, or a napkin, and the water is nutrients. While you are resting, your muscles are the napkin. The napkin does not readily accept water.
The sedentary muscle does not readily accept nutrients. After training, your muscles are the sponge. The sponge readily sucks up water and leaves none behind! The active muscle sucks up nutrients leaving minimal amounts to go to fat!
The nutrient that working out has the biggest effect on has been proven to be carbohydrates. If you bracket a training session, whether it is cardio or lifting, with carbohydrates you can be sure that absorption of the carbohydrates will be greatly improved!
So where am I going with all of this? I am saying that cardio can greatly benefit an athlete with any goals- even those of you who are desperately trying to put on muscle mass! In fact, it will speed up the process!
Improve Fitness - Benefits To Your Weight Training!
Cardio is also great for another reason. Extra cardiovascular activity has many benefits to recovery. First of all, by getting the blood flowing, muscles are repaired more quickly. This is done without causing any serious tissue breakdown though- cardio is one step forward, zero steps back!
Besides the immediate effect on recovery, cardio promotes long-term gains in total body fitness! This means you can train MORE and therefore promote MORE muscle gains! They say that less is more, but if you experience an increase in fitness then take advantage of it!
Still Don't Want To Do Cardio?
If you are STILL not convinced to do cardio, know that even Arnold Schwarzenegger was a believer in cardio year-round! Arnold asks,
All successful bodybuilders perform cardiovascular training even in the off-season to maintain a reasonable body-fat level and promote muscle gain!
Doing Cardio Through The Stomach Growls - Is It Necessary?
When it comes to cardio, it seems like most people like to think of it in very simple terms and try to figure out the body by using common sense. This is not science; it is what we call pseudo-science.
Dont get me wrong, the personal training industry is not out to hurt you! Being properly informed, though, would really make a difference to the effectiveness of their training philosophy.
Reasons To Perform Cardio In The Fasted State
For the most part, ANY training WORKS, and ANY training is superior to NO training. I guarantee that doing cardio first thing in the morning with no food in you will not have a huge negative impact on body composition.
Performing cardio through the stomach growls is a technique of many professional bodybuilders and has been for most of bodybuilding history. However, so is starting to train with a lower intensity and use wussy exercises.
The reason for this ultimately is that professional bodybuilders have muscle to spare! Cardio in the fasted state and high-rep weight training will tremendously add to fat loss, but makes you experience muscle loss as well.
Therefore, if you want to lose fat without worrying too much about muscle mass, and you wouldnt mind losing 5 to 10 pounds of lean mass through your cut that could possibly be preserved (which is perfectly understandable), feel free to do cardio in the morning without eating before-hand. You will start to feel much leaner!
Reasons NOT To Perform Cardio In The Fasted State
Cardio in the fasted state doesnt sound too bad right now, does it? Thats because it is not. However, unless you are a top professional bodybuilder such as Ronnie Coleman, every pound of muscle counts!
When you are dieting for that contest, you want to come in heavier than last year and with more quality, increasing your chances to dominate the opponents!
Another problem with losing muscle is that after losing just one pound of muscle, your RMR decreases by about 50 calories! That is 50 calories less that you must consume, or an extra 50 calories that will be floating around in the body if you forget to adjust your diet.
When dieting for a contest, nothing can get in your way, so look out for an extra 50 unnecessary calories! This problem can be prevented by doing cardio in between meals.
Cardio In The Fasted State... In The Non-Fasted State
There is one simple solution to morning cardio that will leave you hungry through the session, but still allow muscle mass to be preserved. I suggest consuming a BCAA product through your cardio.
Try making a solution of just 10-20 grams of high-quality Branched Chain Amino-Acids. This will prevent muscle loss because the amino acids will be targeted instead of muscle for breakdown, while the fat will continue to melt off! This gives you the best of both worlds!
A nice, cheap BCAA product is SciFit BCAA Powder 5000! You can get a one-thousand gram supply for just 50 dollars! That will last you for at least 2 months of AM cardio sessions, or more!
Maximum Intensity Cardio - My Favorite Form of Cardio!
Finding a form of cardio that YOU enjoy is key to a long and successful athletic career. I have found a form of cardio that is definitely for me. I do this whenever I have time for a cardio session.
Like all things, I have to limit it somewhat, but I feel that this form of cardio is a great way to relieve stress and get the blood flowing, and can be done a few times a week as well.
Simply put, my favorite form of cardio is sprinting. When I do a sprint session, I can really focus in and push the intensity as much as I can.
It is far superior to a low-intensity run in my eyes because when doing a low-intensity run it is difficult to maintain intensity, but during sprints, you just work at a maximum intensity for about 30 seconds.
I also feel that sprinting is the best form of running that one can do to create that nutrient sponge environment in the body and create more anabolism.
This is because a session of sprints elevates the metabolism and blood flow for a longer time period after the session than a regular cardio session! Sprinting isnt just more fun than jogging. It is also much more effective!
You Will Learn to Like It!
