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Muscle for life

How Much Cardio You Should Do (and How Much Is Too Much)

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How Much Cardio You Should Do (and How Much Is Too Much)

How much cardio does it take to get into great shape? And when does it start causing problems? Read on to find out.

 

Every time I go to the gym, I see the same crowd of overweight people grinding away in their spin classes and treadmill, StairMaster, and elliptical sessions.

Every day they’re there, sweating on the same machines–probably reserved and named by now–and they’re just as fat as they ever were. Some are even fatter than when they started.

After all this time do they really think anything is going to change or am I witnessing some twisted kind of Stockholm Syndrome between fleshy slaves and mechanical lords?

Jokes aside, the truth is these people are just following decades of bad exercise advice centered around long hours of cardio, which has produced millions of overtrained, overweight, underfit people addicted to burning calories instead of getting fit.

Now, you might be thinking I’m staunchly anti-cardio. I’m not. I do cardio regularly and as you’ll see, it has its benefits and uses.

When done properly, cardio can improve your health, help you lose fat faster, and even help you build muscle. But when done improperly, it can do the opposite: impair health, fail to help you lose weight, and negatively impact body composition.

So, in this article we’re going to break down how much cardio you should do, how to get the most bang for your (sweaty) buck, and how much cardio is too much and why.

Let’s start with how to determine if you should be doing cardio at all and if so, how much you should be doing.

How Much Cardio Should You Do and How Much Is Too Much?

Let’s start by answering this question simply:

You should do as much cardio as it takes to achieve your goals and no more, and it shouldn’t be so much that it significantly impairs your physical performance, recovery, or health.

If that sounds overly cautious to you, I understand. I make cardio sound like a medicine that you carefully dose to beat the disease without wrecking your body in the process.

That metaphor is more accurate than many people realize, though.

  • Research shows that endurance athletes are at a higher risk of heart dysfunction than the general, non-running public, and that the older they get and the more miles they log, the worse the problem gets.
  • Research shows that marathoners develop more arterial plaque than sedentary non-runners, which increases the risk of stroke and dementia.
  • The more cardio you do, the more you stress your body, and if take it too far, you can wind up in a state of chronic stress wherein your body can’t adequately recover from your workouts.
  • Hang around dyed-in-the-wool endurance athletes for a bit and you’ll quickly notice how many people have trouble with their knees, backs, hips, tendons, and bones.

While it’s a bit sensationalistic to say doing too much cardio can kill you, there’s some truth there.

The reality is if your goal is to look and feel good, more cardio–and exercise in general–is not always betterModerate amounts improve health but too much impairs it.

So, with that overture on the subject in place, let’s take a closer look at how your goals should dictate how cardio you do.

How Much Cardio Should You Do to Lose Weight?

The majority of people doing cardio are trying to lose weight. In fact, many think that you simply can’t lose weight without sacrificing sweat to the hamster wheels.

Unfortunately, research shows that just doing regular cardio guarantees little in the way of fat loss. In fact, many people wind up even fatter than when they began their cardio routines.

Well, I have good news for you: you can get–and stay–as lean as you want without ever doing more than an hour or two of cardio per week. 

In fact, if you want to achieve and maintain a low level of body fat while also preserving muscle, strength, and overall health, you can’t subject yourself to a torturous cardio routine. You must do less than you probably think necessary.

A personal case in point:

I’m around 7% body fat and I got here doing about 1.5 hours of cardio per week (in addition to my weightlifting of course), and I maintain this look more or less year round doing 45 to 60 minutes of cardio per week.

And the truth is I could drop the cardio from my maintenance routine if I wanted, but I’ve come to enjoy it. It’s relaxing.

You see, there are several problems with trying to lose weight using cardio as your only form of exercise.

It’s too easy to eat the calories you burn.

You have to work hard to burn a few hundred calories doing cardio, but you can eat them all back (and more) without even realizing it. A couple handful of nuts and a piece of fruit is all it takes.

The point here isn’t that the energy you burn doing cardio doesn’t support your weight loss efforts, but if you’re not also correctly regulating your food intake, you’re probably not going to reach your weight loss goals.

Your body adapts to the exercise to reduce caloric expenditure.

This is particularly sneaky and troublesome because while many people failing to lose weight can deduce or at least suspect they’re overeating, they’re completely unaware of this adaptive element of exercise.

The problem is simple: the more you do a certain type of activity, the more your body adapts to increase efficiency, and the more this occurs, the less energy is needed to continue doing it.

The net effect is people often think they’re burning more calories doing cardio than they actually are, eat more than they should to maintain an adequate calorie deficit, and then wonder if their metabolisms are just busted or if calorie counting simply doesn’t work.

Unwilling to give up, many then try to fight fire with fire by doing even more cardio, which does increase overall caloric expenditure but also brings the various health risks discussed earlier into play.

Cardio doesn’t preserve muscle, which is just as important as losing fat.

We instinctively say we want to lose weight, but what we really want to do is lose fat.

This distinction is important because losing weight includes losing muscle, which is to be expected when you combine a calorie deficit with cardio alone, and which is the road to a “skinny fat” physique.

The key here is the inclusion of resistance training in your weight loss regimen, which ensures that you lose maximal amounts of fat and minimal amounts of muscle.

So, as you can see, cardio is a double-edged sword of diminishing returns. A little bit of the right stuff can help you lose weight without compromising your health, but only if combined with a proper diet as well.

What, then, is the “right stuff” when it comes to cardio and weight loss?

Well, I’ve already mentioned that I do no more than a couple hours of cardio per week when dieting for fat loss, and I recommend the same for you, but there’s a bit more to my advice…

The Best Type of Cardio for Weight Loss

When it comes to losing fat, not all types of cardio are created equal.

The type of cardio you see most people doing is called low-intensity steady-state cardio, or LISS, and it  involves longer periods of low-intensity activity like walking, jogging, or biking.

LISS can help you lose fat but, as noted above, is very easy to out-eat and burns less and less energy over time. The reality is it’s just not a great way to spend your time if fat loss is your primary goal.

There’s another way to do your cardio, though, and it’s far more effective for losing fat. It’s called high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, and it involves alternating periods of high-intensity, all-out exertions and low-intensity “rest” periods.

Yes, HIIT is harder than LISS, but it’s also far more rewarding.

Studies such as those conducted by scientists at Laval UniversityEast Tennessee State UniversityBaylor College of Medicine, and the University of New South Wales have conclusively proven that shorter sessions of high-intensity cardio result in greater fat loss over time than longer, low-intensity sessions.

In fact, a study conducted by researchers at The University of Western Ontario showed that doing just 4 – 6 30-second sprints burns more fat over time than 60 minutes of incline treadmill walking. Yes, you read that correctly.

Research also shows that high-intensity interval cardio is particularly good for getting rid of stubborn abdominal fat, including the dangerous accumulations of visceral fat.

Although the exact mechanisms of how high-intensity cardio trumps steady-state cardio aren’t fully understood yet, scientists have isolated quite a few of the factors:

  • Increased resting metabolic rate for upwards of 24 hours after exercise.
  • Improved insulin sensitivity in the muscles.
  • Higher levels of fat oxidation in the muscles.
  • Significant spikes in growth hormone levels (which aid in fat loss) and catecholamine levels (chemicals your body produces to directly induce fat mobilization).
  • Post-exercise appetite suppression.
  • And more…

And as if all that wasn’t enough, keeping your cardio sessions shorter means you better preserve your muscle and strength, which is ideal for optimizing body composition.

Most fitness experts in the know don’t argue HIIT’s superiority in terms of fat loss but warn that it places a lot of strain on the nervous system and is likely to lead to overtraining.

Well, I’ve yet to find convincing evidence of this in the literature and have yet to run into that problem with my own body or the thousands of people I’ve worked with.

This is probably because I recommend a very moderate amount of high-intensity interval cardio–no more than 4 sessions per week, and no more than 25 to 30 minutes per session–and because the level of intensity found in studies used to support the overtraining hypotheses I’ve seen is quite a bit higher than the average person is even capable of (trained endurance athletes pushing themselves as hard as they possibly can).

Given all the above, I think it’s just a no-brainer to choose high-intensity interval cardio over low-intensity steady state.

The bottom line is 3 to 4 25-to-30-minute sessions of high-intensity interval cardio per week is you need to get as lean as you want.

Does Cardio Get in the Way of Building Muscle?

Many bodybuilders and fitness folk shun cardio, first because they just dislike it, and second because they believe it has an almost mystical power to shrivel up muscle and sap strength.

While we now know that excessive cardio is unhealthy, it’s pretty obvious that it’s also not conducive to muscle growth (just look at any marathon runner). But what about moderate or light cardio? Do they also interfere with muscle growth?

The long story short is it can go both ways: cardio can both hurt and help the processes related to muscle growth, and I explain how in this article.

Should You Do Cardio or Weights First?

We’ve covered a lot of ground already but I wanted to address this final point before signing off, and I’ll keep it short and simple.

Lift weights first and then do your cardio.

Heavy weightlifting requires a lot of energy, both muscular and systemic, and if you do cardio first–especially high-intensity cardio–your lifts will suffer.

The Bottom Line

Medicine has known the value of regular exercise for thousands of years but only recently have we gained a better understanding of how much is enough and how much is too much.

If you do at least a few hours of resistance training per week (and you should–it confers certain benefits you can’t get from cardio), you should view cardio as supportive, not essential, and you should do enough to reach your goals but not more.

 

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  • Alex

    Hey Mike… How many interval sets would you suggest and at what intensities?.. Would a 30 second Sprint and 2 minute low intensity for 8 rounds sound about right?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah that’s a good place to start. My cardio is pretty good at this point and I do 30 seconds high and 45 seconds low. I will drop to 30 low soon.

      • Nathan Hanak

        So if you’re trying to up the “intensity” of your HIIT, the way to go is to drop your resting time and never increase the sprinting time? So for example, I do 10 rounds of 30 seconds sprinting, with a 60 second rest in between. I am getting pretty used to it, so was thinking going 35 seconds sprinting, 55 seconds resting.

        Also, how restful should the rest time be? When I first started doing HIIT, my rests would be complete stops, just walking. But then as time went on, I was able to keep a light jog through some of the rounds. So for example 30 sec sprint, 60 seconds light jog for the first 5 rounds. and then walk during my rest period for the last 5 rounds. Should I try to keep the jog during the rest, or should it be as restful as possible so the sprinting can be more intense? Sorry if that’s confusing.

        • Michael Matthews

          Good questions.

          I would say either way is fine–longer sprints or shorter rests. I prefer shorter rests because 30 seconds is enough to spike my heart rate (the whole point of HIIT) without frying my legs (I bike and don’t like burning my legs out because it messes with my lifting).

          Rest is determined by heart rate. I like to see mine come back to the 90-100 range, which takes about 30-40 seconds right now. My high-intensity range is 130-140. My resting is 40s.

          • Nathan Hanak

            I didn’t think of it as being based on heart rate, but that makes sense. Looks like I’ll have to get one of those damn Fitbits after all. Once yours drops to the 90-100 range, do you immediately take off again, or do you let it hang there for a short period before sprinting/biking again? Thanks Mike!

          • Michael Matthews

            Haha either that or a simple HR monitor watch works. Cheaper.

            I just hit it right away. 🙂

            YW!

    • Steve Crook

      I’d only make one caveat, it depends a bit on your overall fitness and age when you start doing it. I began from relatively average fitness (for a 58 year old) and took a couple of months of more general cardio gradually increasing the tempo until I’d got to HIIT.

      I do 5 intervals of 30 seconds and do low intensity until my heart rate has returned to below 130bpm. So it can be anywhere from around 40 seconds to 150 from first interval to last.

      Recently found a Paper (PDF) giving a modified equation for calculating max heart rate.

      • Michael Matthews

        Great comment Steve. I agree.

  • Daniel Parker

    Love the article, Mike! Quick question: I strength train about 4x a week on average. I also so jiu-jitsu about 3-4x. Wouldn’t this be sufficient cardio? I’m generally completely exhausted after BJJ.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      Yeah that’s plenty.

  • wes

    If you break up your lifting and cardio session as you advise in TLS/BLS, would the “lift first, then cardio” rule still apply? Or, given that there’s an ample recovery time in between the two sessions, would the order no longer matter? And many thanks for all your wonderful articles, Mike.

    • Michael Matthews

      Nope if you’re separating do however you want. Glad I can help!

  • Mike, what’s your take on interval bodyweight exercises as a form of HIIT vs. the traditional interval sprints etc.?

    • Michael Matthews

      You can do this but it can cut into your recovery if overdone. Some people do well with it and some don’t, it seems.

  • James Buckley

    Here’s another approach:

    (1) Keep active, maybe walk 30-60 minutes (or more if you really want) every day to aid recovery, relax, think, give the metabolism a slight boost.

    2) Do hard intervals for 10-to-20 minutes minutes once or twice per week.

    It works. My resting pulse is mid-50s. I’ve resolved the chronic muscle soreness I used to suffer with when I did more cardio.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup that’s a great approach. Currently I walk my dogs for 15 minutes per day and do 3 25-min HIIT sessions per week and I have no trouble staying at 7-8% while getting to eat plenty.

  • Debbye S. Sparks

    Hey Mike, quick question. When you track your food intake on apps like fitness pal, you’re suppose to weight your meats raw, right? But the nutritional value and amount of calories change a lot from 4oz raw chicken breast vs 2oz grilled chicken breast, I mean and sometimes I can’t even find the method of cooking (baked, for example) on the data base. Should I stick to the raw nutritional information of 4oz even though I only end up eating like 2ish oz ? Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah I weigh everything raw for consistency.

      Feeling hungry doesn’t mean anything good or bad is happening. The best way to deal with it is to size and space your meals out to fit your eating preferences and stick to the right types of foods (lower calorie but high-volume–I’m going to write about this soon).

  • Ollie B

    Hi Mike,

    Another great article!

    I have a question that I’ve been wondering about for a while now: How do you deal with muscle soreness when it comes to training legs and doing cardio, I find it very difficult to do cardio 3 to 4 times a week without it affecting my deadlifts and squats because something is always still sore or tight.

    Also It’s it still beneficial to do cardio after leg day when you legs are sore or will this affect muscular and cardiovascular development?

    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      It can be tough at first but your body will adapt. I also find that doing cardio on my deadlift and squat days reduces soreness. You can do it when sore, yes.

      This may help you too:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/the-definitive-guide-to-muscle-recovery-and-muscle-growth/

      • Ollie Bale

        Thanks for the response Mike really appreciate it!

        Im just wondering if you could elaborate on the training cardio when sore part.

        Do you know of any studies that show that doing cardio (such as running/cycling) after training legs (anywhere from a couple of hours after to a couple of days) doesn’t affect hypertrophy or is this based on your knowledge and experience from coaching over the years.

        Thanks again!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

          Good questions. It’s an area of scientific ambiguity but the anecdotal is worth something.

          Check this out:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/cardio-and-muscle-growth-friends-or-foes/

        • Allen

          I’ll definitely second Mike’s idea of doing low-intensity cardio to avoid soreness on leg day. The absolute worst thing you can do after working your legs is sit down for the rest of the day. I like to walk around the track for a bit or do some light housework after legs; it seems to decrease DOMS by a lot.

          • Michael Matthews

            Agreed.

  • Greg Lima

    Excellent article and great food for thought. I’m 62 years old, 11% body fat. I do NOT train to lose weight (6’1″ & 170 lbs) but want to lose fat (is 7% a realistic goal?). I train 6 days/week (1 day with a trainer) and currently do 2.5 hrs. of cardio/week (30 minutes/day)…think I’m going to be changing my routine. Thanks for the information Mike.

  • Pingback: SGL’s Friday Favorites #18 + Pull Hypertrophy Workout | Smart Girls Lift()

  • Brenda

    Hi Mike, Great article. I’m a 5’3″ woman that has lost 140 lbs with full body exercise and a little strength training. It took me 2 years to lose the weight and I still have about 20 more pounds to lose. A year ago I incorporated the Les Mills Body Pump class into my repertoire. I take the class at my gym. Fortunately,it has helped me tone up a lot. But, I’m trying to get to 18% body fat I’m at 27% right now. I just started a 3 day split heavy lifting routine this week. I also take a Tabata class twice a week. I miss the energy from the Body Pump class and I would lift heavy in that class. Would the hour long Body Pump be considered cardio or strength training or a combination? I’m wondering if I should remove it from my repertoire and just focus on heavy lifting and doing Tabata. The Tabata class is for an hour so it sounds like the class is too long. The class is set up with two 8 round Tabata routines and they also incorporate a segment of kickboxing. Everything is still based on the 8 rounds -20-30 seconds of work/ 10 seconds rest. I’m just trying to figure out if what I’m doing is all right or wrong because my focus is on losing body fat and becoming toned and lean. P.S. I just ordered your books through Amazon! I can’t wait to receive them!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Great job!

