Cardio/Interval for Fat Loss and Muscle Gain?

erik ledin cardioCommon questions from those looking to lose weight or gain muscle: Should I use cardio? Intervals? How much? My answers usually depends on each individual person–their goals, their timeframes, etc. But there are a few general things I can say here.

Cardio/Interval for Fat Loss?

First of all, for fat loss, I usually like to put the main focus on diet and nutrition, secondary focus on interval training, and tertiary focus on low intensity cardio. If you’re not eating right, the exercise won’t do you much good. With an average client, I’ll usually assign them somewhere between one and three interval sessions each week with varying work/rest ratios. I’ll often give my lighter clients more cardio because their calorie intake isn’t going to be that big to start with.

Here’s an example. One client is 230 pounds and eats about 3,450 calories a week. Another client is 110 pounds and eats about 1,650. Right off the bat I like to create a 20% deficit in calorie intake and see where that gets us. So, if you do the math, client one  will be consuming 690 less calories and client two will be consuming 330 less calories. If they stick to the diet, client one is well on the way to losing over a pound of fat per week, but client two is not. So I’ll prescribe client two some additional interval or cardio to get a reasonable fat loss rate.

Cardio/Interval for Muscle Gain?

If gaining muscle is the goal, I’ll often ditch interval training entirely, since the calories you’d lose could have been used towards gaining the muscle you’re looking for. If it’s your heart you’re worried about, weight training will provide plenty of cardiorespiratory benefits. If you don’t believe me, the next time you’re lifting, take your pulse.