At first, the idea of doing all out sprints made me kind of nervous and I just didnt want to do it. I did not like the idea at all. But now, there is nothing I would rather do!
I guarantee that you will become a cardio addict from doing sprint sessions like this 2 to 3 times a week. After a few weeks of doing it and getting used to sprinting, your fitness will increase and the sessions will not be painful at all, and you will look forward to feeling the intensity of sprinting! There is no better feeling to me.
How To Sprint
The primary reason that I prefer maximum intensity cardio over all other forms of cardio is the feeling of speed! If you can really get into a sprint session, you will see how it can become addicting.
So how do you maximize speed? Well, over time, speed will improve on its own ever so slightly. But a way to see an immediate increase in speed is just to fix up your running form, if you have not already! Here are three points to keep in mind when running:
Keep Your Elbows In!: For others like myself with a large back musculature, this may not seem completely natural. However, it is possible and just doing this alone can take a bit of focus but you will blow right by your old speeds when you become more aerodynamic because of this!
Pump Those Arms!: Another thing that increases speed is getting momentum from your arms. I am not saying give your shoulders a workout swinging them all over. In fact, you should not bring your fists above shoulder level.
Pump Your Feet!: It is amazing how such a simple thing is so neglected when it comes to sprinting. To move faster, it takes a lot of mind power! Just think about putting one foot down after the other at maximum speed! This really does work. I set the best 40-yard dash times when I stay focused like this.
My Sprint Workout
My sprint workout is something that I have really cooked up all by myself, but I looked at other sprinting routines and took ideas from them of course. However, it is a little dissimilar to your every-day sprint session.
When I sprint, I like to try to find a balance between maximum intensity training and endurance training. I want to keep my time at a maximum sprint around 15 seconds.
This means I have to push hard to maximize speed, but also keep pumping my legs to maintain the speed for a little bit longer. Keeping this in mind, I make sure all of my sprints are over a 60 yard distance (approximately).
I do a total of 20 60-yard runs, and as active recovery I walk until I return to the start line.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that even though it may just seem like running, to sprint at full speed and not pull a muscle, you must warm up.
For this reason, I do not do all 20 sprints at maximum intensity. Only about 12 of my 60-yard runs are at complete intensity. The other 8 are devoted to warm-up and cool-down.
My warm-ups and cool-downs are similar to a pyramiding scheme you might see used in the gym. I start by just jogging 60 yards, then walking back to start.
Next, I run at about 1/2 speed and then walk back. My final 2 warm-up sprints are at around 3/4 intensity. The cool down is the exact reverse of this.
After the warm-up, I am mentally ready to sprint at my fullest! I take off from the start line and pump those legs and arms as hard as I can while maintaining proper running form.
I run at maximum intensity straight through the finish, take a few seconds to slow down, and then walk back from there. Then I repeat this twelve times. It helps me a lot to bring with me an mp3 player, so I can really feel the intensity of music that I love.
Here Is A Breakdown Of My Sprint Workout:
- 1 X 60 yard jog + walk back
- 1 X 60 yard 1/2 speed sprint + walk back
- 2 X 60 yard 3/4 speed sprint + walk backs
- 12 X 60 yard MAX intensity sprints + walk backs
- 2 X 60 yard 3/4 speed sprint + walk backs
- 1 X 60 yard 1/2 speed sprint + walk back
- 1 X 60 yard jog
Why You Should Sprint
Like I said above, when it comes to becoming a nutrient sponge, no form of running accomplishes that as effectively as sprinting. I believe that a serious sprint session really improves the mood because of the extreme intensity and is always a real rush for me. If you can take a liking to this form of cardio, after a while you will see a great improvement in body composition!
The Top Four Most Effective Cardio Variations!
A common question in the cardio world is about the most effective way to perform cardio. In my opinion, there is no certain answer to that question. There are many different forms of cardio, all of which produce different results.
My opinion on this is that the most useful form of cardio is one that you feel like doing! Like I said before, ANY cardio is good cardio. How can a cardio workout be good if you are not mentally in it at all?
Below, I will suggest FOUR types of cardio that are very effective for fat burning or muscle building with minimal fat gain! Now you can change it up and see what you like best, experiencing the results of all sorts of cardio!
Low Intensity Cardio
The most common form of cardio seems to be low intensity cardio. This is done by many people that you see jogging on the roadside for its benefits on blood pressure and overall well being.
Low intensity cardio such as a good 30-minute jog can also reduce soreness in the muscles and add to recovery because it gets reparative, nutrient-rich blood to the muscles faster!
The best way to do low-intensity cardio is to pick a simple exercise such as riding a bicycle, using the treadmill or preferably jogging outside! Picking an exercise that requires more coordination, such as jumping rope, might not be best because it would require too much concentration of you, and if you miss a jump then that means you lose your flow!
I suggest when you choose to do low-intensity cardio, dont worry too much about carbohydrate intake as this form of cardio is mostly fueled by Free Fatty Acids.
