Is cardio necessary or should weight training and diet be the focus?
Colin: Necessary is a very strong word. Of course what your current goals are makes a huge difference, and genetics as well. If you are in a muscle-building phase cardio becomes much less important, especially if you are an ectomorph like myself and have a very high metabolism. Even in a weight loss phase cardio is not necessarily all that important for someone like me, but that’s because of A) my metabolism and B) my goals of maintaining a body fat percentage somewhere around 9-10%. I can do that without much cardio. Now if I wanted to start getting into competitions and needed to get down around 6% body fat, I don’t think that’s happening without increasing cardio requirements. That doesn’t, however, mean needing endless amounts of state state cardio to get the job done. I believe it can still be done with a few shorter intense HIIT sessions every week combined with the right diet. Now for those who aren’t “blessed” with a higher metabolism, it may require a little more work with cardio. Then again, as I stated that depends on what you are trying to do.
Cardio also has other benefits besides just body composition as it’s good for the heart and lungs. So based on that it’s always a good idea to incorporate some for overall health and fitness. I should really tell myself that as I go through this bulking stage… Anyway to answer the question weight training and diet should be the focus, while cardio is only optimal (note optimal not necessary) depending on your goals.
Dara: This depends on your goals, but I am going to say that I would always recommend at least some cardio, at least for the conditioning benefits. In some cases I would recommend very little cardio, like during a muscle building phase, but I still thinking that breaking a sweat and getting your heart pumping is an important part of overall fitness. In relation to fat loss, which is most commonly associated with cardio, I find that results come quicker and easier when I incorporate regular cardio into my routine. Specifically HIIT done on a different day or separate in the day from my lifting session. There may be some people who can just tighten up their diet and lose body fat, but I find that I need to do the cardio. So for me, yes it’s necessary.
Matt: I’m with Colin in that necessary is a strong word. No, it’s not necessary as far as attaining or maintaining a certain look is concerned, if that’s your singular goal. If your diet is on point then you can lose all the fat you need to with just regular life activities and weight training alone.
I will say that cardio, regardless of the type (LISS or HIIT) will definitely get the fat off of you faster than through diet alone. I think anyone who has been through any serious fat loss phase will understand that the speed at which the fat comes off is very important. In the early phase it’s very satisfying to see progress quickly and that progress may be what gets you to stay the course later when the going gets tougher. A 16 week diet is a lot easier to swallow than a 24 or 36 week diet. Not to mention it feels like you are actively losing that fat when you engage in cardio and not just waiting for it to very slowly be metabolised.
There is the issue of endurance too. When I’m in shape and doing even just occasional sprints and some light cardio, my reps are higher on every exercise, especially the really tough ones like squats, deadlifts and pull ups. It may be considered heresy by some to do cardio during a mass building phase but if your lifting benefits from doing cardio, then doesn’t it make sense to do it?
Round 1: The best fat loss method
Round 2: Fasted vs fed cardio for fat loss
Round 5: The best 3 exercises
Round 6: The ideal training program
Round 7: How much protein for fat loss
Round 8: The last 10 pounds
Round 9: The ultimate training split
Round 10: Do carbs or fats make you fat?
Round 15: Are cheat meals good or bad?
Round 16: The fastest way to get six pack abs?
Round 17: The most effective exercise sequence
Join our list
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.