When is Cardio a Valid Tool for Fat Loss with Intermittent Fasting?

Andy MorganTraining Principles222 Comments

Three shredded physiques obtained without any cardio ripped body

Three shredded physiques obtained without any cardio ripped body

“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back.”

I don’t have a problem with cardio, just wasted time. For those that enjoy cardio then this is time well spent; everyone has their own preferences, live and let live. Let’s not pretend though that most people aren’t solely doing cardio because they wish to lose fat.

Cardio as a tool for fat loss is over-rated, over-used, and overall a very poor time investment for the IF user. Most people that ask me questions about cardio understand this, however there is confusion as to at what point cardio becomes necessary to get leaner.

Scott, Jeff and Phil pictured above did not use cardio to get into their shredded condition. I told them that they wouldn’t need it to get to a body-fat level they would be satisfied with. I suggest to you that the answer is likely the same. In my opinion the vast majority of people give up on diet manipulation alone as a means of achieving their ideal physique way too early.

At What Point Do You Need Cardio?

Intermittent Fasting (particularly the Leangains type where people skip breakfast) can perhaps enable us to get to leaner than with other diet methods through diet manipulation alone. This is due to the following factors:

  • The increased ease at creating a calorie deficit through an increase in satiety and better hunger control.
  • The increased potential to get to stubborn fat.

This article focuses on the latter point, though I must add that it is hypothetical, with little clinical research to support it at present. This will be enough for most people, however there is a limit to how far you can take it no matter how skillful you are at manipulating your diet; the reason is stubborn body fat.

What Is Stubborn Body Fat?

Stubborn body fat is physiologically different from other fat in your body and this makes the removal of it difficult. Typically stubborn fat is found in the lower abs, back and glutes in men; thighs, glutes and hips in women.

What Makes Stubborn Fat Stubborn?

There is a theoretical limit on how much fat can be oxidised (burned) before the body will fuel itself by breaking down muscle mass. Fatter individuals can afford a greater deficit before this happens than leaner individuals because the body uses fuels in the ratio they are available. – Fat people clearly have their pantry stocked with a lot of butter, a little meat; shredded people with just a little butter, a lot of meat.

For fat loss three things need to happen:

  1. Lipolysis: Fat needs to be broken down into free fatty acids (FFAs) and released from the fat cell into the blood stream.
  2. Transport: The FFAs need to be transported through the blood to somewhere where they can be used for fuel.
  3. Oxidation: Tissues somewhere in the body need to pluck these FFAs from the blood stream and use them for energy.

When getting really lean (assuming a calorie deficit) the body has only muscle or the stubborn fat reserves left to fuel itself on. Due to the physiological differences of stubborn fat, both 1 and 2 are particularly tough to achieve. So though a calorie deficit may be present and the body ready to use the free fatty acids as energy (step 3), if they aren’t in the blood stream around those tissues, they can’t be used, and the body will break down muscle tissue to fuel itself. Clearly you want to avoid this situation.

How Intermittent Fasting Can Help With Lipolysis

Unfavourable (for physique purposes) alpha/beta receptor ratio differences in the stubborn fat areas of the body are what makes it difficult for lipolysis to take place. To keep it simple, let’s just say that the morning fasting, by increasing catecholamine output and lowering insulin in the blood stream, creates circumstances which help to get around the receptor issues to allow the fat to escape the fat cells.

How Cardio Helps With Transport (by getting more blood flow to the right areas)

Before your eyes glaze over with the science please stand up and drop your pants. Take your right palm and slide it onto your right arse cheek. Is it cold? Relatively colder I bet. That’s because the blood flow to your glutes and other stubborn-fat areas is poorer. This matters because even if you overcome the problems associated releasing the FFAs (fat) into the blood stream, if there isn’t sufficient enough blood flow to carry them elsewhere to be burned then they will just be reabsorbed into the fat cell.

  • Cardio can increase blood flow to these areas, which is one reason why you may have heard nutritionist Martin Berkhan recommend fasted walking on non-training days.
  • Yohimbine HCL can increase blood flow to these areas, which is why you may have heard that recommended also, but it would be a waste of money to take it before you get to the stubborn fat stage. (Incidentally it’s banned in many countries, not because of people taking it for stubborn fat loss, but because of idiots mega-dosing with it to boost erections.)

The Risks: IF can make it easier to burn stubborn fat, but increases the risk of muscle loss.

(Note: this is only really relevant when looking to get to exceptionally lean levels of body fat like you see above. – As long as you have your calorie intake and macros set up right.)