Perform this cardio for about 30 minutes to 45 minutes. You should work up a little sweat, but remain well hydrated throughout the session.
Medium Intensity Cardio
This cardio bridges the gap between low intensity cardio as I just mentioned, and the sprinting which I evangelized a bit earlier. The goal here is to perform an activity at a fast pace, working hard to maintain that level of effort, for a long period of time. It takes a lot of concentration on breathing and keeping the heart rate steady as you continually pump your muscles at a consistent pace.
When deciding what to do for medium-intensity cardio, I say pick an exercise you would use for low-intensity cardio, like jogging or the rowing machine.
However, instead of just going through the motions, choose a pace that will force you to concentrate for every second. Performing cardio this way is very difficult, but I believe it really builds condition in the body, and also character!
When you do medium-intensity cardio, try to maintain a hard pace for about 30 minutes. You should fuel your cardio with some carbohydrates, as well as amino acids and protein that you would use for low-intensity cardio.
You will probably work up a big sweat after about 5 or 10 minutes. If you are like me, take special care to apply deodorant and a high-grade anti perspirant! It is very important to stay hydrated because of the amount of sweating that can take place.
This is the same cardio that I suggested as my favorite form of cardio. It requires the same intensity as medium-intensity cardio, but less focus, so you can push harder without worry of failing.
The goal here is to get a quick workout in that will leave the metabolism elevated for a longer time period post-workout! In fact, interval cardio has been shown many times to burn MORE total calories than simply performing a low intensity cardio session of even TWICE the duration, because of metabolism elevation.
For me, there is no other way to do intense cardio except sprinting. It is much more natural than using the bicycle or the rowing machine at the gym.
Some people prefer the elliptical machine or any myriad of machines. No one is better than another here. Whatever you do, it is best to use active recovery in between sprints- instead of just standing still, try walking in place, or moving slowly on your exercise machine of choice.
When you perform your high-intensity cardio, try to keep in mind the ideas that I mentioned previously- push yourself to the limit for about 15 seconds, then take time to rest before repeating the sprint.
High-intensity cardio, because of its anaerobic nature, is fueled by primarily carbohydrates. Therefore, you should consume carbohydrates before and after interval cardio for maximum results!
Like everything else, consuming protein and amino acids is important as well for muscle recovery. Make sure to drink cold water in between sprints! Have it resting there for when you return to the starting line.
This is really just another form of high-intensity cardio that I felt deserved honorable mention. Iron cardio is not what it sounds like. It is nothing like a circuit workout with light weights. With Iron Cardio, you can greatly improve your explosive abilities and strength while still training the cardiovascular system.
For Iron Cardio, you must choose an exercise
I would tell you here, but chances are I could leave something out- it would be better to look up proper form on this website or on another internet website! It is similar to high-intensity interval cardio in that you perform at a high intensity level for a short time period, then recover and repeat several times.
Performing Iron Cardio takes focus as much as any other form of cardio, if not more so than others. I will use Iron Cardio with Hang Cleans as an example. Pick a weight that is difficult for you to clean, but nowhere close to your one-rep maximum.
If you expect your maximum hang clean to be two-hundred pounds, I would suggest using about 75% of that weight- 150 pounds. You will perform 12 to 15 working sets of three reps each, and in between sets you will rest for 15 to 25 seconds.
Because this too is a form of anaerobic activity, you must consume carbohydrates to fuel the session, as well as your customary protein and amino acids. Staying hydrated plays a large role here because to maximize strength, you must be well hydrated!
A Word On All Cardio Forms
All cardio form have different benefits. You can break up each form into different levels of metabolic effects. Lower intensity cardio causes less of a metabolic boost, while high intensity cardio will turn you into a temporary food processing center!
Choose which one you think you need. More importantly, choose which one you like best! I suggest that you use the guidelines I provided for any cardio form you choose, and as long as you follow the guidelines of it, you can do whatever form of cardio you would like!
I hope that from this article, you learned a few new things about cardio! I went into various aspects of timing your cardiovascular activity, including the optimal times for cardio, cardio in relation to weight lifting, and the notorious empty stomach cardio. On top of that, I suggested various forms of cardio and why they are beneficial, and how to work them into your training!
Although many bodybuilders overlook cardio, especially in the off-season, it is actually a very useful tool to speed up progress! They might want to spend time on other things, but now knowing the many benefits of a quick cardio session I am sure that you will see more people performing cardio!
Cardio really does have a huge list of benefits. Not just for a bodybuilder, but for everybody! Cardio is a great way to keep blood pressure down, and it is very heart-friendly.
For bodybuilders, though, cardio creates an anabolic environment in the body and has a positive effect on body composition! For the athlete, any type of cardio can be utilized to maximize performance. Dont forget, being a nutrient sponge is very important for bodybuilders!
Now, cardio will no longer be missing in everyones daily schedules. This healthy activity can be easily added into even the busiest schedule, no matter how loaded with appointments, work and lifting it is filled with. Once you put the extra time in to figure out how to fit in cardio, though, you will be glad you did!
