cardio to weight lifting proportions

Ask or answer questions, discuss and express your views

Moderators: Ironman, Jungledoc, jethrof, stuward, parth

Post Reply
former lurker
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 3:54 pm

cardio to weight lifting proportions

Post by artFling » Thu Sep 21, 2006 3:55 pm

I am 43 years of age and just getting into the world of weight training. My goal is to lose my belly. I have been at it for about eight months. After a lot of research I am still confused about how much cardio I should do compared to weight lifting exercise for maximum benefit. Right now I do one interval cardio workout to every three or four weight lifting workouts. I don’t want my cardio to roll back my gains from lifting. I have lost about 30 pounds but have been stuck at 225 pounds for a couple of months. I’m sure I am taking in too many calories (but I digress). Really, I need an answer on the cardio question.


User avatar
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 3992
Joined: Tue Jun 06, 2006 11:40 am

Post by Ironman » Thu Sep 21, 2006 8:03 pm

Get your diet under control first. Then add more cardio when you no longer get weight loss. Just add a little at a time. You want to do it at least once a week. Other then that is is the least ammount that will cause weight loss along with a proper diet. Eating like pig and then doing your hampster impression on a treadmil is counter-productive. Try writing down what and how much you eat and then post that in the diet section. After your diet is in order, increase the intensity of your cardio workout. Then make the session longer (but not more then 45 minutes), or add another sesssion. When weight loss hangs after that, then you cut the carbs down a bit. After that you maybe add another day of cardio, and so on. However, most of that is done when you get down to 12% or lower. Right now just getting your diet lined out should take care of it.

User avatar
Stephen Johnson
Exalted Seer
Exalted Seer
Posts: 2097
Joined: Sun Mar 12, 2006 11:20 pm
Location: New York City

Post by Stephen Johnson » Thu Sep 21, 2006 9:38 pm

If you're trying to improve your cardio capacity, you should do at least two cardio workouts a week. If you are satisfied with your current cardio capacity, once a week will suffice.

I agree with Ironman that weight control starts and ends with your diet. Given a lousy diet, even the best exercise program is a waste of time

former lurker
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Oct 15, 2006 6:34 am

Post by anando63 » Tue Oct 17, 2006 2:42 am

Excellent question that I am also confused about. My impression, after research and practice, is that cardio should ideally be done 40-60 mins per day for 5 days per week. I can't deny that, after about 1 year of varying different types of cardios and stretching with little or no weight training, I have gone from 110 kgs (242 lbs) to 90 kgs (198 lbs), my pants size has gone from 42 inches to 38 inches, and I am a lot more flexible and fit than before ... but I seem to be plateauing. I am male, 43, 5'7", computers (poor postured butt job), and I am satisfied about my diet, MHR, etc. WARNING to NEWBIES: NEVER start at 40 mins per day; build up gradually over a period of weeks, and follow educated guidance from this site and other sites/people.

As stated above, I am plateauing. I would like to tone up the muscles also instead of just losing fat, and I am concerned that I don't end up like other people who have achieved more than me but have bounced back to worse proportions. Hence, my interest in weight training.

If weight training comes after cardio (as above), then isn't that over-burdening the muscles/energy on the same day? Otherwise, if cardio is done once or twice a week, then do we go straight into weight training (warm up) with zero cardio on the weight training days? Or, is it some other combination of supplemental/complemental cardio and weights? I am sure you can understand the confusion of cardio/weights ratio on a daily/weekly basis.

Can someone post a sample routine, combining cardio, weights, and stretching, over a 7-day period, with details of exercise, timings, sets, reps, etc.? Obviously, this would be specified and treated as a guideline/sample/tip only. It would also help if age and level (beginner, intermediate, advanced) are specified.

Specific exercises, routines, advise, tips, etc. are all available on this and other sites, but putting it all together is my question. It's like the little girl in the movie "Sound of Music" where, having learnt the notes "Do Re Me Fa ..." and combinations, she says "But, it doesn't mean anything". In response, Maria (Julie Andrews) puts the notes together into a sample song: "When you know the notes to sing, you can sing 'most anything." :-)

In case this has been addressed already, please direct me to the post/link.


