8 Week Plan - Combine Weights and Cardio For Muscle or Fat Loss | TRAIN

8 Week Plan – Combine Weights and Cardio For Muscle or Fat Loss

Drudging through the same Tabata workout on the treadmill is a surefire way to slap a wet cloth on your fat burning furnaces. Here’s how to stoke your burn-ability with an 8-week plan that combines weights and cardio for muscle/fat loss.

Trainer: Brandan Fokken IFBB physique pro, Bodybuilding.com and Dymatize athlete.

 

Why plan your cardio for muscle or fat loss?

Hear the word cardio, and the projectionist in your head pops up a picture of a treadmill, right?

Running that treadmill into the ground day after day really may not be helping your training overall because there’s more is to be gained by switching up your cardio routine. Your body is very good at adapting to the demands put on it.

Think of a weight lifter who is lifting 4-5 days a week and does cardio 2-3 times per week. He uses fast twitch muscle fibers, which are quick to contract, but use more energy and tire out much faster than slow twitch muscle fibers. His body will change accordingly.

The muscles will grow but at the expense of endurance. However, he can switch up cardio routines and do the right amount to maintain decent endurance while still gaining strength and muscle.

The key to ensuring your cardio training remains effective is variety, always keeping your body guessing about what you’re going to throw at it next. If you plan this out, it becomes a lot easier and more fun as you structure some variety into your cardio.

 

muscle and cardio plan

 

Are you doing it right?

First, evaluate where you’re at with weight training and cardio training. If you’re doing cardio daily, but want to start a building phase where cardio is a minimal 2-3 times per week, it wouldn’t make sense to do just 3 cardio sessions the next week. You want to plan it out so you taper down the weekly amount.

Next, consider your goals, as they’re vital for planning your routine. It’s wise to start with a moderate number (3-4) of cardio sessions per week. The only time you would start out higher is if you are currently doing cardio 6+ times/week, then you would look to do 4-5 or continue with the same amount.

Once set, you can then plan how you want to progress toward your goal. If you’re looking to build muscle or just stay healthy, you can slowly drop your cardio to a minimum of 2 sessions per week. You can also remain at that moderate amount while simply switching the type of cardio and lengths of each session.

On the other hand, people looking to cut body fat or lose weight in general should increase up to 7 days a week over the course of their cut. It’s okay to take things slow, only adding in one cardio session every week or every other week.

 

8 week muscle and cardio plan

 

What type of cardio are you doing?

Lastly, consider the type of cardio (HIIT, MISS, LISS) and what equipment to use. Cardio can burn muscle. However, this is not true of all cardio. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is best for retaining muscle mass and can actually help to increase it.

Low and moderate steady state cardio (LISS & MISS) are where you can run into the muscle breakdown. Another thing to note is that HIIT will burn more calories than any other type, and you’ll spend less time on cardio. Unless you’re training for a marathon or an extreme endurance sport, HIIT should be your go-to for cardio.

LISS and MISS should be the majority of your cardio if you’re working for endurance or general weight loss.

 

All change for faster results

Change is something you should do on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. By varying the equipment, you don’t allow your body to adapt to any particular exercise. Therefore, the effectiveness of any and all exercises remains high and you can continue to burn the maximum amount of calories in the least time.

It’s also important to hit different muscle groups from different angles to prevent any muscular and ligament imbalances so that you can continue your healthy lifestyle for decades down the road.

Plus, changing up cardio routines increases adherence to your program.

Changing things can be as simple as introducing an incline to the treadmill if you usually walk on it flat. Otherwise, you can switch from cycling to swimming, or running to cycling – you can switch to whatever interests you.

 

What cardio for your goals?

Just keep in mind what type of cardio best fits your goals. Even the smallest changes can make a dramatic difference, enough to power through plateaus and get your metabolism burning higher again. You can also make bigger changes. Let’s say you typically do one exercise for 20-30 minutes, you could try doing 3 different exercises for 10 minutes each.