3rd Place kill_yourself
Cardio has many uses. It can help you to loss fat, gain stamina, or even rehabilitate from an injury. But since this is a bodybuilding website, lets refer cardio in this case as a form of losing that unwanted piece of flap on the side.
Now to burn fat, it can only be achieved when your body decides to burn your fat content within your body instead of your carbohydrate contents. It is only then where your body will start to loss that insightful looking fat.
Timing Of Cardio
Many people have very strong and reversed view on how and when to do your cardio to loss fat. Some say that you should do it first time in the morning and some swear that doing it after a workout is the best way. Well the true is, they will both be right.
Doing cardio as stated above is to condition the body into burning up fat instead of carbohydrate for its source of energy.
Doing Cardio First Thing In The Morning Before Your Meal
Carbohydrates are less prominent after your evening sleep (the last carbohydrate intake was hours before), thus one perfect time for cardio is immediately upon awakening, prior to your first meal.
Since carbohydrate storage is relatively low after sleep, your body uses a greater percentage of fat to fuel your cardio session. Whereas performing cardio shortly after a carbohydrate meal encourages the body to use the freshly ingested carbohydrates in greater proportions, allowing for a less productive cardio session.
If you are going to do your cardio session upon awakening, please do not engage in your weight training sessions following that. It is not only detrimental to your abilities with the iron, it will also cause you to loss motivation as you are exhausted.
Cardio After Workout
For 90% of bodybuilders, we eat a form of pre-workout meal prior to our intense weight training. It would usually consist of a reasonable amount of both protein and carbohydrate to fuel your body for both your much needed strength and endurance.
Thus if you were to do cardio after your workout, your body will have no choice but to force the burning of the fat for its source of energy. That is because that is absolutely no more nutrients left in your body to be used, as you have already spent a good 99% of it on your weight training.
If you are deciding to use this method, do not take any breaks after your workouts. You could maybe take a 5 min water break, but nothing longer than that. The idea is to strike the body while it is weak so that you can burn that fat.
The Initial Change
As storage of fat is the bodys natural way of stocking up in case you ever go hungry, it will not use fat as its main source of energy source. If it did we would are be slim shadys.
So since the body is not accustomed to regular does of cardio activity, it hesitates to use the fat (too valuable) during such activity. At this early stage, it will mainly turn to carbohydrate as the energy source, just like it does in all situations.
But after several weeks of consistent cardio activity, the body will slowly begin to use a greater percentage of fat as an energy source. Wait it get better!
You have reached that stage; your body will use fat more and more often. So a simply act such as walking to the bookstore to get something, fat will be burned at a much higher percentage compared to your friends.
Can Someone Add Cardio To Their Weight Training And Still Gain Size And Muscle Mass?
Yes of course! It will not burn away your muscle. Just think of it in this way; if it did, you will not be able to see a muscular sprinter or a wrestler.
They do tons of cardio and yet they are keeping the mass and muscle onto their body. As long as you consume a diet that has a caloric value high enough to support your activities, you are fine.
It is only when you start starving yourself, will your body start to burn fat as a source of energy. Just bear in mind something, if you treat your body well, it will treat you well.
If you for some reason decide to starve your body it will find ways to burn of your hard earned muscle for survival.
Is It Better To Do Cardio After Eating, Or On An Empty Stomach? Why?
Empty is not always the best way to treat your body. Just be sure that it is not 100% empty. When referring to empty I am referring to s scenario where the day before you fasted for the whole day and the next morning you decided to get up in the morning and go for a run.
In that case, your body will shut down and it could be potentially lethal if you are not careful. Just make sure you are not hungry. If you are it is essential that you gulp down something; a fruit, a juice or anything similar.
Usually if you had a proper meal the night before and had proper hydration the night before, there are no problems with going out for a run in the morning before eating anything.
Because of your lower metabolic rate while you are sleeping, your body will still have some leftovers from the meal the night before.
And as for cardio after weight training, your body will still have some left overs from your pre-workout meal, so you are not 100% on an empty stomach.
As long as you are not hungry, it is fine.
The intensity and timing of your cardio must also be kept in check.
To maximize your cardio benefits, you will have to target your heart rate to beat at 70-80% of your maximum heart rate.
Formula: 220 - Your Age = Max Heart Rate
The above formula is only an estimate of where should you aim for. As each individual may vary depending on physical conditioning and natural hear rhythm.
It is suggested that you use the formula to determine your initial target heart rate, and when engaging in cardio, if you feel as if you are not putting in effort enough, or if your feel that your heart is racing too quickly, a slight modification may be necessary.
If you do not begin to sweat within 5-10 min after engaging in cardio activity, the increase your target heart rate by 10. Keep adding 10 if you still do not sweat 5-10 minutes after your modifications have been done.
The same would apply if you feel overwhelmed by the target heart rate, reduce 10. As long as you are not overwhelmingly exhausted within 5-10 minutes and you are sweating within 5-10 minutes, you are fine.