      I like what you’re doing.

      I’ve never done a BP class but from what I’ve heard it’s more cardio?

      Yeah 1 hour of tabata is a bit intense.

      It sounds like we just need to tweak your diet, really:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      LMK what you think. And thanks on the books!

      • Cara Stone

        Body Pump is cardio with weights (barbell & relatively light weights). Their theory is that low weight, high reps is the way to go.

  • Michael Tilley

    Hey Mike, nice article! I cycle to work (3 miles each way) 5 times a week which I guess would fall into the steady state category. Since I am already doing some cardio each day, do you think I should do less than the recommend HIIT frequency you advise? Last time I went on a cut, I was also cycling to work 5 times a week as well as doing weight training and HIIT several times a week but I lost a fair bit of muscle mass (in addition to fat) in the space of a month. I don’t want to be over-doing the cardio and impairing my recovery as a result this time! What do you think? Cheers. Mike.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      Yeah I would do less HIIT. I would probably start with 2 x per week and see if that’s enough to keep the fat loss going. It would be.

      Make sure you account for the activity in your meal planning too:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      • Michael Tilley

        Nice one, thanks!

        • Michael Matthews

          No prob 🙂

  • Reinmakr

    My buddy introduced me to your program. After 18 months of CrossFit (and substantial weight loss) I got injured skiing last season. Neck injury. I took 9 months off from working out. Got fat again. Carbs in excess, I’m sure. About 3 months ago, I started the program and I’ve seen HUGE gains in strength and muscle mass. That being said, I’ve not corrected the intake. Beer and bad food are my weakness. This article today speaks to me. I hate running, but feel like I need to be to lose fat. I need to change my diet first off, but… the high impact 20 minute sessions might be the golden ticket. I’ll give this a try for a few weeks and see where this leads. One question though. Hot Yoga. For or against it for fat loss?

    • Michael Matthews

      I’m sorry to hear about the troubles but that’s awesome you’re rolling and making gains!

      HIIT is great for losing fat but we need to make sure your diet is right:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      Yoga is totally fine. Burns some energy. Limbers you up. Feels good.

  • Mike Nelson

    Hi Mike. I have read your book and have started a workout program. However, I do more cardio then you recommend, 1 hour of walking, on days I don’t lift, with a 40 pound vest on an incline to keep my HR between 140 and 150. Then on days I do lift I do 1/2 hour of walking, after lifting, without the 40 pound vest on an incline to keep my HR between 140 and 150. I am doing this because I backpack long distances, 20+ miles/day for two weeks or more, and I believe that I need to train with more cardio to be ready for this type of demand. Do you think that I have an effective cardio plan? Thanks ~ Mike Nelson

  • Kayla Danielle

    question…i split my cardio and weight training. i have to lift in the evening at around 5 or 6 because thats when my schedule allows. however, i do have a treadmill and was wondering if it would be better to do my hiit in the morning and lift at night OR lift at night, followed by hiit?

    • Michael Matthews

      Totally up to you. IMO separating is best but if it would be more convenient to do your cardio after your lifting, you can do that.

  • Kacey

    Hi, I have been following your posts for about 2 months and have loved each one. Through following your simple yet effective advice I am getting in the best shape of my life . I find when I have a question about fitness I ask myself , “What would Mike say?” I just wanted to thank you for making this journey so incredible !

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Kacey! That’s great! Glad to hear you’re doing so well. 🙂

      • Kacey

        Mike, quick question. I’ve been playing with the idea of using BCAAs and fat burners to get to where I want to be. I am currently at 18-19 % body fat and want to reach 16. I’m 46, 5’7 and am at 146lbs. I have your book (coming) and follow pretty much all I read from your site. Just haven’t made up my mind about going to this extreme wih burners. I’ve lost 25 lbs since November and really want this last 10 or body fat % off. What do u suggest? Thanks for your help.
        Kacey

  • Henrique

    Mike, what do you know about active resting? Like doing your heavy lifting and doing your 2-3 minutes of resting doing some cardio (like running on the elliptical machine for instance)

    Henrique

    • Michael Matthews

      I wouldn’t. It’ll sap energy that you’ll want for your lifts.

  • C

    Hey Mike, this is totally off topic, but I’d really like your opinion. When I do dips, (even without added weight) I have clavicle pain. I’ve dropped weight down to body weight, and have been working on my form, but the problem persists. Any thoughts?

    Regards
    -C

    • houmanka

      Hi,
      Here my 2 cents 🙂
      It could be a referred pain. do you have any movement limitation for your shoulders? like overhead press? What about chest? Sometimes it could be caused by referred pain from your upper pec muscles too.

      • Michael Matthews

        Good comment. Thanks for sharing.

    • Michael Matthews

      Interesting. As the other commenter noted, it might be related to mobility. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/mobility-exercises/

  • houmanka

    Nice. Thanks mate.
    My program is based on BLS (4 times a week – early morning 45 to 60 min per session).
    Even I have been working out for about 2 years still I enjoy the BLS.
    I do 4 days a week lifting, Tuesdays afternoons I do indoor Rock Climbing for about 2 hours, Wed and Sat afternoon Dragon Boat (1 hour a session).
    And Sat mornings I do one session 45 min HIIT.

    Do I do too much?
    (Can we have more Podcasts and Monthly Challenges? 🙂 )

    • Michael Matthews

      Great on what you’re doing! I like it. That doesn’t sound like too much. Just gotta make sure you’re not undereating:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      Haha yessir podcasts gonna be back to weekly and what do you mean on the monthly challenges?

  • Faisal

    Hi Mike! Thanks for the great info. Is it possible to do a small amount of LISS in the mornings, at least 4 hours before any gym session, and just eat the calories burned off (even if it is a little food) while you continue building muscle? This is in addition to three sessions of HIIT.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey!

      Yeah that’s totally fine. I walk for about 15 minutes every day in addition to lifting (5 x per week) and HIIT (3 x per week).

  • Raza

    I’d like to do HIIT on a recumbent bike like you said, but I have 2 little kids and an hour long commute to and from work, so it’s hard to get to the gym on cardio days.

    Instead I do the following: 10 burpees, 10 split lunges, 10 mountain climbers, and 10 high knees. Rest for 1 minute and repeat 5 times. I’ll do it 3 times a week. I had to work my way up to that, but it feels good. I do it fasted with 10g BCAA’s.

    My 7 year old and 3.5 year old boys like to jump in and do burpees too (when they’re not trying to jump on my back!)

    • Raza

      By the way, I lift twice a week due to time constraints. I follow Jim Wendler’s Twice a Week training template and it does the trick for me. My progress is a bit slower, but it gives me plenty of time for recovery (and I’m not looking to enter any powerlifting competitions anyway).

      • Michael Matthews

        That’s great. Wendler’s system works.

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s cool. It works well, You can definitely keep it up.

      Another idea is picking up a recumbent bike and putting it in your garage.

  • Michael Matthews

    Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

    Oh and if you like what I have to say, you should sign up for my free weekly newsletter! You’ll get awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious “guilt-free” recipes, articles to keep you motivated, and much more!

    You can sign up here:

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  • Ian

    Mike,
    I agree on the HIIT cardio. My question is what should I do for home-based cardio and it’s in these super cold months!? The Midwest gets pretty intense these months and it drives me crazy when I can’t get out and move! I don’t go to a gym because I have a home gym (No treadmill or stationary bike though…it will be an investment when I get more space).
    Thanks and I always love your stuff, man!

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Ian,

      Hmmm look into some tabata routines that you can do inside with movements like burpees, pushups, air squats, etc. It works!

      Thanks brother!

  • Alex

    Hey Mike, greetings from Austria,
    I read your book “Bigger Leaner Stronger” and I’ve got a question about proper warming up before exercise: Would you recommend to do 10 minutes of moderate cardio (4-5mph) to get your cardiovascular system going or do you think this will affect my strength during the workout and that those 4 warmup sets you recommend are enough to proper warmup your cardiovascular system. (I’m used to 10 minutes of cardio before and thought I may not be proper warmed up if I just go to the squat rack for example)
    Thank you a lot

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Alex!

      10 minutes probably isn’t necessary but 5 minutes of light cardio to raise body temp could be worth it.

      Don’t need to warm up your heart. Just your muscles. 🙂

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  • Deirdre

    Hi Mike. I would appreciate your thoughts on the subject of “less is more” in terms of cardio. I currently weight train daily as well as do an hour of a mix of HIIT and steady state daily. Upon reviewing your website, I see that you recommend 3-4 days of 25 min HIIT sessions per week. How would I go about transitioning from doing 60 minutes of cardio daily to 25 minutes 3-4 times per week without gaining fat? I probably burn about 500 calories doing the hour of cardio and if I were to cut that down to 25-30 minutes that would only amount to around 250. Also I figure if I’m burning 500 calories daily from an hour of cardio, that would be 3,500 calories per week that I’m burning. If I were to do just 3-4 days of 25 minute cardio sessions, I’d only be burning around 1,000 calories so I cannot comprehend how this wouldn’t make me gain fat. Please clarify.

    I am in the process of building up my metabolic capacity as I have been I a calorie deficit with overexercising, particularly cardio, for too many years which really screwed up my metabolism. I was only eating around 1450 calories about 7 months ago and have worked my way up to 1950 currently. I only put on about 3 lbs since then. I’m trying to work my way up to 2,200 without gaining too much fat. I’m a 41 year old female around 108 lbs with 90.9 lbs LBM. I have gained some fat, not much, but I would like to get my body fat down to at least 15%. I think I’m about 18 right now, however, I do not think I have the metabolic capacity to cut as of yet. Do you think I should stay the course in reverse dieting until I work my way up to 2,200 calories? I just do not want to start to cut from this point and not be able to lose and thus further screw up my metabolic capacity. This concern coincides with the aforementioned question regarding how much cardio is enough for me. Your input is very much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Deirdre

    • Good question! You can reduce the cardio and just adjust your diet accordingly. Pretty simple. This will help:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      You may find this helpful too:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-speed-up-metabolism/

      (As you’ll see in the above article, I do recommend RDing until stable at TDEE. It takes time but really pays off in the long run…)

      • Deirdre

        Thanks for the input Mike! Yeah, I put myself in a really bad place metabolically. I am currently taking in around 2,020 calories and am watching my body comp and scale weight like a hawk. I am working with a nutritionist who has me increasing calories slowly depending on body comp stats week by week. I do not know if you know much about how to adjust how you should proceed with your calories based on body comp stats, but, for example, this week my LM went down slightly while my fat stayed the same. She told me to increase calories slightly this week. As far as I understand, when LM decreases, that is a signal that you are underfueling your body for the amount of energy you are expending. Is that correct, do you know? I had metabolic testing done back in August 2012 which showed that my PREE was 1239 and my actual was 1436. I just got another one done to see how my metabolism has improved and it showed PREE was 1246 and actual was 1787. So as you can see, my metabolism has greatly improved but is still not 100% yet. I was actually eating around 1800 calories, weight was relatively stable with a few fluctuations here and there but I am still way under my TDEE. They are predicting based on my activity, age, height, etc. that I should be able to take in between 2,200 and 2,400 daily and maintain. This whole process is wacky but truly unbelievable. I only gained about 3 pounds from August up until now and that’s with an increase of about 500 calories! My BF has gone up slightly but I am still around 18% but I was 15% which is where I want to get back down to. However, metabolically I am not stable as of yet to cut. I have to just suck it up until I get to the point where I am metabolically stable and then plan to cut. I am just hoping that I do not gain much more BF than where I am right now. The crazy thing is that if I am eating in a deficit from my TDEE I should be losing weight at this point and I am not, another sign that my metabolism is still not right.

        What are your thoughts on this post? Do you think I should stay the course and work my way up to my TDEE? I’m thinking I should because when I was taking in even fewer calories, I didn’t lose any weight and at one point I actually started to gain a bit. It was nuts. If I were to stay where I am or go even lower, my feeling is that my metabolism would never fully repair and I would make the issue worse. Your input is very much appreciated. Thanks!

        • YW. If your muscles lose water it’ll register as LBM lost so don’t give that much credence. Glad to hear you’re moving your metab up though. That’s awesome.

          Yes work your way up to TDEE. It’s the best long-term decision.

          • Deirdre

            Thanks again for your response Mike! Yes, she mentioned that my water was lower this week so I may have been dehydrated which ties in to what you mentioned above about reduced LBM in body comp. Makes sense.

            Just to clarify…so, you are saying to keep increasing calories until I reach maintenance and not worry about any weight or BF increase during the process? And then once at maintenance for a while until my metab adjusts, I can then plan to cut to reduce BF at that point, correct? Also, about how long do you think I have to stay at maintenance so metab adjusts before I can plan to cut?

          • YW!

            Makes sense on the water.

            Yes that’s right. Your weight won’t change much. A few pounds at most and it won’t be fat.

            I like to see 3ish weeks stable at TDEE before going back into a deficit.

          • Deirdre

            I wonder if whatever weight I do put on will stabilize once my metabolism is restored at TDEE. I just am not happy with how my body comp is looking at the moment. I feel soft and kinda puffy. I’m not used to this. I can’t wait until I’m restored and can finally cut and never get myself into this situation again! I’m just sucking it up now bc I know it’ll be so worth it in the long run and it was definitely an amazing lesson. I learned so much about the metabolism and the reasons why my body underwent everything it did due to underfeeding and overexercising. The body is truly amazing. I have a much better understanding of the proper way to manipulate the metabolism to work FOR you in a healthy way, not an unhealthy detrimental way that can not be sustained for life. It’s really awful what we put our bodies through to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, only to find ourselves in a much worse situation than when we first started. It is just bc many people do not have the knowledge and understanding on metabolic capacity and the proper ways to achieving goals in a healthy manner. I thank you for all of the information you are getting out there to educate and help people understand and achieve the goals! You rock!! 🙂

          • Yeah don’t worry about how you look now. This is a long play for the better. Once you get to TDEE you’ll be in a good place to get as lean as you want…

          • Deirdre

            Thanks for your input and time Mike! I appreciate your followup and feedback. BTW, just finished Thinner, Leaner, Stronger and wanted to let you know I LOVED it! Keep the info coming. You are God sent. 😉 I’ll let you know how I’m doing in my progress with reverse dieting. ..

          • YW! Thanks so much! You rock! Keep me posted. 🙂

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  • Jesse

    Hey Mike ,first off, I love this website! Thanks you for all of the information! I have been cutting, and it has been going very well, but I just can’t help myself from running outside now that it is nice out. Hitting the trails and the mountains is something I genuinely enjoy. I was hoping for some tips on adjusting my meal/workout plan so I don’t lose all the strength I’ve worked for. I also don’t want to get that skinny fat look going. I started following your workout routine about 5-6 months ago, and had excellent gains on all the major lifts (increased 30lbs on bench and 60 lbs on deadlift!) – and i’ve been lifting for years. I started cutting about 6 weeks ago (per pound, 1.2 g protein, 1.0 g carb, .2 g fat) and my weight has dropped from 170 to 160 lbs, with minimal impact on my lifts (bench has gone down 10 pounds.) The results in the mirror are great (I started around 14% BF, now down to around 9-10%), but i’m greedy and want to get down to 7-8% and stay ripped during the summer. I’m no marathon runner, but i enjoy running 3-4 times per week, usually no more than 20 miles weekly. Any advice? Once I lose a few more pounds of fat I plan on just maintaining for a few months.

  • Cory

    Mike – I tend to do a fasted (morning coffee) 30-40 min walk first thing in the morning 5-7 days a week. Is this enough cardio when bulking or should I still add the 2-3 HIIT workouts? I know this is not as great, but didn’t know if HIIT is more important for cutting down to 10% and below.

  • SI

    Hi,
    Sorry to be a nitwit, this question must have been asked but I’ve been looking all over MFL and BLS and can’t find an answer to it:
    When bulking on BLS program, including two/three cardio sessions per week, do I have to up my calorie intake on these two/three days to account for this? How is that calculated please?
    All I have found is where you say, ‘You don’t necessarily need food before cardio, but 20 grams of protein isn’t a bad idea as it will help minimize muscle loss.’ Do you eat more on cardio days?
    Appreciate the help.

