Cardio, Strength or Diet…What’s Most Important?

Cardio, Strength or Diet…What’s Most Important?


Good Morning Everyone!

We are 1 week into the Plank Challenge and I know many of you are already stronger!!!  We are also just past the half way mark for the Biggest Loser Challenge!  How’s everyone doing?  Are you where you thought or hoped you would be at this point in the challenge?  I wanted to share something that I hope will be useful to all of you whether you’re participating in the challenge or not.

Below is a visual aid to help you understand how to prioritize the 3 major components of your exercise/wellness program. 

The vast majority of people do just the opposite of what this illustration shows.  More often than not, people will say that Cardio is the most important aspect of their training program and they spend limited time with weights. In order for your body to burn fat it needs two things….lean muscle mass and a caloric deficit.  As you see in the illustration, Diet is the foundation and biggest priority in a successful fitness program.  You can’t expect to burn fat and/or lose weight if after a 600-800 calorie deficit workout, you choose to refuel with a Big Mac, fries and a coke🙂.

The second most important part is Weight Training.  Lifting heavy and lifting hard is crucial to building lean muscle mass.  The more of it you build, the faster your metabolism runs and the leaner you become.

Cardio is the third most important part of your program.  If you’re physically able, most of your Cardio should consist of short durations of high intensity followed by short durations of recovery.  Naturally for people new to exercise or those with health limitations, a slower and less intense Cardio plan should be in place. 

To put some numbers to the sections of the triangle above, think of Diet being 70% of what you do, Weight Training being 20% of what you do and Cardio being the remaining 10%.  The weight training and cardio percentages may fluctuate depending on where you are in your journey or if you are training for a specific event.  The most important percentage that should never fluctuate, is your diet. 

If your current routine only consists of cardio, you will lose weight.  However, when you are burning calories you are burning fat AND lean muscle mass.  Unless you do strength training with your cardio (focusing more on strength), you will continue to lose lean muscle mass. We want lean muscle mass so we can stay strong, protect our bones and burn more calories throughout the day.

Metabolic training is a very effective way to burn fat, build and keep lean muscle mass.  P90X, Shaun T’s T25 and Jillian Michael’s Body Revolution are all good examples of Metabolic training.  I will send an email out next week with a more in depth explanation of the benefits of Metabolic training. 

Below is an example of what a weekly workout plan would look like following the program above:

Sunday = Rest

Monday = 30min strength training : 15min intense cardio intervals

Tuesday = 30min strength training : 15min intense cardio intervals

Wednesday = 30min steady state cardio (walking or steady jog) or less intense cardio intervals

Thursday = Rest

Friday = 40min strength training : 10min steady state cardio : 10min intense cardio intervals

Saturday = 30min strength training : 10min steady state

If you can reprogram your thinking to understanding this formula, you will be more efficient than ever before and will see progress at a much higher rate.

This past weekend I attended a Fitness Convention.  Our keynote speaker was Todd Durkin who was in the Top 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness for both 2012 and 2013!  I learned so much from him but the thing that stuck with me was his motto “10 In – 10 Out” which can be applied to anything in life.  If you’re effort is a “10” in the gym, at work or at home, you can expect your results to be a “10”….Success!!  You’re goals are worth it…10 In – 10 Out!!!!

Yours in Health and Wellness,


Comments are closed.