Your time frame of your cardio activity should also be kept within 35-40 minutes. Anytime after that your body will be too tired to continue since you did not have a meal beforehand.
If you force your body to continue beyond this period, your body will suffer and so will your intensity of your cardio. Aim to do your cardio 3-5 times a week on your days that you workout.
Please, dont on any circumstance do your cardio on those non weight training days. A non weight training day is to allow your body to have enough time to recover.
So if you were to surprise it with cardio, you run the risk of compromising you weight training and also overtraining which we all know is a pain in the neck when it happens.
Eating After Cardio?
Some people feel that eating after cardio is a big NO. Because they feel that it will only overwrite the hard work they have put in during the cardio activity.
If you are one of those that think like that, drop the idea instantly. That is a very misunderstood concept. In fact if you continue to starve yourself after your cardio, you body will have the higher tendency to store fat because in times like this where you stop eating after cardio activities, the body still has the fat to turn to. You have to eat.
I am not talking about taking out 2 bags of nachos and start munching away. I am referring to good clean food.
Example; rice, bread, protein shake, chicken, fish etc.
What Is Your Favorite Type Of Cardio?
My favorite would have to be what I call the good old slow burn I am not the type of person who would use the HIT method and sweat my guts out for compromised results on my fat burning goals. The best way to do your cardio is to do it at a medium pace and for a period of 40 minutes. Thats my way.
BONUS QUESTION: What Is The Most Effective Cardio Exercise? Why?
I am just a hardcore fan of the Stairmaster. I just cant seem to get bored of it. It not only provides me with the needed cardio that I want, it also helps me build up those massive quadriceps that everyone just adores. And the stair master is somehow not as straining on my knees and ankles as compared to the treadmill.
3rd Place (tie) live4this13
The Who, What, When, & Whys Of Cardiovascular Activities
With all the information available today it is easy for someone to find themselves wondering what is best for them. I will explain what I feel is the best way to perform cardiovascular actives in order to meet your goals.
WHO Should Do Cardio?
Who should be doing cardio? Should I? Maybe you need to lose a few more pounds or maybe you are just trying to bulk up for summer, either way you should perform at least some type of cardio.
Cardio does more then help you lose weight. Cardio increases heart rate in most cases giving you more energy and gets you going through the day. Cardiovascular activities can keep your body healthy and fighting diseases.
It also allows you to reduce cholesterol levels that could potentially lead to artery blockage or strokes and heart attacks.
Ok, so you understand how it affects your health but how does it relate to you from a bodybuilding standpoint?
When cutting cardiovascular activities increase your metabolism allowing you to burn more calories, therefore cutting more fat. More calories out means more fat lost. Cardio also gives you more energy allowing you to feel better even when on a reduced calorie diet.
On a bulking diet do you often find yourself struggling to eat a higher number of calories needed to make the gains you are going for? Well cardiovascular activities metabolic boosting effects can help you eat more calories in order to reach your goals. Cardio also allows you to limit body fat gains when following an increased calorie diet.
WHAT Type Of Cardio Is Best?
There are some many different types of cardio that you can pretty much find any activities you like. Whether you like to go play in a pick up basketball game at the YMCA, go to the park and throw some football, or take the dog for a walk around the park, you are still getting the benefits of increased activity.
However if you are looking to shed some fat and kick that metabolism into the next gear you may need to pick up the intensity. Below I have outlined some of the more well-known cardio activities.
Low Intensity Cardio
Low intensity cardio can help get you out of bed in the mornings and increase your metabolism for the day. The ideal time to perform low intensity cardio is first thing in the morning when you first wake up in order to get up and moving.
Low intensity cardio could be considered a walk around the block, easy ride on a bike, walking on the Stairmaster etc. It should last around 25-40 minutes and just be enough to get stretched out and break a slight sweat.
High Intensity Interval Training
HIIT is the top dog as far as getting your heart rate up and burning fat. HIIT is best performed after a light meal and warm up. Due to the amount of calories burned it is important to have a protein based meal before hand and your standard post workout meal (carbs/protein) after.
I would suggest avoiding HIIT cardio on an empty stomach in order to preserve muscle. HIIT is interval based sprinting/walking for a period or interval of time. I would suggest a 30 sec sprint / 30 sec walk for 15 minutes. It is also necessary to perform a 5 minute warm up and cool down.
Sprints can help an individual increase there aerobic threshold and increase physical endurance. Sprints use short boost of energy expanded over a length that varies.
Due to the high level of energy needed you should eat a balanced meal before and your normal post work meal after. Sprint training can help someone burn calories, boost metabolism, and increase overall physical endurance.
A Sample Sprint Routine Could Be
- 5 minute warm up
- 5 minute cool down.
WHEN to do cardio?
The timing of cardio depends on the type of the activity. If you are just going to walk to dog about any time will do. However for more intense cardio you should place it away from workouts and by balanced meals.