    • Haha no worries brother!

      As long as your strength is going up and your gaining .5-1 pound a week, there’s no need to up the cals on cardio days. 🙂

      Hope this helps!

  • Juana Zambrano

    K. I’m trying to lose weight n always do 1hr of high intensity elliptical then 20/30mins of weight n a few hrs later go for a run /walk 2 mile jog I’m I doin to much cardio I’m so confused after reading this article pls help ???-

    • Yeah I would definitely bring the cardio down. I don’t recommend more than 5 20-30 min cardio sessions a week.

      I also recommend doing HIIT as opposed to same pace cardio and you should either do cardio and weightlifting at completely different times or do the cardio after lifting if you’re doing them together.

      What do you think?

  • jrnyk

    Hey Mike what do you think of 20-25 minutes of spinning session has HITT 5 times per week? i do like first 15 seconds sprints then 15 seconds regular pace and then i do 30 seconds same thing then 45 second same thing.

    • That’s fine if you’re trying to lose weight! I wouldn’t recommend any more cardio than that though.

  • charlotte

    Hiya, I am looking to gain muscle as I am underweight but I do 15k total in running, 1 swim, 3 x gym with cardio and my body is shutting down I think, I do strength training 3x a week, I can’t seem to find a balance, any advice?

    Ta

    • That much cardio could be getting in the way of your muscle building.

      Most importantly, with that much cardio you need to up your cals. You need to be gaining .5-1 pound a week while clean bulking. If you’re not gaining that much, you’re not eating enough.

      Set up you cals and macros with this:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      Bump them up by 25g carbs daily a week as necessary until you’re gaining .5-1 pound a week.

  • Jason

    I was wondering what the specific nutritional requirements would be surrounding a cardio session lasting up to 60 minutes? I enjoy running a couple times per week as well as taking a spin class here and there. I am just interested in preserving muscle…
    Thanks Michael

  • Anh Le

    Hey Mike, awesome article! but I was wondering the rest time period transitioning from weight lifting to hiit afterwards? do i wait like 15 minutes after i’m done with lifting or I could just move straight to HIIT? thanks dude.

    • Ideally you would do them completely separate (one in the morning and the other in the evening). However, if that’s not possible, you can move straight into HIIT after weight lifting.

      • Anh Le

        Thanks for the reply Mike! I’m trying to lose my fat in my stomach and chest, and my arms are skinny, but the fat barely goes, any tips to lose these stubborn chest and stomach fat? ( and btw i’m not one of those guys that have less than 10% BF, I’m probably around 20). Thanks again for being very informal than other bodybuilding youtubers.

      • Casey Collier

        Why is it that it is optimal to separate the sessions? Is it because of the intensity factor or because of the “muscle burning” factor?

        • More the intensity factor. Most importantly, you want to be as strong as you can for lifting. You also want to be as full of energy as possible to go all out on the HIIT.

          So, when it’s not possible to separate them, the energy for lifting is most important so the HIIT is done after.

  • Adam David Woodhouse

    Hi Mike, I currently do an hour of HIIT training everyday on the bike at the gym, is this too much? I don’t have any issues with aches or pains.

    • That does seem like a lot… Are you lifting weights too?

      Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-much-cardio/

      LMK what you think.

      • Adam David Woodhouse

        Hi Mike,

        People do tell me it’s a lot, I lift weights every day too, always before my cardio routine. My HIIT regime involves 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 30 seconds of a steady pace and this is repeated for an hour every day. Do you think I should carry out this routine (the 30/30 split) but limit it down to 30 minute sessions 4 times a week as recommended by your article?

        Thanks

  • Shaina Moore

    Hi! I have (and love!) Thinner Leaner Stronger. I started lifting just after the new year and have lost 2 pant sizes and I notice I have so much more energy. That being said, I just started training for a half marathon and have cut my weights down to 2x a week from 4, one legs day and an one upper, alternating squats deadlifts and then back/bi and chest/tri each week in effort to get in enough working sets. Is there a better way to maintain my gains?

  • Emma Field

    Hi, I cycle 3 times a week to work. In total 60 miles which takes 1 hour each way so 6 hours a week in total.
    I really do not want to give this up because it saves me money in fuel and i enjoy it. Is there a way that I can still do this 6 hours of biking and for it to not to have a negative effect? I also do a 1 hour run a week.
    Thank you

    • Yeah should be fine. Have some protein before IMO and don’t treat them like high-intensity workouts. Just cruise.

      • Emma Field

        Cool thanks 🙂 I alternate between standing up and ‘going for it’ and cruising. Hopefully this cycle of getting my heart rate up for 30 secs then rest for 30 secs will be beneficial to weight loss?

        • YW. I wouldn’t do that. I would just take it easy because it’s a lot of riding.

  • deyon strydom

    Thanks again this really helped!

  • LTM

    Hi Mike, great article. I do 3 x 28 min HIT sessions per week and a approx 4hrs of LIT. However, I cant seem to get lean. Any suggestions?

  • Angie Koneczny Helgeson

    Hey Mike! First of all, I’d like to thank you for all of the articles and information. TLS was a great read too. I am usually pretty wiped after my weight training sessions (afternoons work best for me for these workouts), and because of time, I don’t do my HIIT at this time. I’ve been doing my HIIT in the AM (in a fasted state) when I wake up. So, it is OK if I do my HIIT in the AMs a few days a week and continue with my 5 day weight training plan in the afternoons? Does it screw anything up for the day? Thanks so much for everything!

    • Thanks Angie! Glad you’re enjoying the articles and enjoyed TLS. 🙂

      Totally fine on the AM fasted cardio. I recommend keeping the cardio and weight lifting completely separate so that’s perfect.

      Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

  • Daniel Henao Posada

    Hi Mike,

    I’m a bit worried. I lift weights 4 times a week (monday, tuesday, thursday, friday) and go out to run twice a week (wednesday about 40 minutes and sunday about one hour)… I do it because I really enjoy it, and it is an activity that I share with my father… I’m a newb so I can burn some fat and build muscle… Is that amount of cardio really bad to reach my goals?

    I’m 24 years old, height: 6′ weight: 183…. I used to be fat… I lost about 45 pounds in the last year…

    • Nah. That much cardio is fine. Typically, I recommend shorter sessions more often, but it’s fine if you want to stick to that routine.

  • Love

    Hi,I love your website. I had a few questions about cardiovascular and strength training. I am trying to lose some body fat and gain more muscle.Right now I am at 24.6 % …is that too much? I’m a 23 Year old female, 5’2. ..128 pounds I do mostly HIIT cardio for about 35 mins .. 3 times out of the week.My heart rate is at its maximum of about 157-166 most of the cardio session.I try to keep my heart rate elevated the entire time using my heart rate monitor that I have. Is that too much intense cardio?

    I do strength training right after cardio for about 45-50 mins.I usually do strength training a extra day by itself sometimes.I read in your article that lifting should come after.I’m always very sore after strength training .Which is why I usually do it afterwards.
    I do mostly kettle bells exercises .I’m still new to everything. …so I’m trying to still figure things out.I also take around 92-105 grams of protein a day..

  • Wael shokry

    Hi, i’m 39 yeats old and i’m doing cardio 6 days per week (HIIT) for at least 30-45 minutes per session, now i have reached 3.5% body fat, the question is how much cardio should i do now to maintain this body fat percentage and start muscle building ?

  • Noah

    hey Mike,

    Just listened to your last podcast, great job. One question about the benefit of steady state aerobic cardio. I have played sports and done short runs with super ripped guys and they just can’t keep up at all. They are strong and even do a little HIIT…but after playing for for a bit they are just sucking wind. What’s the balance here? I know you do work out your heart with weight lifting but it seems an overall program might include some Aerobic type of training so you are able to perform in these type of situations. Thoughts? Thanks!

    https://experiencelife.com/article/steady-state-cardio-vs-high-intensity-interval-training/

    • Thanks!

      You can build a fair amount of endurance with HIIT only but yes you would want to include longer, steady-state cardio as well if you want to maximize it.

  • Clay Eamer

    Hey Mike, how much HIIT would you recommend for someone who spends a couple days a week skiing or hiking?

  • Vespin

    So if I’m getting this right, when I’m cutting I should:
    -Be on a caloric deficit
    -Do no more than 4 HIIT sessions per week
    -Incorporate resistance training to maintain, not increase muscle mass(meaning I shouldn’t move up in weight during my cuts)
    Correct?

    Also, quick question: If being on a caloric deficit is what I need to lose weight, than what’s the point of doing cardio? If I do my HIIT on the same day as I’m on a caloric deficit, wouldn’t I be depriving my body of more calories- leading me to a skinny-fat look? :

    • Right.

      Cardio helps you burn more energy which is better than cutting calories lower.

  • Mikr Dponza

    Hey Mike, great article I really like I tend to follow your tips as much as possible.However, right now im working out 5 times a week mon/wed/fri I do weights tu/thurs I do cardio, but eventhough i do 1 hour of cardio low intensity(jogging mainly) each of those days I dont feel im improving at all I feel a bit stuck

  • Andrea West

    Thanks. I needed a confirmation. I’ve been having problems losing fat and talked to my family dr about it. She told me to stop strength training as much, and do cardio and hour a day 7 days a week. I didn’t think that was right.

  • Yousef

    Hi mike, i do weights 5 days a week and i have 2 rest days , is it ok to do HIIT on my rest days ?

  • Kal-El

    Mike, fasted cardio or normal cardio when bulking?

    • 1. If you prefer fasted you can. Otherwise there’s no reason to do it fasted.

      2. Yep.

      3. You should be doing as many as you can each time. You should see some improvement.

  • Clayton Amero

    Hey Mike, thanks for all your help! I started working out back in June and I’ve already lost 35 pounds, with a lot of the info on your site really helping make that happen!

    I have a few questions after reading this article however. Most of what I have been doing was sessions of HIT training that were 30-40 minutes long. The routine changed slightly throughout the summer, but it was mostly this HIT cardio twice a day 3-4 days a week (with one of them, sometimes both, being fasted), once a day 1-2 days, and resting 1-2 days. The only weight training I did was bi’s twice a weak.

    This seemed effective in weight loss, and I didn’t seem to be loosing muscle any mass, if anything I was gaining it on my legs in a steady amount.

    Due to a full time project when school started back up, I went down to this cardio about 4 or 5 times a week once in the evening (bi’s once a week), and my weight loss seemed to slow down.

    This past week, the project finished and I got free time back. I bought a membership to the gym beside our school, and have times in the morning and afternoon between classes I can potentially go.

    Because of this, this past week I returned to doing this cardio as I did in the summer, with the majority of the week being cardio twice a day and bi’s twice a week. I already lost another 2 pounds in the just over a week of me returning to this.

    • Great job! That rocks.

      Honestly if you’re doing well and are happy with the results, keep it going.

      Some people are VERY resistant to muscle loss. Good genetics. 🙂

      If you want to gain some muscle, though, you could replace some of that HIIT with weightlifting and continue losing fat and add some muscle as well.

      Check this out:

      https://legionathletics.com/body-recomposition/

  • ARL

    This is very interesting and a lot of great points, however, not everyone who does endurance, even ultra endurance or very long distance has knee injuries and back injuries and all that. That has more to do with how you train. I see more people injured doing weights than the ones I see training “properly” for endurance events. I think this is a great article in so many ways, thank you, but it is important to not demonize one or the other. I agree on the weight loss, I agree on so many things but many people also enjoy racing and swimming, biking, running and many do it really well, training properly, recovering, periodizing the intensity periods and they manage to avoid injuries and perform really well.

    • Thanks for the comment. Glad you liked the article.

      Yeah how you train matters a lot but, generally speaking, the wear and tear on joints is much greater in endurance athletes.

  • Shri Kant

    Hi Mike, great and moving article!
    I have two questions:
    1. Is it necessary to lift weights or we can just lose weight and stay fit with HIIT 3-4 days per week?
    2. Shall we completely stop regular cardio? ‘Cause after all it must have at least some benefits?

    • Thanks!

      1. Don’t have to lift weights but it IS very good for losing fat and building/preserving muscle.

      2. I wouldn’t stop it unless you have a really good reason to. I do about an hour per week as a standard routine.

      3. Not sure on that one. Gonna have to try it and see…

  • David Mathis

    You should also consider that not everyone has the same genetic makeup. Some seem to be better suited for different things. For example, I had my genes mapped and am learning that my genetics make my body better suited for cardio and endurance and not so good at strength training.

    I do moderate calisthenics about 30% and cardio about 70% and I am stable at about 10% bf at 160 lbs, toned and have perfect blood work. I feel much better when I am doing cardio than when I am doing resistance training.

    Sometimes I am eating as much as 4000 calories a day.

    I do agree that too much cardio is a bad thing and there are studies that show that 4.5 hours of cardio per week is optimal for extending life.

    Check out 23andMe and Athletigen.

    • I have the same genetic type actually but have been able to build quite a bit of muscle and strength.

      That said, if you feel good doing what you’re doing, keep it up. Do keep in mind the placebo effect though. If you THINK you’re going to do better with your current setup it’s VERY likely that you’re going to feel that way as well.

      4.5 hours per week is a good number. Not of HIIT IMO but LISS? Sure.

  • Paul Hall

    Mike, I do the 3 day split from your book on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday early mornings. I do HIIT consisting of elliptical, double ended bag, heavy bag, and speed bag for a total of around 50 mins early morning on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with Sunday being a rest day. When the weather is good I try to get a couple bike rides in during the week around 10 miles each at a pretty good clip. Want to make sure my HIIT isn’t interfering with the progress I get from the weights. I usually have a protein shake about 30 to 40 mins before my morning HIIT.

    • Cool on the split and HIIT you’re doing. Are you saying when the weather is nice you also bike ride? Or you bike ride instead of HIIT?

      I wouldn’t recommend both. That’s a bit too much volume, and it could effect your progress in the gym.

      • Paul Hall

        Usually I do my HIIT n the morning, and yes if the weather is nice I try to get 2 rides in during the week usually on the same days as my HIIT. would it be better to ride on the weight days. If not i will do one or the other one my HIIT days.

        • Yeah if anything, you can do the rides after the weightlifting.

          From there let’s see how it goes. If it’s effecting your strength in the gym, let’s reduce the cardio volume.

          • Paul Hall

            Thanks for the advice, I will make the change. So far down 80 pounds since I started this. Am currently at 205 pounds and around 30 percent body fat. Since I have lost the weight now its about increasing lean mass and getting rid of what fat I have left

          • YW! Sounds good.

            Great job for what you’ve done so far Paul!

            I like your goal. Let’s do it.

  • Yowza

    Hi Mike!

    Love your site(s) and the TLS book! I’m about halfway through, so I may come across this answer later, but can’t stand not knowing.

    About fasted training: I typically weight train over the lunch hour (yes, I use Forge), break my fast with lunch and Phoenix, and then if it’s a HIIT day (30 min), do that right after work. That second session is obviously not fasted since I’ve just had lunch a few hours prior.

    My question is, between the weight training and HIIT on those days, which would burn more fat to do while fasted – weights or HIIT? Maybe it’s a wash and maybe the answer will be different once I’m bulking again, but would love to know what you think.

    About Me: Female, 5′ 3″, 136.4 lbs, 25%BF

    I am currently cutting and just trying to burn fat/maintain the muscle I’ve gained (newbie gains no doubt, realized I wasn’t in as much of a deficit as I could have been – but I’ll take it).

    So far have lost about 16-17 lbs on the scale, but have put on quite a bit of muscle, so thinking it’s been more than that of actual fat (I didn’t wise up to the calipers for about 9 mos).

    • Thanks! 🙂

      Cool on what you’re doing.

      Hmm probably a wash to be honest. I doubt you’d notice a difference either way.

      Wow great job on your results. That’s awesome. I’d love to put you up on the site when you reach your goal!

  • Thanks Mike. I just have one or two more questions here. I do high, medium, and low intensity cardio. By medium I mean 15 min of elyptical or cycling before my 4 lifting sessions. By low I mean walking 3-5 hours per week. Will that amount of medium and low intensity cardio make me lose muscle? Isn’t walking better for muscle preservation than jogging? Body builders seem to do very low intensity cardio when they do cardio. Or is that just more broscience? Thanks.

    • Nope it will be fine. Just account for it in your diet.

      • Thanks, Mike. Loving your book so far!

        • NP! Happy to hear it. 🙂

          LMK if you have any questions. I’m happy to help!

