It is almost impossible for me to recommend an exact cardio routine unless I know the diet someone is following. If someone is dieting hard and is already “carb depleted”, I am going to recommend a different cardio routine than someone who spent their past 4 days eating pizza and pasta. This is one of those cases, where a one-size-fits-all approach does not work.
[A picture of a man and woman doing intervals outdoors. This type of brief workout is perfect for someone who is following a clean low calorie diet.]
What is The Perfect Condition for the Body to Drop Body Fat?
There is a certain state that lends itself well to dropping body fat. That state is slightly “carb depleted”. When the body is storing a limited amount of carbs in the muscles, it tends to access stored body fat for energy. If someone is “carbed up” all the time, they are very unlikely to get lean.
Some Common Indicators That The Body Is “Carbed Up”
If you experience a 2 pound weight gain overnight, it is a good indicator that your body is carbed up. If you get really “pumped” when you lift, you are probably carrying more carbs in your system than is optimal for fat loss. If you look slightly puffier than normal, or your muscles look bigger than normal…you are probably too carbed up to get the best fat burning effect from your workouts.
The Irony About Having A Lot of Carbs in Your System
Excessive carbs in your system can give a big “pump” to the muscles during a workout. What happens when the muscles are pumped is that it can temporarily minimize the appearance of body fat. A lot of guys love going to the gym because for that 1-2 hour period of time, they can look much better than normal. The irony is that although they look better than normal while lifting, they are less likely to burn fat during their workout…so this condition will make them look worse when they are away from the gym (when it really matters).
How to Do Cardio to Quickly Reduce the Carbs in Your System
I typically tell people to avoid Marathon Cardio: which is an intense version of cardio for prolonged periods of time. Think along the lines of jogging hard for 45-60 minutes. That being said, this is a good way to burn carbs and get back to the best condition to burn body fat. So instead of waiting for 2-3 days of clean eating to get back to a slightly carb depleted state, you can get there within 12-24 hours.
When to Incorporate Marathon Cardio
This type of cardio should be used on a limited basis to get the body back to where it needs to be. Let’s say you ate pizza on Saturday and went to a BBQ on Sunday, then if you felt a bit “carbed up” you would do a longer more drawn out cardio session on Monday to get your body back to fat burning mode. From that point on you would stick to HIIT or bodyweight circuits followed by a short duration of low-to-moderate intensity steady state cardio. You would also clean up your diet for the remainder of the week.
Longer or Shorter Sessions Depending Upon Your Condition
The main thing to remember is that if you are dieting hard, you need to be careful that the cardio sessions are brief and focused (this diet and workout combo is the fastest way to lose weight). If your diet is loose you will want to incorporate longer cardio sessions to get your body to the right condition. At this point, you will want to stick with mainly HIIT and tighten up the diet.
Note: Just use this type of cardio to avoid the state of being too carbed up. The real fat loss results will happen when you combine intense HIIT and Intervals in a slightly carb-depleted state.