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Cario workout only vs. cardio and strength conditioning

I'm thinking of dropping my mix of cardio and strength conditioning workout to just doing cardio only in the mornings, right after I get up on an empty stomach.

I was looking to hear from anyone who has tried cardio only workouts. Meaning, I know all the arguments about cardio only vs. mixed training, I'd rather not get into a debate about it on this thread.

I'm really just looking to drop some pounds quickly, then add strength training in later. Comments?


Tue. Feb 13, 12:55pm

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You've probably heard it before but...if you want to lose fat your best bet is strength training..raises your metabolism, muscle being more metabolically active than fat, and on and on.

You didn't mention in your posting, but is time a concern? You can do cardio to warm up on days you lift and then hit the weights, alternate with just cardio days.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007, 1:47 PM

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Please read the post before commenting

From the OP:

Good heavens, did you even read the post before commenting?

"I was looking to hear from anyone who has tried cardio only workouts. Meaning, I know all the arguments about cardio only vs. mixed training, I'd rather not get into a debate about it on this thread."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007, 1:55 PM

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I do cardio only but never on an empty stomach. Works for me, I'm in and out and it doesn't seem like a chore. When I was with a trainer years ago, she made me do both and I dreaded going, eventually I stopped altogether. I'm a fan of anything you want to do that you'll actually do, is great.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007, 1:58 PM

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I'm doing pretty much cardio-only right now- running, biking, swimming. I'm definitely not losing weight like I was last year when I was doing cardio and strength.

The caveat here is that I don't have as much to lose now- last year I was 50 pounds overweight, this year I'm just looking to trim off 7-10 pounds of winter weight...

I'm thinking of adding some strength work 1 or 2 nights a week to see what happens...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007, 2:43 PM

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I think strength training helpd to keep it off

I find that strength training helped me to maintain too. Once I have built up the muscle, I can have a bad day or week and still maintain, or at least lose what I gained very quickly.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007, 4:15 PM

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Last year I did all cardio for about 6 months, I lost weight but I couldn't fit into a smaller pant size until I started adding weight training.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007, 4:34 PM

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Just running

I use to just run. I lost a lot of weight but I didn't like how I looked so I added weight training. And now abs galore.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007, 4:50 PM

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I did cardio-only for a few months and got BORED. I also tried doing it on an empty stomach and that was a terrible idea. I'd be all light-headed and weak and queasy after my hour on a cardio machine, and I'd end up feeling crummy all day.

Did just-cardio work? Eh, same results as when I was doing it in combination with weight training.

A few personal trainers that I know non-professionally say that when you've got more than 30 or so pounds to lose, all-cardio is the best plan of attack initially. That's not what they tell their potential clients, because you don't need a personal trainer to use a treadmill, but so much effort is required for a woman to increase her muscle mass that it's not worth battling the increase in appetite that comes along with it.

I returned to mixing it up with very light weight work with 3-lb dumbbells, so about 70% of my workout time is pure cardio and 30% is light-weight-bearing cardio. My goal was to maintain the considerable amount of muscle I've already got and to not build any more while melting off the fat. This combo is working like a dream for me.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007, 6:38 PM

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To 6:38 - this is the best feedback. I never knew that about personal trainers but it seems to be logical. Do you do a specific workout (DVD) or do you do a combo at the gym?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 7:33 AM

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When I switch to cardio only, I have a much harder time maintaining my weight and my shape than if I keep doing 2-3x of weight training each week.

Maybe you feel like weight training is not helping you lose weight because you aren't sweating/getting your heart rate up? I feel that combining cardio and weights (intervals) in the same workout is also very effective for weight loss.

I use the FIRM complete aerobics and weight training DVD and I love it. It burns almost as many calories as a cardio-only workout, but also has a full weight routine for arms, legs and abs included. I get my heart rate up with the aerobics intervals, and then switching to leg press with heavy weights keeps it there.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 8:59 AM

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To 7:33 from 6:38

Well, to be fair to personal trainers, a lot of people hire them for motivation, i.e. paying $40-80 for a workout forces them to go to the gym.

