Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
- CARDIO SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN YOUR WEEKLY TRAINING PLAN, REGARDLESS OF SPECIFIC GOALS
Cardio is essential for your overall health and fitness. Period.
I personally believe that 3x weekly cardio sessions should be a staple, regardless of your start point and / or end goal.
This can be achieved in many ways – manipulated in both time and form – to suit your own specific aesthetic and / or training goals.
- IF YOU ARE A BEGINNER
It is fairly obvious – just get up, and get moving.
Start by planning 3x weekly cardio sessions of between 20-30 minutes a pop.
Go for a walk, swim, dance, take up a new sport or simply jump on any cardio machine you enjoy (treadmill / elliptical / stepper / stairmaster / rower etc.).
If you find that you enjoy cardio, each week, you can add another session, or a few minutes onto your time.
I advise a maximum of 6x weekly, 1hr cardio sessions.
- THERE ARE 4 DIFFERENT TYPES OF CARDIO
Low Intensity Steady State – A walk or a gentle swim, for example – Typically up to 1hr max
Moderate Intensity Steady State – A jog or a fast paced incline walk, for example – Typically up to 1hr max
High Intensity Interval Training – 100% effort for up to 1 minute max, followed by recovery for up to 2 minutes max – Typically up to 30minutes max
Fartleck – Sporadic intervals of effort designed to mimic sporting activity – Typically up to 30minutes max
- IF GAINING WEIGHT AND / OR MUSCLE IS YOUR GOAL
If you are trying to gain weight and / or muscle, cardio should obviously take a back to seat to both weight lifting and total rest days.
However, while it may take a back seat, it should still take a seat.
The research for the best type of cardio in terms of muscle building is constantly being undermined, overruled and contradicted.
It was once thought that LISS was the best way to preserve muscle, it is now thought that HIIT (being essentially the same training zone as power) is the best way to go.
In my opinion, you should ideally be implementing a bit of both…
This is because while HIIT is great in terms of muscle maintenance and even building, too much of it will increase cortisol levels, stress the body and greatly hinder recovery, which is NOT what you want when trying to promote an anabolic (muscle building) state.
I recommend HIIT sessions directly off the back of ALREADY very physically stressful training sessions (high energy, compound lift days, such as legs for example).
Try 10 minutes of HIIT ( roughly 5 intervals) after leg days.
LISS can play a role on rest days, but in small amounts, such as a 20 minute walk or recovery swim.
- IF LOSING WEIGHT AND / OR FAT IS YOUR GOAL
Cardio should be seen as an added tool to your calorie deficit.
You should aim to start small, and increase ONLY if and when you plateau.
If you are trying to reserve muscle mass, I recommend starting on 10 minutes of HIIT (roughly 5 intervals) after leg days.
After other training sessions, try 20 minutes of LISS or MISS.
Cardio should start at x4 days TOTAL weekly.
If and when you plateau, you can +1 interval to your weekly HIIT, and +5 minutes to your weekly LISS or MISS.
HIIT should never exceed more than x30minutes total.
LISS or MISS should never exceed more than x1hr total.
You should not be doing cardio more than x6 days week TOTAL.