Cardio and training legs
I am getting into the home stretch of my cutting phase and I am looking to increase the amount of times that I am doing cardio each week. I am currently hitting my legs hard twice per week on the weights which is leaves them sore for most of the week. I am finding that on most days my legs just cant cope with high intensity cardio such as sprints or kettle-bell movements.
How can I increase my cardio frequency and/or intensity without compromising on my weight lifting? Do I just have to abandon the high intensity cardio and switch to moderate intensity steady-state?
How bout trying complexes for cardio? You can try swapping upper/lower body complexes to meet the needs of your training schedule. Depending on my schedule ill either get 2-3 cardio session in a week which include an upper complex, a lower complex, and then a more traditional type of cardio such as HIIT on an eliptical or sprints. Being able to sub in the upper body complex will allow you to get that cardio without having to sacrifice any recovery for your legs, or without hindering any potential progress when it comes to your lifts.
I should also add the complexes are my favorite type of cardio. Sometimes they are so intense that all I need is about 15-20 minutes before im completely worn out. If you don't know what they are just try a quick google search and youll find plenty of routines. They usually involve 3-5 exercises at a lower weight (mostly compount movements) for 8-10 reps. You chain these exercises together and go from one to the other without stopping for a rest. You only take a rest once you've completed all the exercises and your rest time should only be long enough to let your heart rate slow down (just as you would in HIIT) and then you repeat this a few times.
Just as an example, heres what one of my lower body complexes might look like:
Deadlifts, 8-10 reps (light weight, usually around 180)
Jump Squats, 15-20 reps
Lunges, 8-10 reps (both legs, again with light Dumbbells, usually around 20-25 lb's)
Stiff leg dead lifts or good mornings, 8-10 reps (usually done with the same weight I used to DL)
Usually 3-4 minutes rest before repeating the whole thing 3-4 times.
And for upper body:
Pushups, 15-20 reps
BB or DB rows, 8-10 reps (usually 50-55 lb's with DB's or around 100 with BB)
Alternating Shoulder Press, 8-10 reps (Again, light weight, roughly 40 lb's)
Cleans, 6-8 reps (At about 165 lb's)
Rest times are typically 3-4 minutes with this complex too, I try to complete it atleast 3 times.
Remember to always pick weights that will make you work but wont compromise anything in your normal training schedule. I should also add that some people will lower the amount of reps they do per each set. So if you deadlift 10 reps on your first set, then you could do 8 on your second, 6 on third...etc. Test it out, find what works and how much volume you can do with these without burning yourself out for the rest of your training week.
The idea is to try not to use the same muscle-fibre types.
Heavy weight training stresses your fast-twitch muscles. Same as sprinting. Therefore having the two close to each other in the week doesn't work well.
If you must run on the day before or after your heavy leg sessions, make it a slow, long distance run, as that won't leave your legs sore.
A good way to work it is this:
ME Leg Day next to Long, Slow Run
DE Leg Day next to Sprints
That way you're training diff muscle types and giving your body a chance to recover.
This isn't "cardio"- it is taxing your ATP/CP systems primarily, then switching to glycogen near the end of each complex. The typical adaptations people look for in cardiovascular exercise, including improved utilization of fat for fuel, improved lung capacity, intramuscular capillarization, mitochondrial density, etc., are poorly stimulated by these sorts of complexes, if they're stimulated at all.
Originally Posted by bkoman
Forget the complexes, may as well just save your energy and lift heavy- you'll build more muscle. I'm with Gaz (naturally)- the best way to combine the two is to ensure that your cardio sessions and lifting sessions complement each other- in other words, think how you fluctuate intensity and volume when lifting, now apply those same rules to cardiovascular activity. DOMS from high intensity lifting does not compromise low intensity, comparatively greater duration cardio, nor vice versa.. (Nor the inverse nor vice versa to the inverse... Uh, you get what I mean.)
There may be an article or two floating around out there with a bit more on that. I'm having a coughing fit right now.
Well theres no doubt Alex that youre very smart. I've been lurking these forums for a few years and you are one of the more credible people on the site. But i've used complexes before as my only source of cardio and have had great results for fat loss. I also did Muay Thai and competitive fighting for a few years and did complex style workouts for my cardio training (all while following a lifting schedule too), and it did wonders for my lung capacity/endurance all without hindering my weight lifting progression.
Originally Posted by Alex.V
Fat loss, sure, but they're not a form of cardiovascular exercise. Hell, I would NOT do cardio for fat loss, ever. Complexes and HIIT is anaerobic endurance exercise- Muay Thai DOES require anaerobic endurance (short, intense bouts of maximum power/force, and short recovery periods), so yes, it's specific to that, and more applicable than long slow jogging would be (though that would have its place). Specificity- if your chosen exercise uses the same energy pathways in similar patterns to your target activity, then performance in that activity will improve.
But it's not "cardio"- it will not improve any of the thing's I mentioned. I'm glad complexes worked for your chosen sport, but that's not the point.
And this isn't me trying to be smart, this is much smarter folks than I who've assembled the research and compiled the facts, I just filter and relay them. :)
This is honestly why the first question to ask when somebody asks how they should incorporate "cardio" is WHY. What are they hoping to get out of it. Fat loss? Don't do cardio. Improved performance in a sport? Depends what sport- possibly not. Want to run a 5k? Definitely. Want to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro? Definitely. Want to improve heart health? Definitely.
I'm going to PM you later today. I have a few questions but I don't want to derail this thread.
Whenever I start cutting up I always lose SOME weight strength, but its a necessary evil...
Why do you feel you even need cardio for cutting? If you do feel the need, as the others have noted, use the steady state variety.
My methods are quite bro-sciencey so correct me if I am wrong.
Originally Posted by chris mason
The main thing that is going to drive my results is being in a calorie deficit. I can achieve that two different ways, by eating less or by burning more. I prefer to not purely rely on eating less, I would rather my deficit come from a combination of eating less and burning more. My weight sessions already take me to me limits so I need to find new methods to burn more which are not so demanding on the muscles. Also, by using cardio to burn up some energy I get the added bonuses of improved heart health and improved lung capacity etc.
Well, yes and no. First, steady state cardio and caloric burn is something the body will fairly quick adapt to especially when on a low cal diet. In other words, while you might initially burn 500 cals in a session, in short order your body will adapt and you may only burn 100 cals for the same session.
Originally Posted by KristianT
So the value of such forms of cardio is a bit dubious. Don't confuse what top level bodybuilders who are drugged to the gills do. Their bodies don't react like yours will. In addition, if you keep upping your cardio you will likely accelerate lean muscle loss. The body's adaptation to a high volume of cardio is to shrink the involved musculature, i.e. the lower body in most cases. Strength training can help to offset this adaptation, but when in a caloric deficit combined with hard training you are very likely to go catabolic.
I think you would be better served with no cardio, or very little cardio (say 15 min. 3X per week) during your cut.
Originally Posted by bkoman
Chris, is it that the body is adapting to that particular form of cardio? If so would I be able to get around that by switching between different exercises, say 1 week running, 1 week swimming, 1 week cycling etc? Or is the body adapting to cardio in general?
And yes, you are spot in that I was mainly inspired into increasing my cardio volume/frequency based on what top level bodybuilders do leading into contests. I am training naturally so you may be right in that I should not be doing much cardio so that I preserve my muscle.