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Should you do cardio and weight lifting separately or together?

Does cardio in the morning on an empty stomach really burn more fat?
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Question:
I Just purchased Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM) and I have totell you that I feel it’s the most informative book I’ve ever pickedup on nutrition. I just have two quick questions about working outthat I didn’t find the answers to in your book.

I’m an early riser and I work out at 4:30 am. I prefer to get everythingdone and out of the way in the morning. My workout usually consists of45 minutes of weight training and then 30 minutes of cardio work. Whatif anything should I eat before I get to the weight room to help maximizemy fat burning?

Also, I’ve heard different things about when is the best time of day totrain. What are your thoughts on workout timing? I do my weightsand cardio together but have been getting confused because some expertssay you should split it up. Do you recommend that cardio and weights bedone separately or together and which should come first? For example:(1) wake up, eat, cardio, lift, or (2) wake up, cardio, eat, lift laterin day?

Answer:
There’s probably some truth to the idea that each individual hasa certain natural biorhythm which dictates their personal best time totrain (morning people vs. night people, etc).

I’ve also seen some research literature which cited hormonal ebbs and tidesas evidence for one “perfect time of day” for everyone to lift weights,but since there is so much variation from person to person, I’m cautiousabout making generalizations.

For example, I experimented one season with very early morning training.I gave it a fair trial for three months straight without missing. I got upat 5:00 am to eat meal one, then hit the weights at 5:30 am.

But I found that my workouts suffered greatly from this schedule. I was notmentally or physically primed to train at that early hour. I prefer to trainlate in the morning after I’ve been awake several hours and I have a coupleof meals in me.

If you’ve discovered a certain time that “feels” good to you and suitsyour lifestyle, go with it. I don’t believe there is a single best timeof day to train.

I’ve seen many people get results while training at just about any time ofthe day or night. I even know a few people who train at midnight or in thewee hours of the morning at a 24 hour health club or home gym.

As for eating prior to workouts, if you are only doing cardio early inthe morning, then it’s okay to do the cardio without eating anythingbeforehand. Although controversial, many fitness experts believe thatit’s even more more effective for fat loss to do cardio in a fasted state.However,the same is not true for strength training.

Most people will compromise their workout performance too much by weighttraining on empty. Instead, I suggest you eat before weight trainingin the morning and especially if you are doing weights and cardio togetherin one long workout.

If you are the type of person who has trouble training too soon aftera full meal because the food sits “heavily” in your stomach, or makes youfeel nauseous, then at least have a light meal or a meal replacement drinkthat’s not too filling. Then be sure to take one of your largest mealsof the day immediately after training.

Judging by the number of times I’ve heard questions about workout timing,a lot of people are concerned about doing it “wrong.” Well, the only wayyou can really get it “wrong” is by doing nothing, but you can definitelyfine tune your workout timing approach based on your objectives.

If training in the early morning works well for you, then I’d suggestyou continue. If you’re not getting the results you want, you mightconsider experimenting with a different training time

The ideal training time will depend on:

(1) your goals/primary objective (fat loss versus gaining mass)
(2) practical considerations like job, family and time available
(3) whether you’re doing cardio only or cardio + weights the same day.

When considering workout timing issues, a good rule of thumb to follow is:

“Never compromise your primary objective.”

When fat loss is the primary objective, and it’s just a cardio day,then doing your cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach hasmany benefits for increasing fat loss, not to mention it’s a great way tostart the day, physically as well as psychologically. Eat your first mealimmediately afterwards.

If you’re on a fat loss program and you’re doing weights and cardio thesame day, you have options:

One, do your cardio early in the A.M. on an empty stomach,then eat meal one immediately afterwards. Hit your weights in aseparate session later in the day – late morning, afternoon orevening.

Two, since working out twice a day isn’t practical for everyone,a second option is to eat your first meal, give it just enough timeto start digesting, then hit the weights first and your cardio second,followed immediately by your second meal.

On a muscle growth program, things are different. I don’t recommendmorning cardio in a fasted state on muscle mass building programs.

In fact, I recommend keeping the cardio to a minimum on muscle gainingprograms: 3 days per week for 20-30 minutes is usually plenty. Ectomorphs(skinny, small jointed, slow-gaining body types) might do even less cardioand extreme ectomorphs may do none at all.

On the muscle mass program, split up your cardio and weights if that’spractical and space them out a good eight hours or so (lift in morning, cardioat night, or vice versa). Eat plentifully after each workout session.

If two separate sessions – one cardio and one weights – doesn’t fit yourschedule, no worries, just do your cardio workout immediately afteryour weight training in the same session

If you’re doing cardio & weights in the same session, and your primeobjective is bodybuilding, then always hit the weights first and cardiolast because you will have the most strength and energy for whatever youdo when you are fresh at the beginning of the workout. Put the mostenergy into your primary objective.

One final suggestion is to get yourself on a regular schedulerather than to train at random times that vary from day to day.

People who have a designated workout time every day,regardless of whether it’s 4:30 in the morning, 12:00 noon or 10:00 pmin the evening, tend to be the most consistent in the long run and manybecome fiercely religious about their “sacred workout hour.”

The big advantage of getting onto this kind of regular schedule is thatit will begin to become a habit. Eventually, your “training time” can becomeas deeply ingrained into your daily habit patterns as taking a showerevery morning and brushing your teeth before bed every night.

That’s the point where your workouts no longer require willpower andthey become more difficult NOT to do than to do… and that is a greatplace to arrive at.

Burn The Fat is the most detailed, “one-stop” guide to fat burning nutrition you’ll ever find.That’s why so many people call it “the fat loss bible.”

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