It would be remiss of me to not mention this: The leaner we get, the greater the potential for muscle loss with a reduced meal frequency. It’s important to put this in perspective and weigh up the pros and cons.

If you eat a greater meal frequency and spread your meals further across the day instead of skipping breakfast, your risk of muscle mass losses is minimised, but you add in more complication to your diet. – Meal preparation takes more time, macro counting is incrementally harder, and you likely have to add in cardio sooner to get shredded lean. (i.e. If you skip breakfast you might be able to get to 7% body fat without cardio, but if you eat breakfast you might only be able to get to 9%.)

How much of a risk is it to skip breakfast?

This depends. The greater the calorie deficit and the leaner you are, the greater the risk of muscle loss. But if you take things slow and steady then the risk is small. I’ve coached over 1000 people with the majority of them choosing to skip breakfast and I can’t say I have noticed it causing any significant lean tissue losses. The clients you see in the top picture skipped breakfast, ate twice a day, and did not use any cardio to get into that condition.

However, it’s important to consider that they were recreational trainees without a deadline, not professional or serious amateur competitors looking to get any potential possible edge over the competition. The calorie deficits were moderate, training intensity was kept high, protein intake was kept high, and BCAAs were used in cases where they trained fasted. (My guide to setting this all up here.) In the case of a top-tier bodybuilder it would be better to go with the more conservative approach and have a higher meal frequency (assuming they had the time and will to do it). Also, if someone is in a rush to get into stage ready condition and so the deficit they need to have is greater than what would be most conservative for muscle mass retention, a greater meal frequency should be considered.

I’d add further that anyone convinced that they will lose muscle mass by fasting would be best to not fast. – The mind has a powerful effect on the body and this could indirectly cause muscle mass losses via increased stress and poorer training.

What if muscle mass is lost?

Outside of competing, it won’t really matter as you’ll gain it all back again quickly when you move into maintenance calorie circumstances after your cut. This is due to good old myonuclear domain theory.

RippedBody.jp Results - Katsu

Japanese client Katsu winning his class. He also skipped breakfast, ate just two meals a day and didn’t do any cardio.

Summary & Further Reading

Don’t kid yourself about what stubborn body fat is. Too often people at 15% cry about “stubborn body fat” when they are nowhere near that point yet. Due to genetic difference some folks seem to have more stubborn fat than others. If we say that the above three guys are at around 7%, even if you’re on the unlucky end of that genetic difference you should be able to get to 10% before running into issues. This will still be good enough for a good set of abs, at the very least a well-defined 4 pack.

 – Think before you give a portion of your life to a treadmill. –

Lyle McDonald’s book “The Stubborn Fat Solution” gives an excellent insight into what makes stubborn fat stubborn. Martin Berkhan has done a great job of explaining why IF can help with stubborn fat losses in his own article here.

If you’re interested in practical guidelines on how to set up your diet so that you don’t fall foul of any of these mistakes then you can get my complete set-up guide here. (This is the most viewed page on the site.)


Thanks for reading. Questions welcomed in the comments as always. – Andy.

Share this on Facebook & join in the conversation

Get The RippedBody.com Starter Kit:


1. Macro calculator
2. 'The Complete Guide To Setting Up Your Diet' book
3. Email course on the 5 biggest set-up mistakes people make.

(Yes, it's all free.)

Powered by ConvertKit

The Last Shred 3D Cover - Large

Find my 'Complete Guide To Setting Up Your Diet' book useful?

↓ Take your physique to the next level ↓

The Last Shred: How To Adjust Your Diet Like A Pro To Achieve Single Digit Body Fat

Stop second guessing yourself.

→ 77 pages, Real data from 5 clients guided to shreds

You owe it to yourself to at least take a look →

About the Author

Andy Morgan

I'm an online nutritional and training coach living in Tokyo, Japan. After seeing one too many people get ripped off by supplement and training industry lies I decided to try and do something about it. The site you see here is the result of a lot of Starbucks-fuelled, two-fingered typing. It's had a lot of love poured into it, and I hope you find the guides to the diet and training methods I use on this site useful. When I'm not helping clients you'll likely find me crashing down a mountain on a snowboard, racing around Suzuka circuit, or staring at watches I can't afford. (Read more about me →)

222 Comments on “When is Cardio a Valid Tool for Fat Loss with Intermittent Fasting?”

  1. Hi Andy,

    I’ve been following your guides for a few months and I’m pleased with the results. My only concern actually is that I’m stuck at 10-11% BF for several weeks. I did a diet break but it didn’t seem to work, still stuck.

    I’m on a solid training routine and I have good control of my calories and macros so I believe I’m limited by stress and maybe poor quality sleep (2 children). I’m sleeping an average of 7hrs/day. Is there any simple test that allow me to measure my stress level or even estimate if I’m sleeping enough?



