How much cardio is good enough?
For a general gym-goer? No! you don’t have to comply when the trainer says to warm up for 30 minutes by doing cardio. Better do dynamic stretching or activate the muscle group with bodyweight/lightweight exercises that you are going to do on a particular day and then proceed with the main lifts. E.g. doing a few push-ups or practising bench press with the bar alone will be a better warm-up. Besides, you don’t have to exhaust yourself at the beginning of a lifting session if the goal is strength and fat loss. Coming to that, cardio alone won’t accelerate fat loss. Strength training is much better as it tones muscles, improves strength and saves you from the sagged skin, which might happen if you ONLY do cardio( as a result of muscle loss). It has been discussed here many times that you have to preserve your muscles and if you only do cardio for months, there is a good chance that you might lose them. Just look at most of the professional marathon runners. You won’t find many muscular buff people there. You won’t lose muscles though if you have been lifting correctly throughout the week and your nutrition is on point. How many times a week? If you are training 5-6 days a week, targeting specific muscle groups and lifting heavy, and still have the desperation to do cardio, add a bit of cycling or brisk walking or jump ropes at the end of your sessions. That too, it’s better to plan them on alternate days. Because recovery is essential, and if you go on doing it every day, a complete burnout might happen. It can lead to injuries, as well. Varying the choice of exercises/equipment is essential too, as you practice different movements, minimizing the risk of injuries. But the best thing to do is to engage in any sport that you like( personal opinion), twice a week. You will enjoy it better. For a marathon runner? Here, the scenario is different. A runner has to train for endurance. It’s a skill that he/she needs to practice for months. Part of the preparation guys. We cannot expect a runner to train like a lifter. Of course, a strategic resistance training plan combined with cardio sessions will work better for him/her. It’s totally goal specific, and close monitoring by a well- informed coach is definitely required here. For an athlete? Ever seen a cricketer prepare for a match? His training style will vary for a test match as compared to a T20 match. Test match goes on for 5 days. For that, he needs ample agility, endurance and a lot of strength as well. His session will comprise of long sessions of cardio, strength training, fielding drills, skill drills( batting, bowling, etc.) so that he can stand the whole day of cricket. Every factor in training will be amplified, endurance and agility being the important ones. Whereas for a T20 match, he might have to focus more on strength and skillsets than endurance because it ends in 3 hours. Similarly, for a boxer or a swimmer or an MMA fighter, the amount and duration of cardio sessions will vary as per the individual goals. You get the drift right? ‘How much cardio necessary’ is always a goal and case-specific. Finally, HIIT or LISS? ( HIIT: High-Intensity interval training, LISS: Low-intensity steady-state cardio) Whichever one you prefer! None is superior to the other. It can be said safely that HIIT is a form of resistance training in a short period with little resting time. It saves time for sure. So, in case you are facing a time crunch, and want to include a small but explosive bout of cardio, HIIT is for you. To all the people who got time on their hands or enjoy LISS, go for it. Plan it according to your needs and response.