I believe cardio should be done away from workouts in order to recovery from it and still allow you to get the best gains from your workout. You need to have meals around your cardio sessions in order to replenish your body.
When you perform cardio your blood glucose levels are lowered. You need to have a moderate-high carbohydrates and protein meal to repair muscles and restore blood levels.
Can I Perform Cardio Before My Workout?
Yes you can but it should be low intensity lasting no longer then 10-15 minutes designed as a warm up only.
Can I Do Cardio After My Workout?
Yes you can but I do not recommend it. If you are going to I suggest at least a twenty minute break in-between in which you need to take in a meal including protein and carbohydrates. It is not optimal however because your bodies glucose levels are low from the workout and your body will use protein from your muscles to fuel the cardio.
Should I Perform My Cardio On An Empty Stomach?
I do not recommend it unless it is a very low intensity. No matter what intensity it is you risk losing muscle as you have no fuel to use in your workout. I suggest at least a protein shake before all activities as for high intensity you need a protein/carbohydrate meal before.
Should I Perform Cardio On My Off Days?
Cardio on off days is ideal as it allows you to focus solely on the cardio. Cardio on off days allows you to go all out and really boost your metabolism helping shed fat and increase your metabolism. Cardio on off days also is great for someone who is bulking because it helps keep body fat low and boosts your metabolism making it easier to take in large amounts of calories.
WHY Do Cardio?
Simple heart disease is the number two killer in women and the number one killer in men. One in five men die of heart diseases before age 75. Cardiovascular activities reduce risk of heart diseases.
Cardio also allows you to safely lose weight or boost your metabolism to help pack on that muscle. Not only will it help you reach your goals, it will increase your overall physical and mental health.
Can I Perform Cardio And Still Pack On Mass?
Yes and you should. Cardio helps boost your metabolism and actually help pack on muscle. It also helps prevents you adding fat while on a bulk. Make sure you are eating enough to fuel your workouts as it could be devastating to your gains if you do not eat enough.
Bonus Question: What Is The Best Type Of Cardio? What Kind Of Cardio Do You Do?
The best cardio is anything you can do consistently. You cant expect to lose weight doing 1 light session a week. You need to stay involved. Do what you enjoy doing and enjoy the success you receive.
Stay strong meeting your goals takes time but with cardio you can reach these goals quicker while extending your life span. Remember you only have one heart, take care of it, and perform cardio.
What Kind Of Cardio Do I Perform?
I enjoy HIIT cardio or sprints. I tend to mix in both for a variation. I dont like to waste all day on a bike or stair climber I want to get out and get my heart pumping, blood flowing and a good sweat going. It also helps me stay in shape for sports.
Good luck meeting your goals.
3rd Place (tie) mivi320
Some say do cardio on an empty stomach. Others say be sure to eat before any type of cardio. Then there are those folks who say cardio is best after weightlifting. What's the real deal on cardio and when to do it?
Cardio & You
Cardiovascular activity increases heart rate, and keeps it elevated for hours. Cardio also elevates stamina and endurance levels, and fights off potential heart disease.
Cardiovascular activity can be running in the park, throwing the ball around with the guys, cycling, or even walking. It doesn't matter what type of activity is done, as long as you get moving! Now it's time to take an in depth look at when cardio is most beneficial.
Cardio Before Weightlifting
The type of cardio that should be done before weightlifting is a warm-up. Whether it is a 5 minute warm-up on the recumbent bike or jumping rope for a few minutes.
The main objective here is to get the blood flowing before diving into some heavy lifting. A brief cardio warm-up before weightlifting will increase blood flow and prevent the risk of injury.
Cardio After Weightlifting
Glycogen stores are close to depleted after a brutal weightlifting session. Glycogen is the body's chief source of energy. Therefore, by performing cardio after working out, when glycogen is on the verge of being depleted, the body will begin drawing energy from elsewhere: fat stores.
However, when glycogen is depleted, the body will not always turn to fat stores for energy. Lean body mass (AKA hard earned muscle) is also at stake.
Cardio On An Empty Stomach
Some folks swear by doing cardio in the early hours of the A.M. on an empty stomach. Others say that eating before exercising is more beneficial. Truth is, it's always best to eat prior to any type of exercise.
Think about it for a second. The body is like a car. It cannot operate properly if there is no gas present. The body cannot operate correctly if there is no food present. Would you crank out reps of heavy barbell squats on an empty stomach? Didn't think so.
Intense cardio and working out on an empty stomach is a big no-no. However, a light walk in the A.M. on an empty stomach can be a great idea. But here's the thing. Be sure to drink a protein shake or eat a protein based meal prior to low intensity A.M. cardio to preserve muscle mass.
Do not perform low intensity cardio in the A.M. for no longer than 45 minutes, unless you want to risk losing some hard earned muscle tissue.
Cardio On Non-Lifting Days
Performing cardio on non-lifting days are great. On weightlifting days, the individual can focus all of his/her attention to lifting. On non-lifting days, the individual can focus all of his/her attention to having a great cardio session.