    1. Hi Leonardo, thanks for the questions.
      Is there any simple test that allow me to measure my stress level or even estimate if I’m sleeping enough?
      For the former, no. For the latter, can you wake without an alarm clock? Do you feel exceptionally tired in the mornings? If you have to ask then you’re probably not getting enough.

      I’m stuck at 10-11% BF for several weeks.
      This is something of a red flag. – How do you know? Suggests you might not be tracking as I advise. Avoid trying to measure body fat percentage, focus on detailed body measurements and scale weight changes. Guide here.

  2. Hi bro, really need your advice here..i’m on bulking mode for past 4 months.gain around 10kg so far..was doing 3-day split push/pull programme..doing calorie counting on my own. The prob is my stubborn fat around my belly still there and my stomach getting bloated/bigger while other body parts can c improvement. Is this norm or what? Care to advice?

    Thanks in advance

  3. Andy, first thanks for this wealth of information. My question is that I’m confused about how to track my exercise with regard to MyFitnessPal: specifically, do I add the calories burned from my cycling rides or not? I typically burn between 500 calories on a short ride and up to 1500 on longer ones. I’m training for endurance rides.

    First, I found my TDEE. Then I used your calculator and guide. I did factor in about 67 minutes of exercise per day, 6 days a week using your calculator. That’s three days of lifting and 3 days of cycling. So it seems to me that I wouldn’t want to enter any calories burned into MyFitnessPal because they’ve already been accounted for in your calculator. Would that be correct?

    If I should enter those calories burned (from my garmin) then would I need to replace them?

    1. Hi Peter, correct. If you then enter in your Garmin data you’ll be counting the calories twice and will overeat. If you wish to use the Garmin data, set the activity multiplier without your cycling.

  4. Thanks for the response Andy,

    But would you say from experience that the only way to get that lean without needing cardio is only if you use the “Leangains” approach which utilizes fasting and calorie cycling? Or can you get there by just simply counting macros with the daily calorie deficit staying the same without cycling calories, without fasting, and without cardio and still get that lean?

  5. Hi Andy,

    I am currently not doing Leangains but just simply tracking macros/calories and making adjustments with no carb cycling. I am 6’1 199lbs and roughly ~12% body fat and am stalling at 1900 cals with fat loss. I started at 2200 cals and I’ve been going at it for nearly 5 months. I am about to do another diet break to help reset hormones but would you say that there is point where you should no longer cut calories let’s say at 1700 and suggest adding in cardio since I’m not doing leangains? I honestly was hoping to take your suggestion and not add in cardio the entire cut but it’s been 5 months and my progress is slowing.

    Also, would it be possible to get into single digit bf% shredded lean with just simply counting macros/cals and adjusting as needed without having to use IF or carb cycling (Leangains)?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Cj, thanks for the questions and sorry for the lack of clarity. Here goes:
      1. Yes, its perfectly possible to get shredded lean without cardio and skipping breakfast.
      2. Whether you choose to do cardio or not depends on your preference between reducing food intake or increasing activity in order to further adjust the caloric deficit.

  6. Pingback: The Leangains Guide | RippedBody.jp

  7. Hi Andy,

    I am very happy a friend referred me to Leangains, and I don’t have to follow my previous diet that forced me to eat 5 meals filled with chicken fillets, broccoli or brown rice per day.
    I would not want to abuse your free advise here on the website but would like an opinion.

    I am 26 years old, quite short in length (I don’t know my actual length) and weigh 65kg. Because of years of excessive beer drinking I had a beer belly. I have gone from 73kg to 65kg by doing no exercise but switching from beer to whiskey and soda water (only on weekends) and lots of water. Now, when I’m standing up-right I have a flat belly. However, when I bend over I still have a bit of “rolls” at the bottom of my stomach whitch I want to get rid of, basically having only skin showing when I bend over. I am not looking to get built or have huge arms, just loose that bit of belly fat and mabe work on a 6 pack. This is my current diet:

    – I eat twice a day (12:30pm and 18:30pm). This I am changing today from 1:00pm and 21:00pm as per your suggestions.
    – When I eat, I eat cooked food usually (Beef,rice,potato,vegies,salad). A fist portion of each.
    – I drink nothing less than 3l of pure water per day, starting off with one glass when I wake up.
    – I never eat take-away’s, and RARELY eat out.
    – On weekends I will drink Whiskey,lime and soda water, and don’t really eat much.

