Q*: I am still looking to lose around 25 lbs, but don't want to lose muscle, how much cardio do you think I should do, or would it be better to do total body workouts for awhile and skip the cardio? Not sure I could do that though, lol.
A: Since you plan on being in fat burning mode for a little while longer, it's fine if you want to keep some cardio in, until you get to where you want to be. Try not to make cardio your main focus, though, if you can help it.
Cardio or Strength Training? Cardio obviously has great health benefits, and we'd never recommend that someone who loves it, completely omit it (just look at Lucia with her beloved Zumba). Instead, we simply make this recommendation from a fat loss goal-based emphasis. It will come in real handy to have that “trump card”– as I like to call it — when you're close to the finish line, and hit that infamous plateau that comes along. If you are only doing cardio to lose weight, then every time you hit a plateau, you will need to increase your cardio just to get the same results. Before you know it, you're doing cardio for hours on end, with little to no payoff.
If you are strength training, on the other hand, and hit a plateau, you only need to adjust weight or repetitions to break it. You do NOT have to spend more time doing it, though. Another trick is to try to get a cardio burn from your weights as well, with total body/circuits/and leg work. Those will all help invoke a cardio factor without hours of cardio. They will also help you to preserve the muscle you've built so far. You can continue in that manner until you get to a point where you are ready to actually build more muscle (and are no longer eating in deficit), then you can switch it up to suit you.
My only advice is to switch things up every 4-6 weeks, so that your body doesn't get to used to any one tactic. So if you're going crazy on cardio and doing full body workouts, switch to a split for maybe 2-4 weeks to provide the shock to your body, so you don't just fall into a routine. Then you can go back to it if you like. The reason? The last thing that you want for your body is to become “efficient” in fat burning. Though it sounds like a good thing, it's not. It means that your metabolism slows down and NEEDS the things that you're doing in order to burn the same amount of calories. Which, net effect will lower your maintenance calories, causing you to have to eat less and less in order to break plateaus, and at the same time have to work harder and harder.
Since our metabolism already declines as we age, there's NO reason for us to speed up this process. My ultimate goal when losing my weight, was to lose it doing the LEAST amount of cardio possible and eating the MOST amount of food possible, lol (but then again, I was never really fond of cardio). That way, as I came to plateaus or as I aged and those numbers had to increase & decrease (respectively), it will still be manageable…if that makes any sense. Let's be honest, if being fit/healthy is a lifelong goal, at some point (80-90yrs old?) it MAY be required that we eat next to nothing, and do 3 hours of cardio each day (and possibly another hour at night?), but if we start doing that now then we may be stuck eating nothing and working out 7 hours/day by the time we get to that age (if such an age exists).
*Q & A posts are excerpts from actual submitted emails from clients and fam. Have a question that you'd like to see addressed in Q & A or explained in a future article? Drop us a line below!