The best example of what I'm talking about is the circuit training classes at the gym. They go by various cute names, but they're the ones that involve dumbbells and bodybars, and the instructor needs to keep the class going at a fast pace to keep your heartrate up. I can't find a video that does this effectively, but after taking those classes at the gym for a few months I can do it on my own at home. If I get bored, I harvest new moves from fitness magazines. And if you don't feel silly, take a pair of those 3-lb dumbbells onto the elliptical or stationary bike with you, reduce the intensity on the machine, and do simple arm moves that won't upset your balance -- I see a few others doing this at my gym, and it's something you'll see personal trainers doing with their clients. It also breaks up the monotony I mentioned.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 10:26 AM

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I used to do only cardio. (I think) I believe that it's about the number of calories you burn. So I trained for a marathon and was able to lose some weight. The problem was, once the marathon was over I didn't really have a routine and I gained most of the weight back. Now, I'm trying doing a little bit of weight work 2x a week. I spend about 20 minutes doing it, and I superset all my exercises (meaning if I do a chest press exercise, then I do a tricep exercise in between each of those sets). So in 20 minutes I'll get in 5-6 exercises. Nothing really heavy.

So to me, I feel like it keeps my sweating and my heartrate up -- almost like cardio. Also, I do weights on days when I do cardio at the gym. Most times after my cardio because I feel like my heartrate is already up.

As for results, I'm not running as much as I did when I trained for a marathon and the pounds are coming off and I feel much better about the muscle tone than when I didn't weight train.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 10:58 AM

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I have been doing cardio only for 6 months now, initially because I had surgery and my doctor recommended working out regularly but avoiding weight training for that period, and I am seeing good results. I do however keep my abs very tight and my posture as correct as I possibly can at all times. This has really helped my form and given me a defined set of abs as the weight has come off. My butt and thighs have firmed up nicely too.

Weight loss has been slow, and I believe that's because by the time I started doing this I had very little weight left to lose (having lost most of it by restricting calories) and I have definitely been eating more since I've been working out daily. However keeping it off with cardio alone has not been a problem. I'm very happy with what cardio has done for me, but I've been considering adding some light weights for more definition in my arms and back.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 1:45 PM

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i have done cardio everyday for the last year and a half mostly in the am before eating...i have a few months mixed some weights..and a few months did water arobics for toning and did not see ant weight loss change from doning one or the other....my weight loss has been mostly from the right food choices not the exercise since from aug till jan i stopped doing WW stii did 30-45 min of cardio and still gained from the food i was choosing..

Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 4:10 PM

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From the OP: Thanks

You've all given me plenty of "food" for thought.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet, except maybe take the rest of this week off to regroup.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007, 4:18 PM

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I've learned a lot from this thread too.

Thursday, February 15, 2007, 9:21 AM

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hey, taking the rest of the week off? at least go for a walk to keep yourself in the habit and stay moving - and it will be time to think about how you want to proceed. :)

Thursday, February 15, 2007, 10:09 AM

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Id like to think that cardio alone will help...as one of the previous posters mentioned, I was told by a doctor NOT to lift weights (I have a shoulder problem). However, I am allowed to do some core exercises on an exercise ball and Im hoping that will do some toning for me...

Thursday, February 15, 2007, 11:50 AM

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Cardio workout only vs. cardio and strength conditioning

A month back I started a cardio only training program to help take off about 20 lbs (I still lift about 1 day every two weeks) and it seams to be working. I lifted weights for years but with lifting comes increased pounds so to stay in shape I started running in the morning before breakfast. After just a month weeks I love the program- I'm not starving in the morning and I'm losing weight every week (avg 2.5lbs a week). I am losing some muscle mass but I just have a different goal now. I'm sure after I get my weight down I will increase my strength training but I was somewhat muscular 202lbs a month ago and now I'm a much leaner 191. I started running by running 3 miles a day-4days a week and now I'm doing about 25 miles in those same 4 days. I also cut my calories but running at a solid pace for 30-75 min is a great way to drop weight quick.