    Exercise wise – I don’t do any at them moment. I was looking on starting to:

    – Jog on Saterdays and Sundays (starting off with 3km each day)
    – Do home exercises at home (The mountain climber, crunches, push-ups)

    Do you have any critical adjustments you suggest I make to get rid of that little bit of belly fat still left?

    Thank you in advance.


    1. Ivan, thanks for the comment. My guide for making adjustments is here:
      When & How To Adjust Your Macros
      If you have a question or clarification you’d like to ask based on the article then please feel free, but what you’ve done here is write down everything you’re doing and asking me to critique it, which that is not the function of the comments, nor fair use of them.

  8. Pingback: Full Diet Set-up Guide – #4 Nutrient Timing | RippedBody.jp

  9. I’m currently cutting (or at least trying to). I have a lot of fat but I have been lifting for some time and am in fairly good condition. I do resistance training 4 times a week. I do exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press, etc… I try to do these fast and often combine ones that fire different muscle groups into supersets. I try to make myself sweat as much as I can. I rest between sets/exercises only to catch my breath. In the begining and at the end of every workout I ride the bike for ~10mins. Sometimes I do interval, sometimes steady. If I feel I have the energy left I do a tabata with burpees and something else.

    I generally feel great but my results have been inconstant. Recently I made a 5 day break and returned to the gym lighter with a lot of energy. Is that a sign that I might be over-training? Should I cut the cardio or the amount of training days? I really feel good, I am energized the whole day (don’t need coffee or other stimulants during the day).
    Also if I should heavy lift 3 times a week and not do cardio during these days, would 2 morning 10 minute cardios + tabatas on the rest days hurt my recovery?

  10. Pingback: Quando o aeróbico é uma ferramenta válida pra emagrecer?Dieta & Malhação

  11. I really want to try IF after reading up on leangains.com, my question being that as I cycle to work (12 miles) and then hit the gym about 30 mins later (because of other commitments this is the only time i can train) will I need to get some BCAA’s throughout the morning until i have my 1st meal at midday and will the cycling be detrimental as i won’t be eating until midday ?

  12. If I have that last stubborn lower ab “2 pack” to get rid of (10-11% BF) and I am practicing all day fasting and lean gains, how much yohimbine to consume and what would be the best daily protocol as to how to use it? Thanks!

  13. my wife is 273 lbs and she is 5.3 inches tall she is on a 1400 cal diet for weight loss she lifts weights M/W/F and tuesday and thursdays she does zumba. first off is this good for weight loss for her she is doing IF i told her she could probably have carbs every day is that right?

  14. I am curious as to how you would set calories and macros for a conditioning based day. I strength train primarily (3x a week) but I do have two days a week where I will do a sprint or sled day. This is primarily because I enjoy these two activities and I occasionally hop in on crossfit style workouts done at my work and pick up rugby games. Both of which I’d rather not be the one bent over and puking and adding in two days of enjoyable conditioning keeps me at a level where I can last long enough for the strength difference to shine through. Do you recommend just adding on 200-300 kcal to the rest day numbers or just using the calories for the actual workout day set up.

  15. Pingback: Paciência: algo fundamental para o sucesso da dietaDieta & Malhação

  16. Pingback: Aeróbicos para quem foca a musculação - Dieta & MalhaçãoDieta & Malhação

  17. Hi Andy. I need to drop a lot of weight (i am 97 Kilos at 5’7) I have been on a 16/8 diet for about three weeks and the weight loss has been modest. I am hardly able to workout, i feel weak and getting a pump is almost impossible. What should be my carb / protein intake per day and should i eat carbs with my last meal (around 8 to 9 pm)?

  18. Hello Andy,
    You mention that stubborn body fat is different for Women. I know you mentioned lots of science stuff would be needed to better explain (so I get that it would be difficult to go into that too much), but…
    I’m a 40+ female and I’ve been following you for over a year. I’ve had some changes, but they are so slooooow (I do all the same things as my husband, but my husband changes over the weekend. I swear to you. Me… not so much).
    Can you explain or direct me to any information that will explain how to overcome/understand how to deal with this $@&) stubborn female fat more efficiently than maybe I am doing currently? Would you suggest a different protocol for women in this stage?
    Thanks in advance,

    1. Hi Becky.
      A calorie deficit (diet and cardio), diet breaks, and patience.
      Lyle McDonald’s ‘The Stubborn Fat Solution’ is a great book, very well written but quite technical and has some protocols in there, but they probably aren’t necessary yet.

  19. Pingback: Cardio for the Physique Focused Trainee | RippedBody.jpRipped Body

  20. Hi,
    I have 17% Body Fat. I feel like I am stagnated at this point. I am fasting for ramadan so I can not have food or water for 19 hours. 2:30am till 9:30pm. The gym timing is 6am – 10pm. I am wondering if I can do strength training only without cardio and get the results??