Another two simple changes you can make are increasing and decreasing the session time and switching the type (HIIT/MISS/LISS). Switching up the length of time can be dependent on your weekly progress. If you’re trying to lose weight, you can probably shorten the length of a couple sessions by 5-10 minutes.

However, if you didn’t lose any weight (or gained weight), then you will want to increase your cardio times. When it comes to deciding what type of cardio to switch to, you should keep your goals in mind while factoring in your work/life schedule.

If you know next week is going to be chaotic, then your best choice may be doing HIIT because it takes less time. Or perhaps it’s going to be particularly nice outside next week so you ditch the ‘mill and walk outside.

 

Putting it all together

Planning everything out can be tedious, but you have all the tools you need from here to get started. You have some goals in mind, you know the types of cardio and which one(s) best fit for you, and you know how to shake up your routine and adjust it as you progress.

What follows are sample programs together to give you an even better idea of how your cardio routine should look. Pay attention to the similarities and differences from week to week and see if you can’t find some commonalities and trends (hint: look at how the program progresses with # of sessions & minutes).

For example, you’ll notice weeks 3 & 4 are all full body movements and all are HIIT. Now you can plan out your new routine and get after your goals with purpose.

 

Your 8 Week Cardio and Weights Plan

 

The Goal: Muscle building or maintenance

Weeks 1 and 2

Muscle GroupExerciseCardio + Time
ChestCycling15 min HIIT
Back--
RestStepmill20 min LISS
Legs--
Shoulders--
ArmsCycling15 min HIIT
Rest--

 

Weeks 3 and 4

Muscle GroupExerciseCardio + Time
ChestRow machine15 min HIIT
Back--
RestSwimming15 min HIIT
Legs--
Shoulders--
ArmsRow machine15 min HIIT
Rest--

 

Weeks 5 and 6

Muscle GroupExerciseCardio + Time
Chest--
BackTreadmill sprints20 min HIIT
Rest--
Legs--
Shoulders--
ArmsStepmill sprints20 min HIIT
Rest--

 

Weeks 7 and 8

Muscle GroupExerciseCardio + Time
Chest--
BackRow machine10 min HIIT
Rest--
Legs--
ShouldersElliptical20 min LISS
Arms--
RestCycling10 min HIIT

 

The Goal: Cutting and fat loss

Weeks 1 and 2

Muscle GroupExerciseCardio + Time
Chest/TricepsTreadmill sprints15 min HIIT
Back/Biceps--
RestCycling20 min LISS
Legs--
ShouldersCycling20 min LISS
Full body workout--
Rest--

 

Weeks 3 and 4

Muscle GroupExerciseCardio + Time
Chest/TricepsStepmill sprints10 min HIIT
Back/BicepsElliptical20 min LISS
Rest--
Legs--
ShouldersIncline treadmill20 min LISS
Full body workoutRow machine15 min HIIT
Rest--

 

Weeks 5 and 6

Muscle GroupExerciseCardio + Time
Chest/Triceps--
Back/BicepsSwimming15 min HIIT
RestRow machine15 min HIIT
Legs--
ShouldersCycling20 min LISS
Full body workoutSwimming15 min HIIT
RestRow machine15 min HIIT

 

Weeks 7 and 8

Muscle GroupExerciseCardio + Time
Chest/TricepsCycling15 min LISS
Back/BicepsRow machine20 min HIIT
RestStepmill15 min LISS
Legs--
ShouldersStepmill15 min LISS
Full body workoutCycling20 min HIIT
RestElliptical15 min LISS

 

For more weights and cardio plans, nutrition tips, interviews and workouts, get TRAIN magazine direct into your inbox every month for free by signing up to our newsletter

TRAIN

Written by

You may also like...

  • • Massive insights
  • • Train like the pros
  • • Huge betting tips
  • • Outrageous winners!