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Do I Need To Do Cardio to Achieve an Amazing Physique?

You may have heard that only cardio can burn fat. Others say cardio “kills gains”, but which is it? Read on to learn all about cardio.


  • The only requirement for fat loss is an energy deficit.

  • It can be anything from walking to playing with the kids or gardening.

  • We use effort ratings to determine the best type, duration, and frequency of cardio for each goal.

  • Cardio interferes with training performance and recovery the more it is “endurance-focused”.

  • Cardio should never trump training recovery and performance.

  • Keep cardio away from resistance training sessions.

In short, no! Other than resistance training, there is no one form of exercise that you absolutely must do to achieve a great physique. However, to understand the role of cardio in a transformation, we need to learn a little bit more about what it does.

What is “cardio”?

Formal cardio refers to structured workouts performed as part of your training program with a specific goal, for example:

  • Develop cardiovascular fitness.

  • Offset an otherwise sedentary lifestyle.

  • Burn calories.

There are three main types of formal cardio that differ according to their training intensity (how hard you work), which you can measure using the following rate of perceived exertion (RPE) scale.

Prioritise resistance training.

If you can only go to the gym three times a week and don't have other options, resistance training should always take precedence over aerobics.

A healthy diet and regular exercise outside the gym can help you gain fitness, lose weight, and stay active. To build muscle, you must lift weights.

Formal cardio has several physical and practical advantages:

MISS and HIIT both increase work capacity, which benefits resistance training.

Hard work builds mental toughness.

If you are short on time and cannot do many steps, a MISS or HIIT workout can quickly increase your daily physical activity levels.

Many of our clients enjoy formal cardio, especially group fitness classes.

The low skill component allows novices to push themselves further than they could with weights.


An exercise's intensity can have a significant impact on its compatibility with resistance training.


Low-intensity activity (RPE 1-4) maintained for 30 minutes on an incline treadmill.

LISS is not intense enough to hinder recovery or performance after resistance training. LISS is used in training to increase calorie burn. You can use LISS to help meet your daily step goal by walking on the treadmill for ten minutes before your resistance training workout.

Moderately Stable State (MISS)

An extended period of moderate-intensity activity (RPE 5-6), such as a 5-km run.

The main issue with MISS is that your body adapts to the type of training you do. However, MISS and resistance training place opposing demands on your body.

MISS trains your muscles to work at lower intensities for longer periods of time. This shouldn't be an issue if you limit your MISS. Instead, use HIIT to avoid the issue.

Interval Training (HIIT)

Alternates high-intensity exercise (RPE 7-10) with low-intensity recovery (RPE 1-4), e.g., sprinting and walking. Most group fitness classes, like spinning and circuit training, are HIIT workouts.

As with resistance training, the high-intensity of HIIT and time spent working versus resting results in complementary rather than competing adaptations.

It's the same as lifting a heavy weight ten times and then resting for the same amount of time.

You can only recover from so much training, and MISS and HIIT add to the overall amount of exercise-related stress on your body. Remember to do your cardio in the same week as your resistance training.

Formal cardio advice

If you train three to four times per week and hit your NEAT goal, you don't need a formal cardio component.

If you resistance train three times a week, you can only do two cardio workouts (MISS or HIIT).

If you resistance train four times a week, you can only do one cardio workout (MISS or HIIT).

There is no upper limit for LISS cardio because it does not interfere with recovery or workout performance.

If doing both on the same day, do cardio after resistance training. Cardio should be done on a non-resistance training day.



My name is Steven Goldstein

With over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, I have worked with clients of all ages and fitness levels. From professional athletes to individuals aiming to lose weight, I have helped countless people achieve their goals and improve their overall health through customized training and nutrition plans.

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Consistency leaves clues

Hundreds of clients of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities have put their health in our hands over the years and achieved truly remarkable results. 

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