    1. Hi Tai, absolutely, that was the point I was trying to make in the article. I’m guessing that if you’re asking this that you haven’t seen the, The Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance (for Fat Loss & Muscle Growth) – Overview yet. So give that a good read through.

      Now for Ramadan, the timing is clearly going to be different from what I have suggested in part 4, but you need to maintain your macros. Whether this is a big PWO meal then snack before bed, two medium sized meals, or a snack then big meal before bed is really up to your preference.

      You may need to eat more calorie dense foods because of the shortened time period to get all the calories in. Protein shakes will be your friend. A good way to get the carbs I find is crushed up cereal with skimmed milk – add in some protein perhaps.

      The training would be better done at the end of the day so you can eat eat following that. It’ll be tougher due to water restrictions, but that can’t really be helped, just be aware of it. If you need to reduce the volume of your workouts, then do so. But maintain the intensity (weight lifted).

      Simple as that really.

      1. Hi Andy!
        Thank you very much for your prompt response. I have been going at the end of the day (an hour before I can eat) so as soon as I am finished I can have PWO meal. Once again, Thank you very much!

  21. Okay. I’m obese. But oddly enough two of my favorite activities are distance hiking (6 – 12 miles at a clip) and Mountain Biking (usually 1-2 hours sessions). If I want to do this program as a “fat burner” how do I affectively incorporate those into the routine? Both diet and exercise wise. I usually do at least one of these activities per week sometimes both – I don’t necessarily want to give them up.

    Thanks in advance for all your help!

    1. Hi Rick. Just do them whenever you feel is best. There is no advantage to timing these things at this point, that only comes into play at very low levels of body fat.

  22. Hi Andy,

    I’m currently on a cut.

    I like to go rollerblading (for fun’s sake – not for cardio sake) on weekends / evenings mostly (off-days). How would I adjust my calorie intake for those days? I guess one hour of rollerblading burns like 300-500 kcals. Should I just eat 300-500 kcals more on those days? If so, what would those consist of (carbs, protein, fat)?

    1. Hi Aaron. Mainly carbs, some fats if you like also. – This is more down to personal preference than anything. Extra protein would mainly just be a waste of money.

  23. Hey!

    I’m training for Tough Mudder, my team do hill sprints once a week (which will be on a rest day), how do I treat this in terms of macros/bcaas/calories ect?

    I usually workout in the mornings but hill sprints will be in the evenings?



    1. Hi Sam.
      1. You may consider adding in some carbs on this day.
      2. If hill sprints will be in the evenings then there is no need for BCAA consumption, you’ll have plenty of amino acid availability in your blood stream from the digesting foods from the earlier meals in the day.

      1. Brilliant, thanks Andy.

        I will treat it as a rest day but double my carb intake (from 92g to 184g).



  24. Hi Andy,

    Do you have a particular site or guide you recommend for estimating calories burnt during various exercises?


  25. Hey Andy,

    I follow your blog constantly, and am currently having a debate with a male bodybuilder friend of mine.

    I am a female ex-sprinter with considerable muscle mass, who trains hard 6 days a week (free weights and twice weekly interval sprints for cardio) I’m currently 70kilos and am trying to cut down to 60kilos, but I really don’t want to slog my guts out doing cardio. My weight loss has been almost non existent due to the fact I’ve established that I am under eating calories (I’ve now sorted this by referring back to your calculations).

    My friend thinks it’s necessary to cut using cardio, I don’t. I think the key to cutting is getting diet spot on.

    I have read your posts, in particular the post about women having a raw end of the deal.

    In your opinion, should I be doing cardio to cut?

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Simone, this doesn’t make sense because it contradicts the energy equation:
      “My weight loss has been almost non existent due to the fact I’ve established that I am under eating calories (I’ve now sorted this by referring back to your calculations).” Did you make a typo?
      “In your opinion, should I be doing cardio to cut?”
      Probably not. It is in your best interest to try without first.

  26. Hey Andy,

    Thankful for this awesome posting. I have a short question here. Suppose I’m already bearing a considerable proportion of body fat (say 20%) with a horrible looking belly and love handles, can the calorie deficit nutrition plan and the advocated weight lifting program collectively form a shredded shape eventually with time? I’m asking this in the context of omitting out cardio altogether as I really really dislike it man. Appreciate your reply! Thanks again.

  27. Great info. I love your content. I’m 5’10 265 lbs. Should I do all weight training or add in some cardio every other day?