          • Well you know me, I’m not gonna pass an opportunity to ask a question. When you count your protein, do you give the same importance to protein from meat and protein from plants for instance? In one article I read from you, it says the amino acid profile of plants is much poorer than meat’s. So surely they can’t be counted the same? Thanks.

          • Haha no worries!

            They are counted the same meaning you still count all grams of protein from plants, but I recommend you get the majority of your protein from animal sources (dairy, eggs, etc. included).

            The more from animal sources the better. 70-80% or more from animal sources is good.

            Welcome!

          • Cool, that’s what I do. Another thing I read is that you should try to not get more than 25% of your daily protein from whey protein. I get about 40% from whey and now I want to take casein powder before bed too. Is that fine?

          • There are a lot of opinions on this and I’ve yet to see anything scientifically convincing as to what percentage of protein should come from powders.

            That said, personally I get about 70% of my daily protein from whole food.

  • Atli

    Michael. Definitely the best article I’ve ever come across in the field of cardio. Let’s get this out of the way up front: I hate cardio, I really loath it, but I’m also 41 and the reason I drag myself through 30 minutes of treadmill on Wednesdays and another 30 on Sundays is that I want to increase the odds of enjoying a few good years after retirement (in 2041). I lift weights five times a week and love every minute of that activity ever since 1988 so that’s no problem. But the question: If I’m not focusing on loosing body fat (I’m 194 cm (6’5?) and 95 kilos (210 lbs?) and have never been in the vicinity of overweight) but primarily thinking about the old pump and it’s lifespan, does it really matter if I do HIIT or steady state cardio? I’m not going to call it low intensity because I still have never reached a whole 30 minute period of my usual speed 10.0, incline 6.0 without taking a walking break. My record as of today is 23:30 and just a short period of slacking or a weekend with the bottle sends me soaring right down to 15 – 20 minutes and mark my word I hate every second of it! What is your opinion here, fat burning vs. heart health? All the best and thank you for the article, -Atli

    • Thanks!

      Haha I’m not a big fan of cardio either but I find that a recumbent or upright bike + Netflix works nicely. 🙂

      If you’re not trying to maximize fat loss, there’s nothing wrong with doing LISS. It sounds like it fits your needs.

  • Matthew

    Thanks for the great read Mike. I was just curious what a typical 25-30 min HIIT cardio session looked like for you? I like to do my HIIT after weights. Is it possible to go to hard on the HIIT? I feel sometimes pretty tired and lethargic and was wondering if doing strength training (bench [4-6 reps/set], squats [6-9 reps/set], deads [6-10 reps/set], pull ups) 3X a week and doing HIIT (for my HIIT I sometimes do sand sprints, hill sprints, or jump rope intervals at 100% for 30 sec ON and 60-90 sec REST for 6-10 reps) too hard could be taxing my CNS too much to recover. What are your thoughts?

    • Thanks!

      Your HIIT is going to suffer slightly from the lifting but better that than the reverse, you know?

      Personally I do recumbent or upright biking and pedal hard for 60 to 90 seconds and rest 1 to 1.5 x the high-intensity interval.

      Sprints are very very hard. I used to do them but they fried my legs too much so I stopped.

  • Stefanie Mcintyre

    Hello~ I have been doing 30-35 min. cardio sessions every day on my Gazelle. I’ve gotten down to the weight I want, but it’s in part because my Dr. said I apparently haven’t been consuming enough carbs and calories for my level of exercise. I’m feeling frustrated, because I want to maintain my weight as well as eat healthily. I feel like I’m force feeding myself when I’m not hungry. Should I just back off the cardio then? I’ve developed a lot of muscle tone also through toning exercises, and I just don’t want to lose progress!!

  • Clyde Kendriks

    “This is probably because I recommend a very moderate amount of
    high-intensity interval cardio–no more than 4 sessions per week, and no
    more than 25 to 30 minutes per session.”
    “The bottom line is 3 to 4 25-to-30-minute sessions of
    high-intensity interval cardio per week is you need to get as lean as
    you want.”
    “Personally I do recumbent or upright biking and pedal hard for 60 to 90.”

    Hi Mike,

    Nice website. You have a lot of great articles and a lot of useful info on here, my compliments.

    But I strongly disagree with the advice that you give in this article.
    What you’ve been doing works great for you, but it’s not HIIT. If you can go for 60-90 seconds it’s not HIIT.
    I mean no disrespect, but not even a world class athlete can maintain maximum intensity for 60 seconds.
    But that’s what HIIT is all about: absolute maximum intensity, balls to the wall,not just pedaling hard. I don’t want to get all technical but our bodies energy system just can’t perform that way.

    And you will not be able to do real HIIT for 30 minutes, not even once a week, let alone 4 times a week on top of weight-training a few times a week without burning out very, very fast.

    Will Brink wrote an article about this subject called:
    HIIT Training, are you really doing it? – Brinkzone

    Peace.

  • Alissa Barker Barlow

    Hi Mike! Your article makes me feel so much better on cardio. I have many hurdles on fat loss. I’m a 40 yo female with food allergies–milk, beef,chicken, corn, and shellfish. I’m having a hard time figuring out macros and determining the best lifting workout. Here I have been doing 45 minutes on the elliptical on “Killamonjaro” hills and doing it BEFORE weight lifting. I had no idea I was doing things so wrong. Hopefully I can find a way that actually works for me!

  • kayla marie

    Hi Mike! Great article! Okay no wonder weight is not coming off. I am a 51 year old vegetarian coffee drinker but dont eat breakfast or lunch i quit smoking after 30 years and the weight snuck on. I go to cardio for 45 minutes 3 days acweek and zumba for an hour once a week tgen i do the treadmill for 30 minutes after each class. I need to lose about 25 pounds but its not coming off. What should i be doing instead?

  • ariel

    Hi mike. Im at 14.5%bf now(coming from 30%) and was wondering… Do i absolutely need cardio? I go to the gym 4 hours a week and im losing weight fine with out it. Or wjen will i start needing it? Also, when u say u personaly are lifting weights for about an hour a day, does that include ab workouts as well? Thanks.

    • Awesome job!

      Technically no, it all comes down to properly managing your energy balance. As you get really lean though, I find it becomes necessary to do cardio to keep making progress.

      Yep, the hour includes ab work.

      My pleasure! Hope this helps! LMK what you think.

  • Facundo

    Hi Mike, I’m a big fan of your work. I tried HIIT on the bike and the rower but I don’t really enjoy it. I do however enjoy running outside (never on the treadmill!!) and I also play pick up soccer anywhere from 1 to 2 times per week. What are your guidelines when it comes to running (30-40 min) and playing a recreation soccer ( 60-90 min) for cardio. Thanks man!!

    • That’s totally fine. Soccer is great for cardio.

      Just make sure you don’t overdo it on the total amount of cardio for the week. I don’t recommend more than 2-2.5 hours of cardio per week.

      Welcome!

  • Joe Larocca

    Hi mike. I wanted to say that I found this article very interesting and helpful. However I do have a couple of questions. Im an 18 year old guy. I am currently 5’11 and 223 pounds. I actually have lost about 17 pounds over the past month doing just cardio and maintaining a healthy diet. Recently I got into weight training because I finally realize that I was doing it all wrong, so my question to you is this: what kind of excersizes should I do to maximize fat loss and his often should I do them them? My goal is to lose another 30 pounds or so. Thank you.

    • Happy to hear it!

      NP on the questions.

      Good job on the weight you’ve lost so far. Cool you’re training now.

      I recommend following a 3-5 day split focusing on the heavy, compound lifts and some HIIT cardio as well. Check these out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-build-a-workout-routine/

      https://legionathletics.com/high-intensity-interval-training/

      Also, more important than the training in terms of weight loss is the diet. Check this out:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      I like the goal. Let’s make it happen.

      My pleasure. Talk soon!

      • Joe Larocca

        Hi again Mike, first of all thank you for the advice. I plan to follow your recommended 5 day workout regime starting on Monday. Lately I have run into a bit of a problem, because I have only lost about a pound or 2 in the past 10 days after dropping a lot. Is this normal? If so how do I power through it and continue to lose more weight? My theory was that I have been building muscle lately so that may have temporarily stumped the weight loss. Thanks for the help once again.

  • Mike Whitney

    Hi, I’m looking to get into some of your workout routines and try to get past my current fit-ish build to a very lean build, but I’m also very interested in running a half-marathon and progressing to a marathon at some point. I’ve definitely been seeing the diminishing returns of my weightlifting as I’ve upped my running distances. Can you see any way to include long distance running in your workouts? Thanks a lot!

  • Kristyn Bradley

    Hi Mike,
    The article was very interesting and helpful. I am a female and want to lose about 20-30 lbs in fat loss (a lot of belly fat) then be able to build muscle and have definition. How much cardio is good for that and then how much weight training should I be doing?

  • Brittany

    Hi Mike! I am so interested in your stuff, but do not really know where to start. I am 26 years old, female, and back in Apr of 2015 I weighed 259lbs. Since then, I have changed my diet a little, come off soda completely, lots of water, and am in the gym 6bdays a week. I love working out now and am addicted to my new lifestyle. I look like a new person and now weigh 188lbs. I am a cardio junkie, I do do some weoghts to build and keep nuscle strength, and I do somr core cardio string to rid this dtubborn csection lip. However, I feel as if I have hit a plateau and cant get past it. I DO 30 min of high incline treadmill at a 3.5 to 3.7 pace at a 25 to 30 degree incline. That averages about 2 miles, I then run the last mile. I bike 4 miles in about 14 mins. I just need some guidance imon a really great, effective workout for where I am at now. Thanks!

    • Hey Brittany! Glad you’re interested!

      Awesome on all the changes you made in your life and great job on the results. You look great!

      I hear you on the plateau. First, let’s make sure you’re not overdoing the cardio. How many hours of cardio are you doing a week?

      To help ensure you continue losing fat, take a look at this:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      That should help. LMK what you think!

  • Rosebud 🌹

    Hi Mike,
    I’m so glad to find this article after so many that support 6-7 days of cardio for an hour at a time. I’m 40, had my fifth baby a year ago, and CANNOT lose the last twenty pounds (I gained 90). I severely restricted my food intake for a while (I know, I know), went through a couple months of daily heavy cardio, tried every crazy fad out there. I’ve plateaud here.

    Any other advice? Are weight lifting workouts done on cardio days or off days? Does it matter?

    I don’t want to look good “for having five kids”. I want to look good, be fit, and still have the energy to chase everyone for the next twenty years.

    Thanks for all you do.

    ~ Jenna

  • Dora Sims

    Hi Mike,

    This is fantastic info, and it’s really great that you’re still responding to comments on this article (at least I hope so, for my sake!).

    I’m female, 25 years old, 124 lbs (up from 120 lbs, unfortunately, which is where I was just over a month ago), and 27% BF. Just over a month ago—right before the weight gain—I started a training regime that consists of 4 strength-training days and 2 HIIT cardio days. So my schedule looks a bit like this: legs/core, chest/triceps, HIIT, back/biceps/core, shoulders/conditioning, HIIT, rest. As a HIIT beginner, my routine consists of 15 minutes of 20:30 sprint/rests at 10 mph, plus warm-up and cool-down. By the end, I’m close to throwing up (which is when I know I’m done). I also do HIIT on separate days altogether, because I’ve read that it’s next to impossible to give maximal effort/avoid injury if you do it the same day as you’ve lifted (especially legs).

    So my main question is whether there is some truth to this? I used to have two leg days a week, but cut it down to one because I found I wasn’t able to schedule two leg days and two HIIT days without them overlapping or being too close to each other without adequate time to rest my leg muscles. What do you advise?

    As i mentioned earlier, I’m at a healthy weight, but I have gained 4 lbs since starting my new program, and I’m 100% sure it’s not muscle. My goal is to get down to 20–21% BF by this fall, and I was wondering if my lack of progress was due, in part anyway, to lack of cardio. But after reading your article, that’s probably not the case, huh?

    • Thanks! Happy to stay in touch. 🙂

      You could do your leg days and HIIT on the same day. It’d be rough, but you can do it.

      Understood on the recent weight gain and cool on your goal. Let’s make it happen.

      Your lack of progress simply comes down to energy balance. If you’re eatmore cals than you burn, you’ll gain weight. If you eat less, you’ll lose weight. It’s as simple as that.

      To help, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Stephan

    Hi Mike!

    What about the heart beat doing HIIT? After 15 minutes doing HIIT I have in the hard intervals about 170 until 185 beat per minute. I´m 38 years old. What do you recommend?

  • Crystal

    Hello,
    I want to loose weight and build muscle. So far I’m down 20 pounds and have lost 16 inches total. I have recently started adding weight to my routine. So far my routine goes like this. 3 sets of 3 different exercises (arms/legs/glutes/core etc depending on day) with heavy weights. 8-12 reps with 2 min sprints in between sets. I do 2 rounds of this and give myself rest days every other day. Would this qualify As a high intensity workout incorporating cardio? I feel BEAT, but in a good way, after every work out. I am eating clean and have not cut out carbs completely, i left in the complex carbs and veggie carbs.

  • Guillermo Vera

    Hello Mike,

    I’ve been reading your book “Cardio Sucks” and was wondering about the effects of LISS on my weight loss goals.

    I used to enjoy running in the mornings in a fasted state and plan to resume that once I get my Forge next week but I was thinking if it’s ok to just go jogging. I do it more cause I like it more than seeing it as a “cardio” workout. Would it be too detrimental for my goals? Aside from this I follow a HIIT/Weight program.

    Also, can I eat after working out in a fasted state on Forge or is there a sweet spot to not counter the effects of the ingredients?

    Thanks

    • Okay great! No worries. 🙂

      LMK if you have any other questions!

  • Joa Bohorquez

    Hi Mike,

    What if im tryin to loose 1 – 2% BF in a couple weeks? I lift 5 times per week and Im on a diet – I started fasted HITT a couple weeks ago 4 times per week – If I make them shorter than 20 min and istead do lets say 10 sets of 30/30 or 30/30 X 6 times a week is too much? Even if I stay in the 2.5 hour per week rage?

    Obviously im doing it in the morning so I actually don’t have that much time – and of course have to do it BEFORE my lifting training – any recommendations? z(already taking all you recommend for fasted training) –

    • You can make them shorter and do them more frequently. That’s totally fine. As long as you stay within the time recommendation of cardio for the week, you’re good.

      However, I don’t recommend doing HIIT before weightlifting. It should be done afterwards.

      For faster, short-term weight loss, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-lose-weight-fast/

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Kamil

    Hey,

    Thank you for all of your articles, they have been very helpful.

    Could you explain me one thing: what about people who really like cardio – for example if it is okay to play 2×60-75 mins of basketball or other sport games per week? I totally love it, played for years and cannot imagine leaving out this stuff for the time of reduction.

    I know that too much cardio (literally hours, hours weekly for many years) created current “plateau” issue for me but I would like at least to continue with team sports 2x week.

    I forgot to mention – of course my goal at the moment is a fat loss

    • My pleasure!

      That much is totally fine. No worries!

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

  • Christine L.

    Hello Michael,
    Tremendous article. I’ve recently gotten my 60 year older mother hooked on fitness. She has lost 12 lbs in the last month doing only cardio (Zumba). Now that her body’s gotten used to regular exercise, I would like to start her on the weights.
    She loves doing Zumba. So I’m thinking 2 half sessions per week with 3 full body workouts with light weights for a few weeks and we can go up from there.
    What do you think?

    Best regards,
    Christine 🙂

  • Dixie

    Hi Mike!
    I am appreciating all this information…but it is a little confusing for me… a newbie. I am wanting to lose about 40 pounds of fat. Can you please point me in the right direction to get started.
    Thank you!
    Dixie

  • Lisa J

    In fact, a study conducted by researchers at The University of Western Ontario showed that doing just 4 – 6 30-second sprints burns more fat over time than 60 minutes of incline treadmill walking. Yes, you read that correctly.ins. Is there any research that supports this level of cardio, as opposed to doing much less? I am thinking that if doing 4 – 6 30 sec sprint burns more fat than 60 mins of incline treadmill walking then wouldn’t just a few of these sprint burn sessions per week be enough?

    • It depends how quickly you want to lose fat. You’re going to burn more fat by doing several sessions per week. 🙂

  • Ted M

    Hi Mike,

    Awesome site and book – really appreciate all the help. I am training for a race (tough mudder – 10-12 miles), is there anything you would recommend to do on the days when I need to run 6-9 miles in order to prevent muscle loss?

    • Thanks Ted!

      I’d say have some protein and carbs before and after and you should be fine. Try not to be in a calorie deficit while you’re doing a lot of cardio as well.