Monday, February 19, 2007, 3:47 PM

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An additional note about the above post - I find that running is some sort of "super" exercise. If I am in shape to run, I can do anything else with ease. And, no other cardio I have done burns as many calories as quickly as running, especially anything that I could do at home or outside. Maybe a serious kickboxing session would burn as many, I don't know for sure.

Monday, February 19, 2007, 6:18 PM

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I have about 25 lbs to lose and when I tried weight training, I got hungrier and the weight didn't come off. I think if you are just starting out and you have a bit more weight to lose cardio is good to take off some of the fat. If you are doing weight training w/ a lot of fat to lose you might not see results cause the muscles would be under a layer of fat.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007, 11:00 AM

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Cario workout only vs. cardio and strength conditioning

Try getting various DVDs at your local library. It changes up your workout and keeps you from getting bored. Some may add some strength training but it is a good way to mix it up.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009, 3:40 AM

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About 5 years ago, I was doing mixed training.

Recently, I've been doing cardio only due to time contraints.

End results - I had a better sculpted, burned more calories, more energy, better lab tests when I mixed.

OP - this is a great thread!!



Wednesday, February 04, 2009, 12:17 PM

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I have been doing all cardio: 1 hour of elliptical (on the "cardio" setting - not "manual"!) and I have lost nearly 20 lbs since January (it's now May)
It has worked wonders for me. The key is keeping your heartrate up and sweat, sweat, sweat. I cannot stay focused with weight training, I just feel like I'm wandering around from machine to machine - not for me. I just plug my earbuds into the elliptical and go! I started at 20 mins and each week I would add 5 more mins eventually getting to an hour. I feel amazing, and more energetic!! I highly recommend cardio to lose extra pounds!
Watch out new bikini!!!

Sunday, May 03, 2009, 11:07 PM

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Jillian Michaels says that cardio is what gets the weight off, while weights are what give you shape. Having more muscle also raises your resting calorie burn. She's a big fan of very intense workouts that keep your heart rate up, both for resistance training and for cardio. She also says that working out first thing before eating is a bad idea, because for a workout your cells need energy, and with no food you will eat your muscle (my technical terms, here. :-) You need some protein and some carbs 1/2 to 1 hour before your workout, but not much - it doesn't have to me a "meal."

Monday, May 04, 2009, 10:48 AM

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When I started my weight loss journey in 2006 I did ONLY running on a treadmill or outside for probably a year. The reason - I was getting married, we rented a house and I didn't want to spend the $ on a gym membership and I don't really like videos. I got an old treadmill for free and started running at least 5 times a week. I lost all my weight without any strength training.

HOWEVER - I wasn't very strong or muscular and when my DH and I joined a gym a year or so later I started doing strength training which helped tone me up and drop a couple more pounds.

Monday, May 04, 2009, 1:27 PM

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Running only

A lot of posters mention running in these threads as the large part of their workout routine. Has any women gone from about 130 to 110 using just running? How much did you run a week?

Friday, May 08, 2009, 12:03 PM

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Lost 140lbs

I went from 300lbs down to just under 160lbs (male, 6'1, 44yo) in a little
under 3 years. Changed my diet AND just did cardio.

To me, cardio was a no brainer. Its very easy. I concentrate on low
impact cardio such as walking or biking.

My goal is to simply burn calories.

I guess I would have a little more tone in my arms if I included some
weight training. I just can't get to that place to do it so I don't. I
enjoy the cardio so that is what I do.

Something is better than nothing and you should do what you like.
Like on poster said earlier, he was making himself to weight training
and he was actually going to the gym less. Now that he cut it out
all together he goes much more often.

Cardio only has worked for me and everyone says I look great!

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Thursday, July 30, 2009, 8:24 AM

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You need both. And you need flexibility.

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