    1. Hi Jeff, no I don’t believe it is needed, but we’re assuming sufficient training intensity as will be done if you’re following the guides in the training sections, not a ‘laa dee daa’ workout.

  28. Hey Andy! I want to add some cardio on my sundays (insanity asylum, for performance purposes) my question is, should i eat that day as a regular workout day, or just as a normal rest day? (i’m currently on a LG cut, i’m 24 years old – 75kg – 173cm). Thanks a lot!!

    1. Hi Diego, thanks for the question.
      What is it that you are looking to enhance by doing that conditioning work?

      1. Hi Andy, thanks for the response! (sorry i just saw this post again, i must’ve forgotten to check the follow ups on my mail.)
        I play soccer several times a month, and since i started with LG i noticed my cardiovascular capacity as decreased a little bit (haven’d done any cardio since i started), i get tired much faster, so thats why i would like to add some conditioning. and if you recommend this, should i eat as a workout day that day?

        Also, is it normal that my waist size isn’t getting any smaller yet (2 months of the cut) thats the main area where i accumulate fat, and i thought maybe since i started doing DL’s and Squats my waist muscles are getting bigger so i dont notice any fat decrease in those areas.

        Thanks again!

        1. Hi Diego, thanks for the response. Drop the ‘conditioning’ altogether. Focus on burning off the 10kg rucksack of fat that you’re carrying around on the pitch at the moment and get stronger in the squat and you’ll be a faster, better player. Come back to the conditioning after. Read more here.

  29. Hi Andy,

    I want to swim (about 45min) on each rest day – that is 3 days in a week (Sunday off). I just want to do it, because I like it a lot. What are your suggestions – regarding swimming and nutrition as well. Is it a good idea ? Thanks a lot in advance mate 🙂

  30. Hello Andy,

    I definitely agree that cardio is not an effective weight loss tool. However, I’ve noticed since I took it out of my routine, it is effective for some things. For me personally, the endorphin rush from moderate intensity cardio (running 3ish miles at around 7-8 mph), gives me extra energy and makes me mentally sharper for the rest of the day, and is also an effective appetite suppressant, whereas lifting doesn’t quite give me that endorphin rush, and I have to work harder to have the willpower to hold my diet.

    If I wanted to include a run in my routine for these purposes (mental sharpness..I’m in a PhD program which requires a whole lot of thinking, energy for the rest of the day, etc), can I just eat a few hundred more calories to compensate? Thanks.

    1. Brian thanks for the comment. Whether you choose to use the cardio fat burn, or to add in more carbs to compensate for the energy expenditure depends on your current energy balance, i.e. how well you are currently progressing.
      If you are relatively new to strength training then running may compromise potential newbie gains, so consider trying “brisk walking” to see if you get the same endorphin rush, as this is unlikely to interfere in the same way ore intense cardio will. See “Strength vs Endurance: How does training for one affect the other?

  31. Hello Andy!

    As many people have said before, great site, thanks!

    I do have some thoughts though.
    I work a 9-5 desk job and get little to no excersize throughout the day except when I lift weights (which is about 6 days a week, but I’m going to lower it to 3 days a week and try the RPT thingy).

    Would you still not recomment cardio to a person moving so little?

    1. Burak, thanks for the comment, glad you’ve found it helpful.
      Unless obese or having otherwise recommended by a doctor it isn’t necessary to change your body. Weight training works the cardiovascular system.

  32. Hey Andy…..

    I am a 60 year old man with over 45 years of weight training experience. Unfortunately only in the last 10-15 years has the best training and diet information for non competitive bodybuilders/weight lifters come to light.

    Unfortunately at that age chances of even the most motivated person changing their body more than an iota is, as I,m sure you know, a gazillion times more challenging if not impossible.
    I admire your knowledge, style and generosity.

    Would love some more articles, FB postings, suggested links aimed at us seniors.
    A few questions.

    1- What about importance of cardio for important non fat loss benefits (lower blood pressure, etc.)?

    2-You describe RP weight training 2-3xs per week as the way to go. You also say 3 hours a week is all the weight work needed. How can the few lifts you mention, (short warmup, 5 exercises x 2 sets, 2 minute rest between sets) ever come close to one hour per session?

    3-do you consider kettle bell training weights or cardio?

    4-what changes in IF/RP need to be modified for seniors?