Cardio on non-lifting days is great for those trying to add some serious muscle mass too. Why is that? Well, in order to get big, one must eat big. On off days where no lifting occurs, it can be extremely difficult for the individual to get in an ample amount of calories to encourage growth.
Add some cardio on non-lifting days into the mix, and metabolism increases. A faster metabolism translates into great hunger. More hunger translates into more food, and more food means more growth. See what I mean?
Although cardio on non-lifting days is excellent, performing cardio repetitively on non-lifting days can be harmful by leading to overtraining. Be sure to give your body a complete "off day," where no form of exercise is performed. This will fight against overtraining, and allow you to make great progress!
The Verdict On When To Do Cardio
Each time frame mentioned above of when to do cardio have their advantages and disadvantages. It all comes down to what the individual prefers and responds best to. Some folks may prefer doing cardio in the A.M. when the sun is just rising and the birds are chirping.
Others may prefer doing cardio after a weightlifting session instead of going back to the gym to do cardio on the treadmill on non-lifting days. Each and every one of us knows that time of day when we feel the most energetic.
Make an effort to schedule your cardiovascular workout for when you feel the most energetic. This will enable you to have great cardiovascular workouts, and reach your fitness goals at a quicker and faster rate!
Can Someone Add Cardio To Their Weight Training & Still Gain Size & Muscle Mass?
Yes. Cardio is a must and should not be neglected. After all, cardio works the most important muscle in the body: the heart. For those trying to gain muscle mass and size, cardio can easily be done 2-3 times a week.
To compensate for the large number of calories that will be burnt during cardiovascular activity, be sure to eat more than usual to allow muscle growth to occur.
Not eating a sufficient amount of calories and doing cardio is not advisable for those trying to pack on mass. Finding the balance is key. A sound weightlifting and nutrition program coupled with cardio performed 2-3 times a week will allow for some big time gains in both the size and strength departments!
What Is Your Favorite Type Of cardio?
My favorite type of cardio is HIIT, hands down. I'm the type of guy always looking for action and a physical demand. Low intensity cardio just doesn't cut it for me. Sitting on some piece of cardio equipment for 30 minutes isn't my idea of a physical challenge. HIIT is.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is an anaerobic training program that is geared specifically toward bodybuilders and athletes. The idea of HIIT is pretty simple: Rotating intervals of training at a very high intensity with a lower intensity bout.
The main reason why HIIT is my favorite type of cardio is because out of all cardio methods, HIIT retains my hard earned muscle mass that I've worked hard for day in and day out at the gym.
Another reason I prefer HIIT is because it is so easy to fit into my schedule. HIIT only takes 15-20 minutes for me to complete, which is much better than spending 30+ minutes on some big and bulky piece of cardio equipment.
What is the most effective cardio exercise? Why?
The most effective cardio exercise is one that you will stay consistent with. Doing cardio for one day will not yield results. Rome wasn't built in a day. Consistency is key.
Perform a type of cardio that you enjoy doing. That way, it's much easier to stick with it. Basketball, tennis, volleyball, walking, running, playing catch, swimming, and biking are all great forms of cardio that are enjoyable. Find out which cardio exercise you enjoy the most, and be sure to stick with it!
Best of luck with all of your goals,
3rd Place (tie) ShannonC_77
The best time and type of cardio you should do to produce optimal results is largely dependant upon your goals and what type of athlete you are. Different forms of cardio work different energy systems in the body, therefore you will want to do the type that is most compatible for what you wish to train for. Individual preferences will also come into play in determining what will work the best for you.
When Should You Do Cardio?
One of the biggest factors that determines when is the best time to do cardio is simply when you most enjoy it.
If you chose to do cardio at a time when you hate it, for example if you are not a morning person and try and force yourself up at 5 AM to perform cardio, you have a much greater chance of just hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock and foregoing it all together.
While doing cardio at certain times during the day may have more beneficial effects, if you simply dont do it, not only will you not get these rewards but you will be worse off than if you would have just done it when you would have liked in the first place.
Preference aside, cardio first thing in the morning appears to be the best. There are a few reasons for this. The first reason is that if it is the first thing scheduled in your day, nothing else will creep up and cancel it out.
It will be done and then you can put it off your mind and go about your day. Secondly, since you are performing it at the same time regularly, there is a much great chance that it will become a habit and you will stick to it.
Physiologically, cardio will speed your metabolism up (how much varies with the type of cardio training), so by doing it in the morning your metabolism will be more revved for the better part of the day. This will help to aid in fat loss as well as help you to feel more alert throughout the morning and afternoon.
Scheduling Cardio & Weight Training
For optimal results, it is best to do cardio in a separate session from your weight lifting. The reasoning behind this is because this will allow you to devote all your energy to one type of training therefore allowing more gains.
Also, when you are strength training, you are creating small micro tears in the muscle fibers, which then immediately start to repair and rebuild themselves after the session (hopefully sped up with the correct post workout nutrition).