  • Laura

    Hi Mike,

    Great site! What is your opinion on cardio for improving recovery? Every time I have tried myofascial foam rolling to improve recovery, it has actually had the inverse effect and increased muscle stiffness, soreness and cramping; however, a 30 to 60 minute jog immediately after weight training helps with my recovery and even strength gains (I think it is the impact progressively loosening any tight bands / fibrosis). Should I be concerned that I am shooting myself in the foot?

    Thanks Bunches!
    Laura

  • Melissa

    Such good info. I have been directed to your blog several times after a number of different searches, and I am ready to call, “Uncle.” What do I need to change up? Currently, I am alternating between HIIT training 3 days a week and circuit style cardo/weights. (Run 10 minutes, do arms, run 10 minutes do legs… etc.) I do this also 3 days a week. My diet is pretty good, mostly poultry and veggies, with one, fabulous, splurge day. I have no idea what I weigh, I know am not over weight. I have a good 12+ inches between my waist and hip measurements… But I cannot seem to slim that touch of fluff that is the bane of my existence. Am I over training? Should I keep at it? Do I need to focus and clean up my diet even more? Learn to love the fluff? Help.

  • Chris

    This may have come up in the past but how hard do you actually go while doing HIIT for 30 minutes?!!? If I give a legit 9.5-10 / 10 effort on my Airdyne I can’t keep it up for more that 15-20 seconds. After that RRM’s drop like a rock. Repeating this 4-5 times is rough man…. I do a fair amount of conditioning but man.. Internet warriors say HIIT = 10/10 effort level but do you really think that is feasible / sustainable? I don’t understand how everyone wouldn’t simply DREAD doing it…

  • Smit

    Thanks for the info Mike! l have a question though, l’m currently 6’1′ and 84 kgs, and l’m looking to get leaner, so how long should l do cardio, and for how many days? Also, how should l mix LISS and HIIT?

  • Sfine

    Hey mike,
    I think I’ve asked about 100 questions on your articles, here’s another. Pretty much for the last 2 months I’ve been doing BLS 5x a week and HIIT 2-3. I also have been golfing 2x a week usually walking which while not very intensive still counts as LISS cardio as far as I’ve been lead to believe, and hiking on weekends depending on the hike between 2-8 miles. Should I cut back on HIIT, or as long as I’m losing weight and able to progress in my lifts I should be ok?

    • No worries! I’m happy to help. 🙂

      Cool on everything you have going on. To make sure you’re not overdoing it, let’s drop the HIIT to 1-2 sessions a week.

      The goal is to lose 1-2 pounds a week so adjust intake/activity accordingly.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Shenanigans

    Great article. I purchased your book, just haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. I will tonight.
    I just started on my weight loss journey and i’m really, really confused which path to take. I’m reading all sorts of conflicting information. I’ve been pretty much dieting all my life and i’m pretty serious this time about attaining my goals of weight loss. I’m afraid that I won’t do it properly and i’ll lose 20lbs and then just gain 30 like I have in the past.
    Currently, I’m spinning 4-5 times a week. After reading your article I realize that’s excessive and not conducive to weight loss. I plan to reduce my spinning, which falls under HIIT (45 mins) to 3 times a week. I’m too new to working out so i’m not sure if weight-lifting is for me…yet. I plan on incorporating a total-body workout (use weights-i don’t exceed 8lbs)into my exercise plan and perhaps one other strength training class.
    As far as my diet goes, i’ve eliminated all white flour. If i’m really craving bread (it is a weakness of mine), i’ll have a slice of whole grain bread. I try not to exceed 3 slices in a day(is that too much?) I eat veggies (sometimes), but my diet is mainly high protein. I eat a lot of chicken and beans and whole grains.
    My lifestyle is very, very inactive. My job involves sitting at a desk (that sucks).
    Can you please offer any advise or guidance in the right path?
    I want to do this the right way and make it a part of a lifestyle.

    Thanks.

    • Thanks! And thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it.

      I’m here to help!

      Good call on reducing the cardio. 🙂

      Cool on the full-body workouts.

      Regarding your diet, you can still reach your goals eating white flour (assuming you’re not allergic or anything like that). I recommend sticking to nutritious foods, but you can reach your goals eating white flower as long as you hit your target cals/macros.

      That’s fine on the whole grain bread and your lifestyle. Let’s try to get several servings of fruits and veges daily and then to calculate your cals/macros, check this out:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/

      LMK how it goes.

  • Adam Dye

    Hi Mike, I read your book and I read a lot of the articles on your site, so for all the great information I must first of all say “thanks”.

    I have a couple questions about cardio in my training.

    I’m a tall ecotomorph. 6’4 around 195 pounds with body fat in the 6.5%-8.5% range(I say those numbers based off the body composition analysis machine at my gym and fat calipers). I’m 32 but still have quite a fast metabolism based off my genetics.

    I count my macros and calories daily(and eat 95% clean foods) but I actually eat about 200 calories more than what the calculator on your website recommends for a bulking phase for me (3600 instead of 3400 daily) because since doing your program for almost 3 months now, I’ve gained 5 pounds of muscle and actually dropped my body fat by about half a percent (I measure it with the machine at the gym and with calipers at home every 3-4 weeks). I only have about an inch of fat left on my lower belly which some people think is just water weight(I’m not so sure).

    I’ve been doing HIIT cardio on the exercise bike and speed rope 2-3 times a week for around 25 minutes since doing your program. So in total, that’s 5 days of week of weights and 2- 3 times HIIT.

    My questions are these

    1) Should I even bother doing cardio because of my fast metabolism?

    2) Will it help me burn the remaining fat even though I’m trying to bulk?

    3) Also, I know you say not to do to much intense cardio, but what about walking? Can I go for a daily 30-40 minute, light, brisk walk without worrying about effecting possible muscle/size gain as a substitute for HIIT?

    Thanks again for all the great information

    Adam

    • Thanks for reading my book and articles! I really appreciate it.

      My pleasure, man, and thanks for all the info.

      Cool you’re using the caliper to track BF%. The machines can be painfully inaccurate:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/body-composition/

      Cool you’re eating above the bulking cals of the calculator. The calculator is accurate for most people, but you should always adjust intake based off results. The goal is to gain 1/2-1 pound a week so feel free to increase the intake a bit more.

      To help with the last bit of fat next time you cut, check this out:

      https://legionathletics.com/how-to-lose-belly-fat/

      1. A bit of cardio can actually help with muscle growth. Let’s just make sure you don’t overdo it. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/cardio-and-muscle-growth-friends-or-foes/

      2. Nah. You need to be in a deficit to do that.

      3. Sure, that’d be fine!

      Happy to share. 🙂 Talk soon.

  • Natalie

    Hey Mike!

    I started losing weight a few months ago. Initially i went into it cutting calories to 1300-1500/day and 4-5 days of intense cardio. I really enjoy the cardio, or at least I did up until recently. About a month ago I really started to drag. My energy just isn’t that great anymore and I don’t love my workouts as much. The kind of cardio I’m doing is a 50 minute zumba type class with some weights. I’ve definitely built muscle from it.

    I like the cardio because it gives me a mood boost and it also allows me some leeway with my eating which I don’t like to be too strict about.

    The weight loss has stalled a bit- and I totally know its all about the calories, so the balance is probably off. But- my question is, do you think my body has hit a wall with all the cardio? Why is it not as enjoyable or energizing any longer? Why are the same workouts SO much harder to complete? Should i use a pre workout?

    Also, do you think if I cut back I’ll gain?

    What are your thoughts on some lighter stuff like power walking- more for the emotional boost?

    I really don’t like too much weight training on my body. I know most women complain of bulk, but I build muscle insanely fast and it makes me look bigger, not smaller and compact like I would like.

    Sorry if this is scrambled! I would really appreciate your advice on how to proceed for more efficient and enjoyable weight loss!

    (Stats: 5’7″, 155 pounds/ GW:125)

    • Hey Natalie! Thanks for all the info, and I get where you’re at!

      First to help get the weight moving, check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      Too much cardio could be part of the issue. How many hours of cardio are you doing weekly?

      Walking is great! Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/cardio-workouts/

      Understood on the weightlifting.

      No worries!

      Give those articles a look and LMK what you think.

      • Natalie

        Hey! Thank you! So I’m actually not doing too much at this point. Maybe 2 hour sessions of Zumba style workout a week that has some HIIT incorporated. Also lots of walking everywhere (at least 40 blocks a day). Also 1-2 week 30 min elliptical. But I used to do more of the dance and had so much energy during and after it. Now it’s so much harder for me and I feel drained after. Do you think I should just do fasted walking each morning and get more accurate about the calories?

        Also, I’ve been really hungry some days. I’ve been at 1400 for a few months but feeling like I might need a bit more. I don’t want to reverse diet- could I have higher calorie days when I’m more hungry and compensate the next day. Calorie cycling?

        Thanks so much for your knowledge and advice mike!

        • YW! Hmm. Even that much is pushing it. Check this out:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/cardio-and-muscle-growth-friends-or-foes/

          The fasted walking can definitely help. You definitely want to be accurate with your tracking of cals/macros too.

          Ehh. I don’t really recommend calorie cycling unless you’re an experienced lifter and are pretty happy with your physique and are just trying to maintain it.

          To continue losing weight, you’re going to have to lower your intake. However, if you are at BMR or when you hit BMR, you’ll need to RD and then continue cutting:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com/reverse-diet/

          What do you think?

          Welcome! Talk soon.

  • Yse Avolio

    Hello Mike !

    So after reading your article which was very informative I still have one question though : in my case (lifting for about 1.5year and started cutting at 22% BF) I lift 4 times a week, and do 1 HIIT session of 30min and then 30min abs.

    I walk to school 3-4 times a week for about 20min every time. Is it “honest” to count this as cardio? Cause I really hate it haha and try to minimize it as much as I can ..

    And just wanted to let you know that for me your website is a BIBLE. There’s everything you need to know and I got all the answers I needed to improve my knowledge in lifting weights so THANK YOU 🙂 !

  • Shane Cahill

    Hi Mike! Great article. I follow a powerlifting style weights programme, and like to add some cardio just for fun really. I enjoy it. I also like to do the occasional obstacle race or fun run, so it’s good to have a baseline level of conditioning for that. I’m just wondering how best to put it all together? Right now I lift 3 times a week, and like to do 2 cardio sessions. What’s the best way to programme these? I’ve thought of doing cardio after weights as part of the same workout, and doing Mon, Wed, Fri, or lifting those days with cardio between, but that means the cardio might affect the lifts the next day? Maybe lift Mon, Tue, cardio Wed, off thurs, lift Fri, cardio Sat? What way do you recommend?

    Thanks for any advice you might give me! Great site! Keep up the good work!

    • Thanks, Shane!

      Cool on the kind of training you like to do. I recommend 3 days a week of weightlifting and 2-3 days a week of cardio. I also recommend doing them on separate days, but if you really want to do both weightlifting and cardio in one day, just make sure you do the weightlifting first.

      My pleasure. Hope this helps! LMK what you think.

      Thanks! Will do. 🙂

      • Shane Cahill

        Hi Mike, thank you for your reply and your advice. I think I will go with weights Mon,Wed, Fri, with a short explosive cardio after two of them. I’ll go for the extra rest days approach as my work is sort of like low intensity cardio all day long, walking around the countryside up and down hills!

  • Javier Farto

    Hey Mike, will it work doing cardio in the mornings and weight training at night?

  • Muhammed Ali Mazari

    Hi, I’m Ali, I’m 15, I’m 5’8 with a body weight of 136 pounds. I’ve been dieting and doing cardio for 7 months almost, I lost 110 pounds doing cardio and calorie deficits, but including all the cardio I did was 4 months out of 7, then after leaving the gym I started watching my diet, I took very few calories like only 2-3 apples, 3-4 litres of water and 4 cups of black coffee for 3 constant months and I took long walks with that as well of an hour or so only sometimes, and later I wanted to lose even more weight so I joined the gym again, did treadmill for 35-40min daily and walked-jogged for 4km, my weight was down to 76kg from 110 kg at that time, but time passed, I got so damn motivated lol and started doing double the cardio I was doing like doing 9km daily with the same apple and coffee diet, and that resulted in an injury of my patellar tendon, Well, then I left the gym and I couldn’t run well for a month or so, I started wearing an anklet, and then later I added a few things more to my diet like cottage cheese, low fat milk, low fat yoghurt, berries, and steamed beef or chicken, and finally accepted the fact that to lose weight, you gotta eat as well, so I’m following this new diet for a month or so, I slowly increased my intake from 400 calorie diet to 1100 calorie diet and now, it’s been 7 months and I really need a guide! I’m still increasing my calorie intake slowly to 1400 with adding lean meats, boiled eggs, veggies, fruits, fish. Now I’m at 61.6kg and a body fat percentage of 14% according to the calculators around, Now I think it’s the time to start gaining some more muscle and continue losing fat and reach a body fat percentage of 7% with great abs, chest and biceps, I really need your help with my diet though, and how many times I should do cardio in a week with my weight training? I think 50min of weight training and then 10 min of HIIT after weight training everyday would be great with a total calorie intake of 1400 that will help me reach my goal. Hope you take a look and reply, I loved your article mate.

  • Arun

    Hi Mike,

    I am Arun, 29 year, 5’10’ weigh around 170 lbs. I have been in and out of gym for past 2 years. I am regular gym goer since last 3 months and have lost 10 lbs of weight and brought my body fat down to 13.7% (as per omron fat loss monitor) from 18%.

    Last week I have added 20 mins of cardio to my workout schedule hoping to cut down my fat to single digits and started eating clean (2200 cals, 30% protein, 40% Carbs and 30% fat ). As per my fitness tracker (use fitbit charge HR), I expend around 2900 cal. so i have a deficit of around 700 cals. But I started feeling dizzy and my strength seems to have taken a hit. I have read a zillion article on this and still couldn’t figure out whats wrong with my routine. Hope you will help me out here.

    Regards,
    Arun

  • Dan

    Mike,

    Great article. Quick question. I’m about 3 weeks into my first cut (ever). I’m losing about 2 lbs per week with roughly a 500-700 calorie deficit, so I feel like I’m doing something right. However, I’ve been doing 40-50 mins of LISS after 60-90 minutes of moderate to intense weight lifting 5 days/week to give me a little more freedom with my diet. Is this ok? Am I losing fat or muscle? Do you recommend switching to like 20 mins HIIT each day? My energy levels seem fine, and I’m down about 6 lbs from 225, with an end goal of 190 lbs. I’d appreciate any input!

  • Oliver

    Hi! You write that the cardio sessions should be at 25 to 30 min at maximum but, how would the intervals be? Sprint 30 sec? 60? And rest 30? 60? 2 min? I’m a bit confused there..

  • Noah

    Hey Mike and Team,

    I am making good progress on BLS! 12 pounds and 4% off my body fat.
    Right now I am doing:

    – Mon: BLS
    – Tues: BLS
    – Wed: BLS / Bike HIIT (Shoulder day is faster than others, so I can fit in HIIT in the morning)
    – Thurs: BLS
    – Fri: BLS
    – Sat: LISS (No more than 30 Min, and try to run as fast as possible.)
    – Sun: Recumbent Bike HIIT/Stretch

    What do you think? Is it bad to do a workout like this everyday without a day off? I find I don’t have much more time than an hour or a bit more every morning to spend on training. After work time is spent with the family.

    Thanks!!

    • Hey Noah! Glad you’re rolling on BLS and getting results. Great job!

      That workout schedule looks great! That’s totally fine.

      Welcome!