    1. Professor, thanks for the comment.
      a gazillion times more challenging if not impossible.
      I disagree. More challenging yes, but you are exaggerating. The difficulty comes with reduced recovery capacity and previous injury considerations and/or imbalances.
      To answer your questions:
      1. Lifting when done right works your cardio system. But you will want to consult with a doctor in case there is something specific here you need to take into account, and you’ll have to also hope that you have a doctor knows about the CV benefits of training and doesn’t just dish you standard advice.
      2. Rest times and warm up time. You’ll understand when you’ve been doing it for a while and it starts taking that time. However don’t miss the wider point – the workout takes as long as it takes to lift the target weight for the day, there is no workout time target.
      3. Good article here by Arthur Jones. Somewhat strongly put but the message is clear.
      4. Perhaps more space between workouts/ less volume/ longer recovery time between sets/ etc. Due to a decreased recovery capacity.

      I know many guys that have started training post-50 that are now in phenomenal shape.

      Good luck.

  33. So if I were to run extensively (cross country) but not on a day I lift (training days), do I stil use the same macro plan for training or do I eat the same amount of macros I would on a rest day ?

    1. You would want to take a prudent guess at energy expenditure and increase your carb intake by that amount, in most cases.

      1. Dear Andy,

        Thanks for the great site. You made things a lot easier.

        Please help in the following 2 questions:

        1- can I do a full body work out with havey weights insteadmof his program, mainly it is back legs and some accessories. The doctors said not to do chest due to problem in neck, I can do everything else.

        2- can I add 2 days of swimming to the workout. I swim 45 min with 600 cal and 11% fat burned. This is solid numbers

        But why I am asking?

        I am afried that leangains program is best performing in days off as recovery and fat burn. In my case, I will be training for 5 days and recover and cycle the carbs for only 2 days.

        Is it working that way?

        Thanks a million..

        1. Zaher, thanks for the comment. To answer your questions:
          1. Yes absolutely. You may wish to find out specifically where the line is drawn with chest with your doctor. I mean, are presses/dips/pullovers ok?
          2. Don’t train 5 days. I’ve written all about that in the article titled, If it ain’t broken…. I see the “modifying to make better” mistake a lot, so you may find that useful.

  34. hm but can I use some cardio on an off day (3 training days per week) to outrain some overeating?

  35. Hi Andy
    Brilliant article and a brilliant website, this is the first time i have come across IntFas as i’m a muslim and in the uk so my fast would be 20 hours with a 4 hour window to eat bearing in mind i cant consume anything not even water during the fast i was hoping if you could advise if i applied the principles on this website would it work for me or would it do more harm. P.S i would be doing cardio as i play football/soccer

  36. Love the Lion King picture. I agree with most of this, chronic cardio is just plain stupid. At best, using the treadmill to work up a sweat and warm up before lifting is about the only use… If it’s too cold to run outside! Otherwise, just go for a quick jog before and after lifting. Love this stuff, Keep up good work.

  37. So if I train (weights and cardio) at 5 am I should take 10 g of bcaa before, after, and than again around 9 or so? Than break my fast at 12 and stop eating at 8? Do I stick with the typical macronutrients needed, carb cycle days, whats a good meal plan for the if lifestyle? Any suggestions would help I have always been a prisoner to the small meal lifestyle

  38. If an athlete is going to train cardio fasted i.e. cycling for 1.5 to 2 hours could they train the train the first hour with water only to get fat buring benefit and then drink BCAA during the rest to prevent DOMS and muscle catabolism? Is that what you would recommend?

    1. As far as I know, amino acids will only help. So long as there is no glucose in your BCAA supplement, it will be considered “fasting.” Normally, the body tries to use Amino Acids for energy by breaking down your muscle (especially in vigorous exercise). BCAA’s would prevent this from happening. You should not ride hard without taking BCAA. A walk is fine, but any vigorous exercise would require BCAA for you to not lose mass. Hope that helps.

  39. Andy,
    At what point would you recommend a client use BCAA’s for fasted cardio that is for sport? For example, the client that was a cyclist, how did you go about planning his training into the program.

    1. Generally, for any sprint work and the rest of the steady state stuff can be ignored. Exceptions being someone that is ramping up their cardio in a way that’s going to cause severe DOMS (arguably in this case you’d need them). There is no clear cut answer, on yes or no, or quantities.

  40. Cardio exercises have never been my favorite. But after I’ve started taking Super Army & Professional Sports Mega Endurance Formula (by MGNutritionals) I was getting extreme results especially in this kind of trainings. My endurance have increased and my workouts have improved. I’ve been taking a lot of supplements, but this one is really doing it for me and my lifestyle.

    1. Just searched for it. Says it’s “Military Grade” and that “Even intensive training sessions, e.g. 2-3 times a day, will not result in overtraining.” – Must come with a magic wand.

