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Fat Burn vs. Muscle Gain
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SkylerF posted:
I am a 20 year old moderately active college student who is looking to drop 15-20 pounds. I am dieting and logging my calories in a journal. I have already lost 6 or 7 pounds and I am wondering if I am approaching my trainning the right way, typically I do 45 min to an hour of cardio with a combonation of stairmaster and elyptical followed by 45 minutes of weight trainning. I was wondering in what order should I be doing my cardio/weight trainnning and how many days a week I should be doing each.

Thanks
Skyler
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Rich Weil, MEd, CDE responded:
Hi Skyler,

Most people do cardio first, then weights. The thing is that you do so much cardio that it might wear you out for weights, so experiment with weights first and see how it feels.

I think you also ought to consider interval training for cardio instead of a straight 60-minute workout. Try it 1-2 times per week. The idea is to set up work to active rest ratios (work:active rest), and as you get more fit, you decrease the rest time and increase the work time. A simple example for a runner would be the following. But you can do intervals in the same way on the stairmaster or elliptical, just vary the speed or resistance. Here's an example for a runner.


If you currently run for 30 minutes at 6mph, try jogging for 5 minutes to warm up, then increase the speed to say 6.5mph and jog for 1-2 minutes (less time if you can't go that long), then jog again for a few minutes at your normal speed, then run again at the faster speed, and so on until you reach your time limit. The work:active rest ratios would be 2:3 if you ran for 2 minutes at 6.5mph and jogged for 3 minutes at 6mph. Over the course of the next few months you will get more fit if you continue with this type of training.

You can also get more specific and use heart rate. Your heart rate is an excellent indication of how hard you are working. For example, if your heart rate is at 70% of your predicted max when you jog at 6mph, then start at that speed and then either increase the speed or elevation, and increase it so that your heart rate increases to 85% or even 90% for 1-3 minutes to start, then back to your jogging speed at a heart rate of 70%.

That's a starting recommendation. Over time, your conditioning will improve and then your heart rate will be lower at the higher speeds and you can spend more time at the work speeds and less during the active rest period. You can always vary the ratios if they turn out to be too hard or too easy. 1:3 is a good starting ratio.

Shoot for 2-3 days of lifting and 4-5 days of cardio. That's a good mix.

Feel free to post back if you have more questions.

Take care,
Rich
 
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BobDozor responded:
What are your goals?

One pole of fitness is cardiovascular capacity the other pole is strength. It always a matter of balance between them.

If you want to gain muscle mass, do the weight training first!


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Rich is an exercise physiologist and certified diabetes educator. He is director of the New York Obesity Research Center Weight Loss Program at St. Lu...More

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