  • Ashley

    WARNING LONG POST! SORRY UNINTENTIONAL
    Hey!
    First let me say I love your newsletter and all the straight forward cut the BS information you give in your articles!
    I am glad you wrote this one when you did because I was just about to add extra cardio to my workout because I wanted to loose faster…like exactly what you said people do! 🙂
    So my current routine is as follows with 25 minutes HIIT (which I was doing before my routine, but will start doing after as ya noted in your article! never thought of that as a factor!)
    Mon: Arms & Abs
    Tues: Legs & Butt
    Wed: Chest & Back
    Thur: Arms & Abs
    Fri: Legs & Butt
    Sat: Yoga and HIIT
    Sun: Chest & Back
    I just wanted to see what ya thought of that layout. And more importantly wanted your advice on something. So my bf (who is super supportive of me becoming more fit) but doesn’t care personally if I do or don’t. I am 5’3 and 143 pounds. Have a pretty good amount of muscle in my legs (not sure why) but I have been told that and it is apparent. But I know my BF% is high (nearly 38%) I have always been chubby (near 200ibs) even as a teen but really focused on my health and fitness that I eventually was 124 ibs and size 3 and felt amazing, but then a family death of someone really close happened then I gained to 165ish and size 11 and recently lost weight and am at that 143 and size 7 or 9. I have a ways to go to get back to how fit I once was, BUT I find it hard because the first time I lost weight I was single and lived on my own. Now I have been with my bf 2 years and show him pictures of how I used to be and while he says he loves me either way he says he thinks it is silly to care so much (of course he eats like a garbage disposal and is really petite (size 29 mens) and short so he never listens when I stress how bad he eats because his body isn’t punishing him yet even health wise so that is another topic BUT I was curious how ya think I should keep my motivation up those days when he wants to order pizza or go out to eat and says he hates that I don’t wanna go out to restaurants or have couples night with beer and pizza because he used to love that about me. Sometimes I find it hard having to make 2 separate dinners and always see his junk food and soda in the fridge and in my moments of female cravings I find it hard to resist giving in and then when I do it puts me in a funk and I stop working out for a week or so and then start all over again. The first time I lost weight single I lost it in less than 5 months and now I am so off focus and have so many temptations that I have only lost 20 ibs in 2 years because I stop and restart so much!
    any advice on how to fight off those cravings during those weak moments and how to stay motivated when sometimes I have to choose between spending time with my bf or working out (he refuses to go with me to the gym and we both work 2 jobs)….

    • Hey Ashley! Yikes it is long, haha.

      Any chance you could shoot me an email with your questions? This is a bit much to answer over comments.

      Shoot me an email though, and I’d be happy to answer your questions. 🙂

  • Kev

    Hey, I know this probably isn’t the right site to ask, but I have large leg muscles (especially my quads) even without working them out. The size of my legs are almost entirely due to the muscle, as when I tense my quadriceps, there is almost no fat to pinch around them. The problem is that I’d like to tone them down a little so I can get the proportions between my upper body and lower body right. I don’t want to become even bigger on my upper body, as I want to avoid a stocky look (I’m only 5’10; becoming even wider will make me look like an absolute midget). Would doing cardio while maintaining a heart rate of around 80% for about 30 minutes, 3~4 times a week help? My legs grow rapidly in response to plyometric/explosive exercise, and this is counterproductive to what I want.

    • No worries! I hear you.

      Sure, some steady state cardio could definitely help. For the ultimate muscle loss routine, you could do fasted steady state cardio without any pre-workout supplementation to fight muscle loss, haha.

  • Wayne Carlton

    I have been exercising for about 2 years both with weight and cardio have lost about 40 lbs and have put on a good amt of muscle. I just stated using your 5 day work out ie 1st day chest 2ed day back day 3 arms day 4 shoulder and day 5 legs. I still would like to drop about 15 lbs so how much and when should i be doing high-intensity cardio.. I am 6″1′ at around 230 lbs

  • 溫宇謙

    Hi mike, I’ve been following BLS for fat loss for a while.
    5’9 160lbs around10%bf(not quite sure, pics below)
    Just really can’t squeeze any time for HIIT, but I’ve been trying to walk as much as I can.
    Is it still possible for me to keep losing fat? And should I recalculate my TDEE according to the fact that I can’t do HIIT?
    Thanks for your help!

    • Nice! You look great. Yep, 10% BF sounds about right.

      Yes, you can definitely still continue to lose fat. You’ll just need to lower your intake accordingly and/or increase your activity level with weightlifting and/or walking (since you can’t do HIIT). This will be good to keep in mind:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      Nope, no need to recalculate your TDEE unless of course your activity level has changed.

      My pleasure! LMK how it goes.

  • Mariana

    Hi Mike! I’m on the 5-day split of phase 2 of your TLS one year challenge and I’m just trying to lose that last bit of abdominal fat. I am on your 1500 calorie 40 protein/40 carb/30 fat breakdown and I am struggling having enough energy to do 20 min of HIIT after my lifting workouts. I am wondering if the cardio breakdown I’m doing is effective to lose fat without being overly fatigued: after lifting, do 20 min HIIT and LISS on alternating days. How long do you suggest the LISS to be- 20 mins? 30? also on my pure cardio day, do you suggest HIIT or LISS and how long should it be?

    • Hi Mariana,
      I recommend splitting your weights and HIIT into two different sessions on the same day. That will give you more time to recover so that your HIIT session will be more productive. You could really toss the LISS and stick with just HIIT. 25-30min HIIT is enough on your pure cardio day.

  • Brian Fernandes

    Hey Mike just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for all the time and effort you must’ve taken to research and write all the articles on your site… being completely honest and not over exaggerating they have changed my life!

    I’m 19, weigh 61kgs and height being 172cm. I used the TDEE calculator and found my TDEE to be 2000 and therefore at a 25% deficit cut would put me at 1500cal. Macros being C:P:F 40:40:20 and i make it a point to get atleast 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight…i also work a one body part a day workout lifting 5 days a week

    Just have a doubt about cardio… if for example i were to eat out for social reasons can I do an extra 500 calories of LISS cardio prior to that to increase my daily budget for the day?
    Another question is if i were to go above my daily intake by 500 on one day… could i do 500 calories worth of liss cardio the next day keeping intake the same? Would I lose muscle by doing this? Also what is the maximum amount of liss cardio i could do along with a weight lifting workout?

    I know not to trust cardio machine calorie counters and that it would be way easier to just stick to my diet… but there are just some days where you just can’t help but go over… and doing this would give me some sort of psychological relief that I’ve sort of cancelled out those calories in a way

    • Hey Brian,

      Thanks for the kind words and support. Mike really appreciates it!

      I know you like LISS cardio, but I strongly suggest doing HIIT instead. You’ll torch fat much more efficiently in half the time (25min is a solid session, if done right). You can still incorporate LISS, but make HIIT your bread and butter. Combined with HIIT, an hour of LISS is all you’d need in a week.

      Theoretically, yes. You can balance out calorie intake with calorie expenditure.

  • Laura Couto

    Hey Mike! I have a question. I’m a female martial artist (yingzhaoquan and sanshou) in my late 20s, and I’ve always been naturally lean, though I have some difficulty building muscle. I’d like to put some focus on muscle building outside of my MA training to increase strike power and grip strength, but after reading this article I’m a bit worried that the amount of cardiovascular exercise I do during MA practice might be affecting my muscle gains. I practice 4 times a week, most of it consisting of punching, kicking, grappling, tumbling, etc. Do you think this will negatively affect my capacity to build muscle?

    Thank you very much, I’ve been reading the website for a few days and I throughly enjoy it.

  • Kwstas Peri

    Hey mike nice and really helpful article.i have a question that concerns my body .i stopped my diet program 3 months ago went from 102 to 85 kgs and i have been working out the gym lately weights only and i am following the “gaining muscle” food routine .so the problem is i still got some body fat left and its mostly in my hips .my question, is the consistent training and food routine going to tighten my muscles and burn that remaining fat or do i need some aerobic too? Im a bit confused i hope you can recommend some ideas.. thanks !!

    • Hey Kwstas,

      If you are on a “gaining muscle” or bulking diet, you will not burn that fat. To burn fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit from a cutting diet.

  • Mark Canlas

    If you’re gonna do fasted cardio, is HIIT still the better option than LISS?

  • G.J.

    Very good article and has sources for the statements it makes. Very well done.

  • Wil

    Im willing to do weights 3 times a week.
    and cardio everyday, 40 minutes perday to lose some weist/hips fat, the rest of by body does not have fat.

    is it okay? im including in my diet carbohidrates and proteins.

    thank you mate. good article.:)

  • Gjina Dawson

    I started doing a HIIT workout on my elliptical recently. It lasts only 20 minutes but It’s very intense.. I want to lose belly fat as fast as possible. How often should I do this cardio to see results? P.s. I’m 16 years old, weight 68 kg and am 1.75cm tall.

    Thank you!!!

    • Hi Gjina, That’s great! Combined with a solid weight training routine, all you need is 3x a week or no more than 1.5hrs/week.

  • Mindy Young Cutler

    Hi. I love HIIT and was doing a 25 minutes workouts 4-5 days a week and body weight to low weight strength exercises 4-5 days a week. I would always do one or both in the mornings in a fasted state. I lost 13 percent of my body weight in one month as I cut back sugar, went lower carb than I normally do, ate lots of veggies and tried to get my protein with eggs, chicken, flax and powder. I had blood work done and my AST liver enzymes were really high. I don’t drink and don’t take tylenol etc. I am thinking it has to be due to muscle depletion, maybe fasted workouts, maybe not fueling enough after my workouts. I have looked into your products and read articles to see how to best help my situation. Need some advice for workouts, fasted or not and products. Thanks!

  • Jenny

    Hi Mike! What are your views on additional walking (helpful or counterproductive)?

    My current weekly routine includes 3 days of weight training and 3 days of HIIT cardio (I’m doing the 22 Minute Hard Corps program- https://www.beachbody.com/product/fitness_programs/22-minute-hard-corps-workout.do). Additionally, I power walk (around 4.0-4.5 mph) for 30 minutes per day and it includes some stair climbing (I do this on my lunch break). I’m wondering if the walking is too much?

    I used to do too much LISS cardio and actually gained weight around my midsection- my doctor suspected I had been storing too much cortisol due to the LISS- ugh. I just don’t want to fall back into that habit again but I feel guilty if I don’t do the additional walking- I’m not losing weight and feel like 22 minutes per day is not “enough”. Do I feel this way because we’ve been conditioned to think more is better or because I really should be doing more?

  • KANHU CHARAN NATH

    Hi myself from India , height 5.11 ft, was weighed 92kg when i joined Zym 6 months back and now 83 kg but I move on indoor cycle for 25 minutes and 40 minutes on
    Cross trainer followed by some wightlifting on weekdays except Sunday .
    I do first cardio then weight lifting .
    Please advise me is it good or bad or what I do to make muscle along with skinny

    • That’s great you joined a gym and are training hard. I strongly recommend weight lifting first, then the cardio. Make weight training the focus of your workouts and cardio as the supplement.

      Take a look at this:
      https://legionathletics.com/skinny-fat/
      https://legionathletics.com/body-recomposition/

      • KANHU CHARAN NATH

        But let me know how much time i consume on weight n how much on cardio

        • With the BLS/TLS program, you should be spending about an hour in the weight room per session, if not less. HIIT cardio 25min sessions 3x a week.

          • KANHU CHARAN NATH

            Thanks but if u go for first cardio then weight lifting , any problem. ….

            Please answer

          • If you do cardio first, you’re burning up your energy and as a results, your weight training will suffer because you won’t be able to lift at the same intensity compared to if you did weights first.

          • KANHU CHARAN NATH

            But Please tell me that how much time i do HIIT cardio on Cross trainer and indoor cycling .

          • 25min HIIT sessions 3x a week is great.

          • KANHU CHARAN NATH

            But some warm up required for weightlifting n i think by doing cardio first it serve two purpose first warm up and secondly itself cardio exercise, furthermore I don’t feel tired up in weightlifting after cardio and smoothly doing weightlifting exercise after cardio.
            Is it ok with me or not.

            Please advise me

          • Warm up is required for cardio as well from a cold start. Cardio will not warm you up properly for weight training. Warm up the muscle group with this sequence for weights:
            1. 10 reps at 50% set weight
            2. 10 reps at 50% set weight
            3. 4 reps at 70%
            4. 1 rep at 90%
            Rest 1 min between each.

            If you’re lifting heavy, there will be a difference in performance after 65min of cardio as you describe VS weights first. That is why we recommend cardio after weights.

          • KANHU CHARAN NATH

            Ok
            I again seek guidance incase of any issue

          • No problem! Happy to help.

          • KANHU CHARAN NATH

            Now
            I do cardio followed by weightlifting
            But I m not feeling tired and feel comfortable.
            Is it ok ?

          • Sure! By the way, try out one of these routines in the 8-10 rep range where the 11th rep is too difficult to do.

            http://www.muscleforlife.com/muscle-building-workout/

          • KANHU CHARAN NATH

            8 10 rep range
            I don’t understand
            Please tell me details

          • You lift a weight 8-10 times. The 11th rep is too hard to do so you have to stop at 10.

  • Janelle

    I’m so confused with how much to be eating. I’m currently 125 lbs, 5″7, 30 year old female. Goal is to lean my thighs and butt while toning and building muscle overall. Suggestions? I’m currently lifting weights 4 times a week, as well as mixing HIIT, walking, pilates, and other styles making me working out for 6 days. Any advice or articles u think could help me out? Much appreciated.

    • Sure, Janelle! Check out these articles to help you set your calorie and macro targets:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/
      https://legionathletics.com/how-to-calculate-body-fat/

    • Cassie H Cowell

      Firstly how long have you been on this exercise routine? Weight-loss is gradual and doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes when you start you actually gain a bit of weight as your muscles retain more water.

      A waste-hip ratio can be a better measure than actual mass. Because if you are building muscle that will increase your body mass but not body fat.

      Ensure your weight training is well balanced with generally more emphasis on the legs, e.g. squats, lunges, but some upper body too. And ensure you are lifting enough weight to make it challenging.

      With regards to diet, it is often a matter of changing the foods or amounts of each food. More of the healthier stuff and less of the unhealthy stuff (without necessarily cutting it out completely).

  • Veronica Mendez

    I need some guidance i been walking/jogging for about a week and a half now I usually do 3 or 4 miles a day it takes me about an hour to complete or a bit less, before I do my cardio I have a snack since I do my cardio before the sun rises. After my cardio I been following this lower body strength challenge (such as: squats,lunges, etc) and each day it increases the amount I’m supposed to do. Will I see results if I continue the way I am doing it? By the time I’m done with my cardio I’m very tired to do squats so I take a lot of rest in between.

  • Gerardo Amezquita

    Would it be effective to do two cardio sessions of HIIT on the same day? I’m wondering because I’m trying to get in my 1.5-2 hours/week of cardio in but there are some days I simply cannot.

  • Ramon

    Im doing way toomuch cardio. 45 min of spinning everyday.
    Just what is HIIT? I may switch to this if I only need three times a week at 25min. Is it running, spinning or what?

  • Ramon

    Mike and the gang,
    I’m about half way done reading your book. Very informative btw so far. This maybe silly to ask but do you weigh your food? Do I need a scale to measure what I eat. I’m really considering trying your teachings. I’m a vegetarian and having a hardest time gaining weight. Currently, I weigh 134 lbs 48 years young. I worked out 3 to 4 days a week and spin everyday which I’m planning to cut to 3 days doing HIIT instead. I’m lean but I’d like to gain more weight and hopefully put on more muscles

  • PB

    Hi!

    I currently do cardio and weights 6x a week, whether im cutting or maintaining but I would like to cut back on the cardio so that my body doesnt adapt and I could potentially have it as a tool later, but i don’t want to reduce my cardio and gain fat! what should I do should I reverse out of it to decrease it? Will i gain fat? Also, I have been cutting at 1450 cals for 6 weeks (Im 5’7 and like 133lbs)- 1.2g of P per lb, 1g of carb, and .3 of fat and I don’t see THAT much of a difference in my physique and i feel STARVING all the time. What am I doing wrong??

    • PB

      btw I have read every article and listened to every podcast and don’t know what else to do
      Thanks so much for all you do!

      • Have you double checked your calorie and macro targets? How many days of HIIT are you doing? How many days of weights? What’s your body fat %?

        Being hungry is pretty normal on a cut, and you can fix this by drinking more water and eating bulky foods high in fiber and water content to give it more volume in the stomach.

        Also, you’ve probably read this already, but bet honest as you go through it:

        http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

        If you’re not losing weight, it’ll ultimately come down to one thing: too much energy in, not enough going out.

        • PB

          I do 4 days of hiit and 2 of steady state every week. last week i did 3 of hiit and 2 of steady state because i don’t want to do 6x of cardio a week like I’ve been doing for years but i don’t know how to get out of it without gaining weight. I do weights 6x a week, im 133 pounds and last time i checked my body fat it was 19% (Im a woman). My macros are currently 130g of carbs, 154g of protein, and 35g of fat. The fat is what I have most problems with so if I go over I try to makeup with another macro and still stay within 100 cals of my target.

          • On paper, it looks great! So it’ll come down to how you’re tracking. Is everything accounted for? Looking at the right references? (ie. cooked vs raw, serving sizes)

            Be sure to use the article as a checklist to trouble-shoot!