User avatar
In Memoriam: TimD
In Memoriam: TimD
Posts: 3129
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2005 8:04 am
Location: Va Beach, Va

Post by TimD » Tue Oct 17, 2006 8:56 am

Well, unless your main goal is cardio, and distance running, weights first is the recommended wayto go, for the reasons you stated. Now, cardio, lots of different ways to go with that, and all the "experts" don't agree with each other. So rather than trying to give you the magic bullet you're looking for (and BTW doesn't exist), let me point you to some very useful information upon which you can make up your own mind. Stay on this site. From homne page dive into the cardion section, and it gives breakdowns, pros and cons of the various different methods. Then go to the weight training setion. In the right hand menu you will find an article called "Toning with weights" and another called Fat Loss and Weight Training myths. At this point you should be armed with good info.
For program development, go to the weight training section again, and it will list Tmplates on how to set up a program. With your background, I would stay with a beginners approachand go with full body. The templates will step you through exercise selection. Your goal appears to be fat loss while maintaining/building a little muscle (see the Toning article-that's the definition). I'd advise doing the full body in circuit style, which is one exercise right after the other, rest, repeat the circuit.
As to something tailored, well, I don't want to do that as there are so many possibilities, but using your own judgement, knowing your equipment limitations, etc, you should be able to put something together from the templates. I'd also advise alternating days of weights, cardio, repeat.
Two more approaches, one similar, one not. Body For Life by Bill Phillips is a good book which combines the two and he gives very specific guidelines on mixing the two, and many have had good results. The website has gotten very commercial, so I'd advise going to your local library, check the book out. The other approach, which in my opinion is probably best for your goals (general fitness, fat loss, etc), would be to go over to and check it out. It's a mix of just about all aspects of fitness, combining strength, strength endurance, agility, cardio, etc.
Good training

Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Dec 26, 2005 6:04 pm

Post by northernbelle » Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:09 am

The recommendation that cardio be done 40-60 minutes 5 times a week is mainly for people who do no exercise. The current thinking is that you accumulate minutes of cardio during the week. Cardio can be anything from taking an evening stroll to playing a sport to HIIT in the gym. The idea is to be active, not necessarily constantly intense.

You are probably plateuing because you have ceased your newbie gains. So it's time to shake up the workout routine. If you are lifting seven days a week, you are giving yourself no rest time. I would suggest one or two days off a week, doing only light cardio on that day.

If you do cardio and lifting on the same day, do the lifting first (after a short warmup), then do maybe 30 minutes of cardio. That way, your muscles are fresh for the heavy stuff, otherwise they are worn out from the cardio and you can't give your all to lifting. You could break it up to lifting in the morning and cardio in the evening. Or you could alternate days of cardio and lifting. It's really determined by your schedule and what works for you. Just remember, that life doesn't allow you to spend hours and hours in the gym.

Combining cardio and the different lifting programs depends on your goals. Size and strength gains are determined by the number of sets and reps that you do, combined with the intensity of your load. This site breaks down the number of sets and reps nicely. It also give excellent workout plans. Choose one and try it.

Think of your year as a cycle, much as athletes do. Vary your routine and types of workouts every few months. For example, right now I am doing 3 days of lifting and 2 days of cardio. Because I am older, the cardio benefits are still very important to me. In December, I will reverse that to attempt to counteract the Christmas eating. In the new year, I will go to a full body, alternating cardio and lifting, because I start a seasonal job and I need a maintenance program. Then I will go to a program in which I can concentrate on working towards my goals.

It's impossible to meet all goals at once. That's why breaking your cycle into smaller cycles helps. You meet the goals at some point during the year, without driving yourself crazy.

You may be satisfied with your diet, but the fact remains that if you take in too many calories, you gain weight. If you take in too few calories, you lose weight but also lose some muscle. As you become lighter, your caloric needs are fewer, so it's a constant balancing act.

There is no one definitive answer for everyone. What works for me won't work for you. All you can do is to take the reasonable suggestions and work them into your lifestyle. If it works, keep it; if it doesn't drop it.

Hope this helps...

Post Reply