If you perform cardio right after lifting, you might not see the recovery process take place as quickly than if you had waited to do your cardio 6-8 hours later.
By giving your body a few hours in between, you will be able to replace lost muscle glycogen used during your lifting session and ensure you can perform to the best of your capabilities during the cardio session as well.
Also, as an added benefit, since both resistance training and cardio training increase the metabolism, you will be able to experience this increase twice in one day instead of only once.
This will keep your metabolism stroked for a longer period of time, helping you to become a fat burning machine!
What Type Of Cardio Should You Do?
The type of cardio you do, as stated before depends on your goals. If you are looking to increase your endurance capabilities, than you will want to perform a longer session at about 60-75% of your VO2 max (where your body is absorbing the maximum amount of oxygen it can), for about 30-60 minutes.
If you are looking to increase your speed or power, an interval or HIIT type of program will be the best for you. For this protocol, you would perform at an almost all out intensity for about one minute followed by a rest or reduced intensity period for 2-3 minutes (the higher the work interval, the longer the rest period), repeated between 5 and 10 times. This will help to increase your bodies capability to buffer lactic acid byproducts.
Finally, if you are looking to increase your VO2 max, you will want to do an interval type program that is slightly different from the one above where you will run at a your anaerobic threshold (just below your VO2 max) for as long as you can (usually 2-5 minutes) followed by a short rest period so you can recover before doing it again.
Should You Do Cardio If You Are Trying To Build Muscle?
Most definitely! Cardio is not only important for fat loss but for also keeping your heart in shape. What good is developing a big muscular body if you cant even walk up a flight of stairs?
Aside from the heart benefits cardio has to offer, it will also help increase the rate of blood flow, thus transporting nutrients more quickly to your growing muscles. It will also remove byproducts and toxins from your muscle tissue, and help you stay leaner while packing on quality mass.
The protocol for your cardio will be slightly different however. You will want to only perform it for 20 minutes or so, 2-3 times a week, with interval training (HIIT) being your best option.
This type of training will actually help you put on muscle mass since it uses energy systems and muscle recruitment strategies similar to that of weight lifting (think of a sprinter compared to a marathon runner the sprinter carries a large amount of muscle mass like a bodybuilder, whereas a marathoner is very thin with stringy looking muscles), as well as increasing your testosterone levels needed for muscle growth.
Since you are trying to add muscle, one thing you will have to be sure of is to increase your calories on the days you do cardio in order to replace the amount you are burning off (thus staying within your designated calorie surplus needed to gain weight).
Empty Stomach Cardio?
Whether or not you should do cardio on an empty stomach, like everything else depends on your goals and mode of cardio. Performing a moderate intensity steady state cardio session on an empty stomach would be alright and would facilitate fat loss as your body will dip into burning its fat stores faster than if you had eaten a meal containing carbohydrates beforehand.
Interval or HIIT training however should not be done on an empty stomach. This type of training is very intense and your body is going to primarily rely on carbohydrates for fuel (as it is using the ATP alactic and ATP lactic systems).
If you dont have any carbohydrates in your body prior to performing this workout, you will find that you will hit the wall very quickly and your workout will come to an end fast.
Also, these types of workouts tend to be anabolic in nature so giving your body some building blocks to which to build from will facilitate this process.
If you are trying to gain muscle while doing cardio, than empty stomach cardio is definitely not for you.
You need to stay in an anabolic state for as much of the day as you can when you are building muscle. Cardio done on an empty stomach will send you into a catabolism state, meaning your muscle tissue will be broken down rather than being built up.
Favorite Type of Cardio
My personal favorite type of cardio is high intensity interval training (HIIT). I prefer this type as it gives you a great feeling once you have completed it.
You can feel the blood pumping through you muscles and how hard your heart is working. Its amazing to see how hard you can push your body while performing it, trying to take yourself to the next level every session.
Also, I find that this type of cardio gives me a great deal of energy throughout the rest of the day whereas performing long steady state cardio (typically endurance runs for me) leave me feeling drained and worn out.
What Is The Most Effective Cardio Exercise
Personally, I feel that running is the most effective cardio exercise. It uses your entire body and since you are not working against resistance you can push your heart and lungs to the max.
Also, for those who have less leg strength, you will probably be able to reach a higher performance output than if you were riding the bike for example, since you wont have to worry about your quad muscles dying out before your cardiovascular system does.
However, that said, the most effective form of cardio exercise for people in general is the one they enjoy the most. This is probably the most important thing with cardio, finding something you truly enjoy.
The minute cardio becomes a chore, your chances of sticking with it on a regular basis spiral downhill severely. If you wake up each day looking forward to the session, the results you get will be so much greater and you will enjoy the process in its entirety (not just enjoy the results you receive!).
So when adding cardio to your program, take into account your individual time preferences, what goals you wish to accomplish, what type of schedule you have (with work and other obligations), and what you truly enjoy doing. If you take into account all of these factors you will more than likely surpass your cardiovascular and fat loss goals!