  • Rick Mihalovits

    Ive been doing interval training every day for 3 weeks now, and i’m seeing results, but is that too much? Should I back it off to every other day and do strength training on the alternate days?

  • Rei

    Hi Mike! I would like to ask you a question about my cardio routine. I’m 5’1 (157cm) and 103 pounds aprox. (47kg), I’m naturally lean, but want to get rid of that abdominal stubborn fat I have since I was a little child (I’m 28, it’s really stubborn). I train 4 times a week, and do cardio just twice (cardio and crunches, as my abdominal skin is very loose), it really bores me, I prefer lifting weights. My question is if I can use my dancing class as cardio, it is a 1hour advanced hip-hop and latin dance, so I end up really tired. Or what would you recommend?, the fat that bothers me so much is on the sides of my abs and on my lower back. Thank you very very much!

  • alexandra

    Hi. I’m a 19 year old female, 5’3.5, ~125-130lbs, and i turned away from distance runner junkie life about six months ago. i have more muscle than before and im slowly trying to get rid of belly fat (the only place where i have much fat on my body). does this seem like too much exercise?

    heavy lifting ~3 times per week, crossfit 2-3 times per week, hill sprints or sled conditioning work 1-2 times per week, and most days i try to walk my dog a few miles

  • Black Shooter01

    So how do all the body builders have such low levels of fat and cut physiques if they dont do any cardio, just by lifting weights and controlling their diet? I am a bit confused. I have read this alot that too much cardio is not good and can lead to muscle loss but i get very confused when i see all the mma fighters who have ripped muscular physiques but also do cardio exercises to burn fat and increase their endurance and stamina. How many times do you recommend we should do cardio in a week.

    • A lot of it is diet, yes, and minimal cardio. Same for the MMA fighters. When cutting, cap your cardio at 2-2.5hrs/week. When bulking, 2-3 30min sessions tops.

  • Beau Beau

    This is a crock of sh*t. Heaven forbid if people do cardio exercises. What you’re suggesting is that it’s useless. (And what are you? Under 30?) Let the youngins pretend their way is the correct way. Talk to me in 10 years. #byefelecia

  • Cassie H Cowell

    Whenever you read articles like this on a site that is trying to sell you something, you always have to beware.

    I do believe that to be healthy, you have to combine a good exercise routine and a good diet. And a good exercise routine is a mix of different types of exercise, some cardio, some weights.

    Exercise increases your metabolic rate and decreases blood sugar and can reduce blood pressure. These are good things. How much exercise? Enough to achieve those things.

    Of course, if your real aim is success in some sporting event, e.g. you want an Olympic Gold Medal at something, you need to train a lot harder. The aim there though is to win a sporting event, not health or weight-loss.

    • Thanks for the comment but did you read the article?

  • Leon Vincent

    Wait ounce a week? I do 2 hour cardio everyday is that bad?

  • joshua read

    Hey Mike, I’ve been following your program with a great deal of success so thank you for that! I’m doing your 5-day split with HIIT cardio 3-4 times weekly and am in a cutting phase. Shortly before starting with BLS i was measured at 24.3% BF and was around 188 pounds, I’ve just started week six of phase 1 and i weighed in at 179 pounds. Based on accumeasure I appear to be around 18-19% (several people have suggested that number seems high). What I am wondering is how long it will reasonably take to reach 10% BF. I’m roughly 20-25% below TDEE for my food intake and weight loss is mainly consistent. I realize its hard to throw out a number because everyone is different but i’m trying to get a general idea (I’m trying to avoid being in a deficit for too long) Also, how likely do you think it is that I’ll hit a plateau trying to reach 10% and thus require a refeed. Thanks for all that you do.

    • Happy to hear it! My pleasure. 🙂

      As you said, it will vary person to person, but with proper training and dieting, you should be able to reach 10% BF in around 10-12 weeks.

      Feel free to stay in a deficit for as long as it takes to reach your BF% goal unless you hit BMR and aren’t getting results. In that case, you should RD:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/reverse-diet/

      Welcome! Talk soon.

  • Ehloha

    Hey mike i have been doing 30 minutes steady state cardio 3 times a week usually just run 20 minutes at a 7.5 and amp it up to a 8 for the last 10 minutes on a teadmill. I think i am starting to get skinny fat because i quit lifting for awhile and my body must have got use to me doing only cardio. I want to get back into lifting but my question is when i start lifting again should i continue doing my same cardio because i had good results when i was lifting with that cardio regimen. Or should i try to do hit cardio 3 times a week on the treadmill i found a hit cardio treadmill session on that requires you to run at max incline with a speed that challenges you to run hard 20 seconds on 30 seconds off. I tried it once and that was actually very hard for me i think it lasted for about 15 minutes or so with a added 5 minute warm up walk but it was hard and i dont know if i could last 25-30 minutes… What could i do about that? If you have any better options for hit cardio on a treadmill let me know. Would be awesome if you got back to me thanks!

  • Samuel

    hey mike, unlike you i do bodyweight training and i love it! i also enjoy running and compete in track. i, in fact, made it to state championship in the 800m this past spring. 🙂 track season begins sometime in february or march, and i want to train for it so i can return to state track! during this time ill be doing bodyweight workout routines. should i include running and HITT?

    • Great! That’s pretty awesome you’re competing at that level. In addition to bodyweight workout routines, I recommend that you still continue your track training and include HIIT in there if that gives you a competitive edge.

  • Flippant God (The Godster)

    I disagree to a on intensity interval cardio. While it is true that an hour doing walking or doing under 70% of your max running pace will do more harm then good. Maintaining 15 minutes of the 80%-90% Range after a workout is efficient when used with resistance training. The trick is to carefully balance your protein and carb intake.

    While alternating between sprints and walking is fine. That isn’t always what an individual wants to train for. An example is training for a 5k run. You might start out at a 6.5mph for 20 minutes. Then slowly raise that by 0.3-0.5 Mph every 2 weeks. Allowing you to peak at 8mph-8.5mph over a course of 2-3 months.

    Furthermore you can burn 300-500 Calories in 20 minutes once you hit that point. If you take in around 2200-3200 calories a day(Depending on your Weight/Height/Age etc) in healthy foods(Eggs, Fish, Low fat dairy, Oats, Wheat Bread and keep things like soda infrequent) You will start to see and feel differences within a couple months. Remember your body burns off roughly 1700-2200 Calories a day naturally during a general day assuming you aren’t on the couch 24/7.

    • Thanks for the comment.

      You might find this interesting regarding diet:

      https://legionathletics.com/macronutrient-calculator/

    • Tamara

      What if you have a high neat activity like walking lot during the day but not formally on a machine. How do you factor that into the equation here?

      • In my experience, walking 4hours/day on top of training clients at the gym, it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. I actually don’t even count it, and only include weights+hiit into the weekly activity estimate. Based on how my weight and BF% moves, I then adjust my cals.

  • sakib800

    Hello,
    I have a question
    If im fasted training with my cardio, wont it help if im not doing HIIT becasue HIIT (like sprinting all out) requires lots of energy and doesnt it mainly burn carbs instead of stored body fat? If i do fasted training but keep my heart rate to 60-75% for around 35 minutes wont it help more since, i am mainly burning fat instead of Carbs and i am not like being too exhausted since i am also lowering calories on the diet side

    I say this because if i do HIIT like treadmill sprints i find myself getting exhausted within 15 minutes

  • Rocky

    Hi Mike, lately I’ve been experimenting with going on long walks in the morning while fasting. It’s a form of cardio I really enjoy and can stick to. I go for a 4 mile walk just about every day (which burns around 450 calories). Some days I’ll even do an 8 or 10 mile walk (perhaps to offset some indulgences the previous night).

    My question is, aside from the time it takes to walk that much, are there any drawbacks to this approach? For instance you say don’t do too much cardio or it could interfere with your ability to recover from your workouts — to what extent does that apply to walking? Like is walking really in the same camp as jogging or other forms of steady-state cardio? Thanks!

    • Nah, it isn’t. You can get away with a LOT more walking. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/cardio-workouts/

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Rocky

        Really great article! ..and not just because it validates everything I was hoping to be true 😀

        As an aside, I’ve learned so much from your articles and books and really appreciate how much time you spend helping others.

        • Haha that’s great. Glad you’re enjoying the content and learning a lot. Thanks for the support!

  • wisdomfromthegalaxy.com

    Do you have nothing better to do than watch and judge fat people at the gym??? It is people like you that discourage fat people from exercising outside the home …..Did it ever occur to you that people have reasons for exercising other than weight loss? Overall health? Fun? Heart health? Cancer Prevention? The only reason we have gyms in this culture is due to cars and modern appliances and desk jobs…..Exercise is meant to be simple and fun- while I respect your efforts, to a point, this is far too complicated. I have been working out daily since I was 15 years old and I am 48. I am on the heavy side and like myself the way I am, I am in great shape, look like a 30 year old, have perfect colesterol levels, and an ideal BP. I like working out and I feel especially great when I can participate in outdoor activities like hiking, ocean swimming, horse back rising, kayaking, ect. .

    • sakib800

      Woah woah woah dude. This man has helped thousands of people achieve their dream physique. he isn’t out to judge anyone. He encouraged and changed more peoples lives than you can imagine. So before you judge someone like that maybe you should get to know them more…

  • Dan

    I’ve found I don’t have time for cardio most of the time, doing the 4 day split on BLS, kids, work, commute, etc. Anyway, what I do is start HIIT sessions (running usually) when I’m a week away from cutting to get my body ready, then get 3/wk x 30min while cutting (usually on the weekends and one day off). Cuts are unpleasant, but I think my body gets too conservative without something pretty much everyday (HIIT or weights). Can usually get 2-3 lbs/wk loss that way. Also try to plan my cuts to start in a deload week, to ease into it a bit. But even without regular cardio, my resting pulse stays around 60-65, so seems to be ok. I also do HIIT when planning an endurance activity like long backpacking or 10k runs, usually find I can get in shape pretty quickly.

    • Great! Sounds like you’ve got a great system down for your schedule.

  • Sofia

    Hi Mike,

    When you say 3-4 25-to-30 minute sessions of high intensity interval cardio per week, are you saying we should be doing 25-30 mins of solely HIIT? or that our entire workout should be 25-30 minutes including weights? I ask because, if we do 24-30 mins HIIT on the treadmill for example, would that not be considered too much cardio?

  • sambhav jain

    I want to know that like basically HIIT is working out on treadmill or combination of treadmill and bike for like 25-30 mins each day?
    And doing weightlifting separately?

  • Great article and it lets me no I am on the right track. I love this Blog post.

  • Brett McMillin

    Hey Mike, thanks for everything you do. Love your articles. But I have a question. I just started doing HIIT cardio about 2 months ago to lose weight. I do about 4 sessions or so a week. I do 2 sessions on both my upper body days after I workout, and then usually 2 more on the rest days or when I can fit it in. But after 2 months, I still can only do about 15 minutes and I’m beat. I do them on a treadmill at 30 seconds on (7.0-7.5 speed) and then 30 seconds walk (4.0 speed). Since you recommend 25-30 minutes, should I do another 15 minutes worth later on in the day? What would be your professional opinion. Thank you.

    • My pleasure! Glad you’re enjoying them. 🙂

      Instead of adding another HIIT session later in the day, let’s do 30 seconds at high intensity and then 60 seconds at low intensity. That should enable you to do 20-30 minutes of HIIT at a time.

      Thoughts?

      • Brett M.

        Yes sir, I can try that. I just thought 1:2 ratio wasn’t as good as a 1:1. When I mean good, I mean as good toward fat burning.

        • You can start with 1:2, and progress towards 1:1 as your conditioning improves.

          • Brett M.

            Quick question. I pulled a groin 2 months ago but I’m all healed now. I’m trying to get stronger while burning the little fat left also. Your book says 2-3, 25 minute HIIT sessions a week. But I usually only do 4-6 intervals, at 30-second each work/rest; that total being around 10-15 minutes. Should I still only do 2-3 sessions at the 10-15 mins or can I do more to where it equals your plan of 75 mins.

          • Glad to hear you’re all healed now. You’ll have faster results with your cut if you increase the duration of your HIIT sessions, and increase the frequency as needed if your fat loss is slowing down.

  • Good morning Mike and the gang,

    You mentioned somewhere (can’t remember where) not to mix cardio and weight training in the same workout, to space them a few hours apart. Makes sense: (1) mixing your workouts confuses the body and (2) doing one would decrease the energy left over for the other and, therefore, the effectiveness. But also mentioned was that walking is so low impact that it wouldn’t negatively affect any muscle growth. So immediately after a weight-training session, would it be okay to do some brisk walking, like 30-60 minutes of 4.0-to-4.5-mph walking? Or would that negatively affect my muscle growth? I wouldn’t do this before weights because I want to use all my efforts in weights (I’d walk right after my postworkout meal), but I wouldn’t mind squeezing out the last few bits of energy into a good walk. Just wondering if I should or if I should save walking for later.

    Thanks!

    • Heyo! Yeah, the walking is fine. Enoy!

    • confusing the body? what does this mean?

      • I read somewhere that the body won’t know what to do with all that training. Should it build muscle a la strength training? Should it burn fat (and muscle) a la cardio? It gets confused. I read that somewhere, and (I *think*) it was one of Mike’s articles. But it was a while ago, so the details are hazy.

        • Body and the muscles will take whatever you throw at it. We don’t combine cardio and weights because doing them back to back can negatively impact the other’s performance.

          That being said, if due to scheduling issues, one (longer) gym sessions is all you can do, then doing HIIT after weights is fine since it’s better than no HIIT. Just don’t do HIIT or LISS cardio before weights or you’re wear yourself out too much for the lifting.

    • Hi Mike and gang, I totally forgot about this question from a few months ago! But I’d still love to hear your thoughts if you have the time. Thanks!

  • Marian Boricean

    Hi Mike. Yes, is clear that HIIT is far superior to low intensity steady state. But I have a question: do I jeopardize my muscle maintaining if I choose to do low intensity for 60 minutes instead of HIIT for 25 minutes? Sometimes I enjoy more a 60 minutes run outside, on the beach or on a mountain trail, than grunting through a high intensity workout. I guess question is: “is a 60 minutes low intensity good enough for my cardio routine without losing muscle?”

    • Nope, you don’t. As long as you’ve had 20-40g of protein within a couple hours of doing the cardio or have taken BCAAs, leucine or HMB if you’re training fasted, you’re good!

  • Rodrigo

    Hi mike. Great article. I need some help, I like to do my weight training fasted in the morning and to do HIIT after that seems a lot for me (to perform fasted), I tried to do HIIT fasted but faced muscle loss. So what time do you think is the best to do the cardio with high intensity? And what to eat before it?
    Thanks!

  • sakib800

    Some times i feel that my bouts of all out intensity is just mediocre intensity Lmao.

    If i feel that way, can i do like 35-40 minutes of HIIT without doing like 25-30 minutes?

  • Kim

    I consider myself an extreme case of falling victim overexercise & have paid the price bigtime. Have never met anyone like myself nor have I had the proper coaching. Knowledge is power & reading your article has made me realize less is more. It so very hard to retrain my thinking. I have a lot of knowledge but need to accept change. I need to convince myself that i can lose a few pounds just doing less cardio. I’ve had a mind & body disconnect for at least 6 years now. Have had multiple injuries & physical therapy & still working out through it all. Just having a professional to talk to to help me find balance is what i need. I was working out to eat & over indulging eatting more a ton of calories & repeating the process. I will self destruct if I don’t fix myself. I dont have rest days because im always thinking I need to burn the overindulgence my body took in from past week of overexercising. Its a vicious cycle that put me in a league of my own. I must connection mind & body asap & retrain my thinking.

    • That’s great, Kim! Glad to hear the article helped.

  • Rach Jones

    Hi Mike,

    First of all, thanks for writing your TLS book – it’s really changed how I view food and exercise. I spent my entire adult life swinging from eating 600 cals a day and being slim to eating my way to a BMI of 30. I’d swing between these extremes sometimes several times a year! Crash dieting for my wedding last year was the final straw and by the time I tied the knot I had the metabolism of a sloth. Once I started eating I put on 2 stone in 6 weeks xD Impressive no?

    I read your book and decided to give myself brain and body a break from ‘dieting’ and focus on building some muscle and getting strong for the first time ever. Hired a female bodybuilder trainer and been training 4 times a week for a year now! I never thought I’d have any kind of visible muscles but my shoulders are definitely on their way! Also I definitely raise a few eyebrows these days with my pretty decent deadlift weight 🙂 I view food now as fuel for my workouts, cook everything from scratch and I’ve never been healthier or stronger. So thanks!

    However I do want to cut some fat as most of my new muscles are still very buried! My weight has stayed about the same – though ofc I’ve lost a bit of fat and gained some lean. I’ve been doing fasted cardio in the mornings, sometimes I then have a breakfast smoothie (oats, greek yog, almond milk, berries, protein powder) and then do my training. Other days I just do one or the other. After training I always have some protein, creatine and dextrose. I always train at 6am in the morning – I feel fine at that time, in the evenings I’m good for nothing! I can train fasted or not, doesn’t affect my performance

    I’m not convinced my morning cardio is very effective (I’m a software developer and bit obsessed with efficiency!). I’ve been considering switching it up and doing cardio after my weight training instead. My weight sessions are usually about 45 minutes. I would do about 30 mins of intervals on the cross trainer.

    My question is (drumroll) how do I fit BCAA/protein shake/breakfast shake into this setup. I thought maybe BCAA during and after weight training, then the cardio and then breakfast shake including protein.

    I’m excited to finally be messaging you after reading your book so much and your podcast is great too. Do you have any other advice based on what I’ve said above?

    Thanks so much for everything!

    • Hey hey! Take BCAA prior to your fasted workout in the morning. No need after that, unless you’re going to do your weights fasted.

  • Brandon Dedic

    Hey mike, I am pretty happy with my leg size and so I’ve dropped pretty much all leg training. I currently only do about 15 minutes of hiit on an upright bike (just enough resistance to peddle against)… will the bike put additional mass on my legs? If it does should I switch to something like jump rope?

  • sakib800

    i dont think im doind HIIT correctly, my calories burned in 20 minutes turn out to be like about 150-160.

    How low intense should the low intensity be?

    plus should i increase resistance on low intensity or decrease it.

    i know for the high intense period your resistance has to be lowered so you go fast and hard.

  • Jonathan Riley

    You don’t need to call people fat.. At least they are at the gym trying to become healthy, whether successful or not in weight loss. I’m speaking of those same faces you mention on the same elliptical machines every time you go to the gym. At least they are not sitting at home on the couch eating chips and watching tv and drinking Pepsi. This is why overweight people do not like going to the gym. Because they get looked at and people like you affect their self esteem. I go 4 days a week. I’m in decent shape but still found your comments rude and distasteful. Bye

    • I completely agree, and honestly you’re reading a bit too much into my words. The only point I was making is cardio alone isn’t all that great for losing weight.

    • bulibasa

      Jonathan Rileyis so right! Mike Matthews Your comments are really rude!

  • Amanda

    Hey Mike – I’m short on time in the morning and lifting 5 days a week through your program. Is it just as effective to do 10-15 mins of hiit after I lift 5x week rather than a 25 or 30 mins session? Is it cumulative for the week or is there something special about 25 mins of hiit in a row. Thanks!
    Amanda

  • Jon

    Hi Mike,

    I am 50, I do 4 sessions, 4 days a week, 30 minutes precisely each session and I burn exactly 620 calories on each session. I eat quite healthy, meat but lean meat and vegetables, olive oil 2-3 slices of organic whole meal pitta bread daily and I also eat monkey nuts instead of popcorn when watching films, I am also out working almost every day, on foot, my job is really cool, I rarely stay in the office so I am on the move all the time. So I generally feel excellent and I do not want to grow muscles, just want to stay healthy. When I go to the gym the second day I feel amazing. I don’t feel my body, is light as a feather. If I don’t go to the gym one or two days I feel really guilty and the second day I also start to feel, I would say not that energized. I am worried that I do too much for my age, should I change anything?

  • Ralph Anthony Espos

    Yoi!

    I have just started to get into exercise (probably out of the holiday-impulse). Currently, I have the body of a typical overweight man (splendidly large love-handles and belly, enough sagging fat in the chest to be mistaken for a woman in B-cup). My goal is to build muscle and strength but lose just enough fat (somewhere in between “built-fat” and “bear”).

    I’m still reading few materials (like yours) so I know how to do my work-out while doing it on a budget (not enough money to opt for a gym membership; using household stuff, an old dumbbell, and wrapped weights instead). By now (after reading this article), I have modified my plan into daily cardio but alternating intensities (low-high-low-high-…). As for weight training, I’ve realigned it to days when I do low intensity cardio (So, WT-none-WT-none-…).

    Is my plan OK considering my goals? Also, other commenters, help me out. Thanks!

    • Ralph Anthony Espos

      Low-intensity: doing long brisk walks for around three-quarters of an hour
      High-intensity: alternating between stationary jogging, jumping jacks, and other stuff, and practicing dance moves

      Or… wait, am I getting the wrong idea here, too?

    • You can still do weight training on the days you do HIIT cardio. That’s no issue. Totally fine if you want to align it with LISS cardio. Here’s what’s considered intense, though:

      https://legionathletics.com/high-intensity-interval-training/

      • Ralph Anthony Espos

        Thanks for the reply!

        I am a little worried about tiring myself if I do HIIT and weights on the same morning, though, especially that I am still new to this. But, would you say that my body can get used to that in the first week of everything, or would you think that I should do that only starting perhaps in the following week or two?

  • Hi, Mike. When doing 25-30 minutes of HIIT cardio, is it necessary or recommended to eat protein beforehand? Or if doing fasted should one take something like your HMB product? I’m not clear if that duration could eat into muscle. Thanks

    • If you’re training fasted, take the HMB. If not, as long as you’ve eaten 1-2 hours prior to the workout, no need for a preworkout snack.

  • Leo Davis

    Hey Team,

    Quick question. I’m following the BLS 5 day weight training split and also trying 3 HIIT sessions (a mix of recumbent bike and hill sprints). My question is if I play basketball with friends on the weekend for a couple hours is that too much “cardio”?

  • Mycal

    Hi Mike, great article!

    I tend to spend 30 minutes doing cardio when i go to the gym three times I week. I do the stiar master, but with an added resistance of 9 or 10. Would you say this is sufficient enough for me to not only lose unwanted fat, but tone the body I am quite happy with?

  • LACTIC ACID KHAN

    What a load of bollocks!!!! im 48 years old i cycle 100 miles a day 3 days a week doing none stop 5 hour rides at 20mph average speed. my resting heart is 34bpm never been to the gym in my life all i ever do is ride my cycle.

    • Jonathan Casanova

      ok?

  • Lyle

    I’m 65, do about 4-5 hours of vigorous cardio a week, usually on an elliptical machine, in sessions of 45-60 minutes. Usually I try to keep my heart rate below 140-142 bpm but aim for high speed, relatively high intensity workouts of 8-12 miles. It helps keep my weight down. Is there a risk I might be putting too much strain on my heart?

  • Dan

    I just read an article that is right up the MFL/BLS alley: The Exercise Paradox, Scientific American, volume 312, number 2, page 26. It is by an anthropologist who compares energy expenditures of traditional western relatively sedentary folk with hunter-gatherers who have to go to great physical lengths to acquire their calories. The conclusion is that all that extra activity uses much much less energy than you would think, backing up the idea that if you want to lose weight, you need to watch your nutrition and “you can’t outrun a bad diet.” It’s a fascinating read.

  • Greg Holden

    HI make big MF/BLS fan. Just few HIIT cardio questions. Firstly I know the intervals should 50 % Tmax so currently doing 30 secs on with 45 secs rest and towards the end of the workout my heart rate is reaching 177 bpm. My question; how will know when my Tmax increase sufficiently enough to increase my work interval? My second question is as I am cutting/body re-comping (I am new to heavy compound lifting and skinny fat), is in regards to the boys adaptation to exercise.Would you start with less HIIT (say 40 – 60 mins weekly) increasing later on when I plateau with weight loss in place of reducing caloric expenditure. or ,on the other hand just start with 1.5 to 2 hours weekly? I am currently doing the 5 day slit from BLS currently as well. Thanks for the help
    Ever great full

    • Hey Greg! Thanks for the support!

      1. If you’re no longer reaching your vmax during your high intervals, it’s time to increase the length in time on your high intervals. I talk more about this here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/high-intensity-interval-training-and-weight-loss/

      2. Yeah, that much is fine. And then, as you said, increase the cardio and/or lower the intake accordingly to get things moving when you stall. This will be good to keep in mind:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/not-losing-weight/

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

      • Greg Holden

        Hi mike, thanks for the advice. Read the recomended and taken it all onboard. Do love that you back you articles and recomendations up with science and studys. Sticking with the proggramme.
        Ever greatfull
        Greg

        • Any time, Greg! Glad you’re enjoying my content 🙂 Keep up the great work!

  • Sonja

    Hi Mike. Thank you for your article on the question of cardio while trying to gain muscle. I compete and it was moderately simple trying to cut for bikini division. I have since decided to up the anti and try my hand at competing in figure (naturally) and was struggling with how much cardio to do and when to do it. I don’t want to blow out of proportion and make the task of cutting again much more difficult. I am looking at purchasing the legion stack for toning but am looking at including phoenix in it as well. Do you think that will be OK in terms of what I am trying to achieve. I am trying to gain muscle while maintaining my fat levels. I am 134 lbs at 20% BF at the moment. Thanks. Sonja (Sydney, Australia)

    • Hey Sonja, you’re welcome! Super cool that you’re competing and picked up a Legion stack. Phoenix will help with your cutting goals, and so will fasted training:

      https://legionathletics.com/fasted-cardio/

      4-5 HIIT cardio sessions a week and any fun low intensity cardio on the side will be fine while cutting. You can tone that down to under and hour when bulking.

      If you still need to put on muscle, then you’ll to cycle a bulk and cut. Staying at maintenance isn’t going to help you with effective muscle gain.

  • Tiago S.

    The right approach would be starting with like 1-2 sessions of HIIT at first into a fresh cutting and as the weight loss stales increase the number of sessions and / or duration (rather than lower calories immediately)?

    • If you can start with 3 sessions, great! If 1-2 is all your sore legs can muster, then work up to 3, then 4 when fat loss is slowing down. You can also increase the duration.

  • Daniel Northington

    Mike, first of all – thanks for all your hard work to publish all this content. It’s a wonderful resource and I get a lot out of it. I ride my bike 20 mi a day to work (100mi/week) and my reasons for doing so are philosophical on many levels. I’ll spare you those details, but suffice it to say this is a nonnegotiable activity. I’ve been doing it rain or shine for the past 3 years and love what it adds to my life. In the meantime, I’m in the gym 5-days a week (also at work) for about an hour, but given your recommendations for a hard-gainer-ish person like myself trying to develop a lean and strong body composition, I seem to be overdoing it. I know I’m asking for the best of both worlds, but any recommendations on how to do this much cardio without it affecting my resistance training performance? So far, I’m not noticing any significant losses in strength and I still appear to be progressing on weights and reps. I’m guessing this all comes down to nutrition and ensuring enough caloric intake to support that level of activity. For the record, I’m a fairly small dude (5’10” with a baseline weight of 155lbs and about 15% BF). I’ve recently been on a bulking phase, and was able to get up to 165, but now I’m headed into a bit of a cut. Currently, I’m at about 13% BF. Thanks again for all your work and input.

    • Hey Daniel, that’s totally fine if you enjoy the bike rides. You’re right. It will come down to your getting enough cals to support the cardio and the weights. You can consider dropping to a 3-day split, though. Just get enough rest and recovery!

      • frugalshrink

        Thanks for the input. I appreciate you taking the time to respond to everyone’s comments. Given the volume of people reading your stuff, that’s pretty impressive. Cheers.

  • Jason

    Hi Mike. I understand about not needing tons of cardio to achieve the kind of results you discuss on your site and in BLS. I’ve done some searching on your site, however, and I can’t find where you discuss how much cardio might be needed specifically with regard to maintaining cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of cardio per week for that, similar to recommendations from some other respected organizations. Is there research to support the notion that this recommendation is too high, or that limiting cardio to the levels you recommend is adequate specifically in terms of your cardiovascular health?

    • Good question!

      I don’t know of any research that can answer that definitively, but there’s no doubt that weightlifting can greatly benefit your heart health and would bring that number down.

      Personally I think it makes sense to do a minimum of 60ish minutes of cardio per week in addition to whatever lifting you’re doing.

  • Vaishnavi Chandhiramouli

    Hi Mike, this was such an awesome read. I’ve been struggling with my weight gain recently. I’ve been tracking my calories as best as I can, and I am realizing that I definitely have been doing too much cardio after having read your article. I spin for an hour 3 times a week, I bike to work everyday which is only about 4 miles roundtrip, and I do about 2 HIIT sessions per week. I also rock climb 1-2 times on weekends. I’m also a vegetarian so sometimes, getting my protein in can be hard but I’m doing my best with nuts, beans, yogurt, nut butters etc. I’ve noticed that I’ve actually gained 20 lbs in the last 6 months and went from doing 0 pull-ups to about 4. However, I definitely feel very heavy and I also look like I’ve packed on a gut which has not been great. I do know that as a vegetarian, I can sometimes crave sugars when I’m not full, so perhaps this can be a reason for the weight gain. I feel like some weight gain is appropriate when I’m getting stronger but definitely not 20 lbs, especially when I do not see any definition or tone. Any tips for me?

  • Rachel Sanderson

    hi, interesting article, I am trying to lose belly fat after 2 pregnancies, im 43 & 1M67 high currently weighing 70 kilos, I want to be 68 kilos but i do cardio 5days a week for roughly 20/30 minutes I keep it varied, sometimes kickboxing cardio sometimes dancing, sometimes jogging and sometimes doing jump rope for 30 seconds with 10 seconds rest for a duration of 25 minutes..all of which at the end of my cardio i do 25 minutes weight training, working different muscles each session rather than killing it in one foul swoop.. on rest days I do lunges and maybe ab excercises not lasting more than 10 MINUTES ..I read that women need to do cardio before lifting weights as we dont have as much testosterone as men and obviously oestrogen .
    am I doing too much cardio, should i do absolutley nothing on rest days??? I feel fine I have changed my diet to a low carb high protein and Im respecting it and my calorie intake.. please let me know yr thoughts on my training routine.xx

  • Ellen Fleischer

    Hi. I’m trying to get down to a healthy BMI (I’m down to 37 from 45, so it’s going to be a bit longer). I own a Gazelle Edge glider and I’ve started doing some resistance training with fitness tubes. From what I’ve read, the glider helps to firm and tone muscle, though since I’m currently eating at a deficit, everything I’m reading tells me I won’t be able to build more muscle until I stop losing weight.

    I’ve been doing 50 minutes on the glider 5 days a week. Is this excessive? So far, I’m feeling great, my doctor’s thrilled that I’ve dropped 45 lbs in 6 months, and okay, I don’t mind that burning off just under 500 calories (going by the LCD display) allows me to eat a bit more and still lose. However, I don’t want to set myself up for the health problems you mention in the article.

  • Ana Luna

    Hello! I really enjoyed reading this!! I have a question. I’m 5’4, weigh about 155. My goal is to have a smaller stomach, and gain more leg muscle. My issue that I thought I was doing correctly, is running on the treadmill for 30 minutes, 5 days a week, and then hitting the weights each time after that exhausted. As for reading your post, do you recommend me dropping my cardio I take to maybe twice a week, that way leg day is the other 3 days? And on leg days, do you recommend any specific warm up before or after the weights? Also, for reducing my cardio, if I eat a lot healthier, would I see a difference quicker than running 30 minutes a day? Thanks so much!!! Hope to hear from you soon

  • K.I.N.G. Movement

    Hi Mike, What are your thoughts on Crossfit?

  • Aeslin Shaw

    Hi Mike! I recently just purchased your ebook the shredded chef.. I love it so far and am learning a lot. I recently purchased a program from online trainer. And my workout plan is cardio and weightlifting. He has me doing 3 days of 60 min low intensity cardio and 2 days of 45 minute HIIT cardio. Is this way too much?? To me I feel like it is too much cardio. I am trying to burn fat and build lean muscle; Im 5’4 and weigh 133. My diet he has me on his boring too it’s 5 meals a day with nothing but chicken and veggies. I was reading in your ebook about doing 3-4 days of HIIT cardio for 20-25 minutes, is this something I should do instead of the cardio I was provided by the online coach?

    • Hey Aeslin, cardio is great, but the most you’ll need is 2.5 hours of HIIT each week on top of weight lifting to lose fat.

  • Dylan

    Hey Mike, why not just do 4-6 30 second intervals everyday instead of 25-30 minute sessions?

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