  41. I am guessing that commuting to work by bike, which is about 20km per day, is likely to affect my strength gains and recovery (just starting Stronglifts 5×5), particularly in squats… If I was to cut out the cycling and take the train instead, would you recommend doing it on training days or on rest days?

  42. Hello and first of all thank you ! I was 180KG and i dropped down to 80KG by not eating alot and walking alot then i went to the gym for about 4month and went up to 85KG but still had loss skin and then i got into an accident and got desporessed and started eating like there is no tomrorow and I have gained fat and reached 110KG, im gonna start IF now but my question is Since Im out of my job my vacation starts now I can’t travel anywhere and got few friends so i’ll be in the gym chilling there for along time probly 5hours or so ” Laptop and gadgets ” will be with me

    but i’ll be doing an hour or 2 of weight lifting, and the rest is on learning by mysefl on how to swim and doing simple cardio like walking + trying to run 5K by doing c25K

    so my question is is what i’ll be doing good or bad i have nothing to do in this vacation !

    i’ll be doing IF and eat after i finish my work out

  43. Hi Andy,
    I have a cardio related question here. On Tuesday and Thursday nights I do an hour of Muay Thai, its very cardio intensive .
    I usually lift weights in the mornings but I’m concerned that my Muay Thai and lifting are interfering with each other, leading to sub optimal performance due to recovery time. Since my Muay Thai sessions are fixed, when would be the best time to lift? On Mon/Wed/Fri evenings? Tue/Thur/Sat mornings?


  44. Pingback: Day 039-3 (F, 130208) — Workout Results | New John for a New Year

  45. Hi Andy, just stumbled across your site and im glad i did!
    A year ago i started my weightloss journey at 107kgs, today i weigh 77kg (182cms, 31yr Male). I started IF last week and did 6 days of 16:8 and 1 24hour fast and im loving it, i dropped 1.5kgs which has been my biggest drop in a single week since the beginning (and it wasn’t the cleanest of weeks either!).
    I havn’t stepped in a gym for a year now, ive done 1 round of p90x and im on my 4th round of Insanity which as your probably know is HIIT cardio (6 days a week). My thoughts were to drop all my remaining fat (have a bit to go yet) then start bulking up but im unsure of this process now. I don’t want to put on a heap of muscle, just enough to be in prime condition with a 6 pack :). Do you think i should cut it short and start back at the gym asap or will the cardio get me where i want to be then follow up with some gym time?

    1. Start back at the gym ASAP. Bin or burn those DVD’s. Putting on a heap of muscle quickly is only a concern in fluffy fantasy land, where all the trees grow delicious pizza and all women look like Jessica Alba.

  46. Hypothetically, if you managed to strip all non-essential body fat (including stubborn), when you started to put fat back on again (say as the result of a bulk), would the fat go back on in the exact same pattern it came off – ie stubborn areas get fat again first followed by the rest? Or would it go back on all over evenly?

    I suspect I’m looking for a simple answer to what is probably a very complicated process…

  47. May I reply for you Andy? I think he’s said it about a million times, here is some wisdom from Alwyn Cosgroves regarding the hierarchy of Fat loss, which is worth looked at again and again when one gets confused (https://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1526539) …. but this is the salient quote in my mind:
    “I think whenever we try to pursue two goals at once we tend to compromise results. This is usually because we have a limited resource: time. If our goal is to generate fat loss, then using a periodized training approach with a specific fat loss phase (e.g. four weeks, eight weeks, etc.) where we focus exclusively on fat loss will always yield better results in the long term than trying to juggle two goals at once.

    For example, a powerlifter trying to drop a weight class or lean out will be better served by notpowerlifting for a period of time. By focusing on getting lean and then going back to powerlifting training, he won’t fall into the downward spiral of trying to maintain his lifts and get lean at the same time. A 16 week program that includes 8 weeks of hardcore fat loss training, followed by 8 weeks of powerlifting work, will likely yield better results than 16 weeks of trying to do both simultaneously.”

    From T-Nation: https://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=1526539

    How you get there is your choice, but if you’re doing lean gains, do lean gains, and don’t f-around with all sorts of other stuff and then say it doesn’t work.

  48. Hiya bro. Fantastic site. I like to experiment with various different diets/training regimes. This one is next. 🙂

    My question is how would you go about setting this up if I were doing pilates, yoga, Football x1/week, Muay thai, Running (5miles) x2/week, Lifting x3/week. Each workout would be for about an hour. Ultimately the goal will be to bulk.

    Thanks in advance buddy.


  49. Pingback: FAQ: Leangains Diet and Training | RippedBody.jp

Questions welcomed. (Over 16,000 answered)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *