I began my diet in earnest on April 1st this year (no foolin’). My beginning weight was at 218.8 (in the morning) and my waist was ballooned out to 36 1/2″. My average caloric intake each day is around 2100-2200 calories. This daily diet consists of approximately 230 grams of protein, 210 grams of carbs and 50 grams of fats.
My training program includes four days a week of weight training. Typically, I train chest, triceps and calves on Monday, abs and legs and Tuesday, delts, traps and calves on Thursday and back and biceps on Friday. My training is heavy, alternating between Power Cycles and Mass Cycles. I have been using the MP6 Training Program (www.mp6training.com) all of last year to increase my muscle mass and I’m going to continue to use it as I am dieting to lose the fat because the program worked so well.
As for my cardio, I have been using it sporadically in the first month of my dieting phase. I’ve always believed that if you can lose bodyfat with just your diet and not have to resort to cardio, that is the way to go. In fact, when I won the Natural Mr. Universe in 1992 and the Natural Mr. Olympia in 1998, I used NO cardio at all to prepare for those competitions. Just an extended diet designed to lose the fat slowly without sacrificing any muscle.
However, when I won those competitions, I was in my late 20’s and mid 30’s respectively. Now I am a little bit older and losing fat is much more challenging. The bottom line is that I NOW realize that cardio is essential for me to lose the fat and get ripped.
I write down my morning body weight and my waist measurement every day when I am dieting. In order to keep me motivated and on track, I have a sheet of paper taped to my refrigerator so I can see exactly where I am and how my progress is going and, because of the strategic location of the paper, I look at it several times a day. This helps me in three ways: it keeps me motivated to stay on the diet, I am able to see the “big picture” (my progress over the long term, not just day to day) and it gives me valuable feedback as to the effectiveness of my diet.
My goal each week is to lose a quarter of an inch (1/4″) off my waist each week. I’m not too concerned with the weight because I know that will fluctuate from day to day. However, overall, the weight will go down each week. That’s inevitable.
One week this month, I decided not to do any cardio at all and see what happened. The result? Nothing! I made very little progress during that week off from the dreaded cardio and, when I finally did make progress and dropped my precious 1/4″ off my waist, it took about 8 days instead of the typical 6 or 7.
The type of cardio I engage in is not that taxing because I don’t want to wander into the “catabolic zone” and sacrifice the coveted muscle tissue that I’ve acquired over the last twelve months of hard hitting workouts and increased calories. Typically, I will do 20 minutes consisting of a fast walk on the treadmill after a weight training workout. I set the treadmill machine at 3.2 mph and the incline at 8.0 and go to town, trying not to hang onto the side rails or lose my step when I’m texting and walking.
If I can do this cardio workout every day I train the muscles of my upper body (I wouldn’t even consider trying to walk, on a treadmill or anywhere else, after a leg workout), it will be enough of a cardio workout to make a difference in gradually losing the bodyfat each week.
I prefer doing the post workout cardio as opposed to the early morning cardio. Maybe it’s because I’m not a morning person but I don’t seem to respond very well to doing cardio on an empty stomach. I did this several times over the last month but I didn’t seem to notice any results from it. I prefer to do it after my workout is over when my metabolism is already jacked up. Plus, I get the same results from 20 minutes of cardio post workout as I do from 40 minutes of cardio first thing in the morning. Half the cardio and the same or better results? I’ll take that option every time.
I am also going to start adding in HIIT cardio a couple times a week to increase my fat burning results. HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. By alternating the intensity level of a cardio session, you will burn more calories and increase the metabolic rate even longer after the training is completed.
I have used HIIT for cardio several times in the past. My favorite is to use the stair master (a true torture machine on it’s own) for 15-20 minutes. By alternating the intensity level every two minutes, the workout is much harder and the duration can be much shorter. I alternate between level 7 or 8 for the low end and go up to level 10 for the higher intensity. I start off with 15 minutes and gradually work up to 20 minutes.
Because the HIIT cardio is much more intense, I will only do this type of cardio on non-weight training days. If I tried to do it before a weight training session or even immediately afterwards, I will deplete too much glycogen in my muscles and this will adversely affect my weight training session later in the day.
So, from this point forward, I will do four cardio sessions per week. I will do the treadmill after my workout 3-4 days a week and the HIIT cardio using the stair master 1-2 days per week. I will only do the HIIT cardio on my rest days in order to avoid messing up my workouts and also prevent overtraining and catabolism.
Until next time!