Do your cardio like this to avoid muscle loss!

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Losing body fat is easy as 123. You just have to be in a caloric deficit (eat less, train more). Losing fat without losing your muscle mass? That's very hard. Almost impossible to do, that is why most dieting people take a step forward with bulking then take a step back with cutting weight. We'll show you how to avoid this mistake.

You have to take three things into consideration when you're planning to lose fat with cardiovascular exercise:

  1. Cardio should be effective for fat burning
  2. It should also be time-saving in a way
  3. It should only burn fat, not muscle

This is like the "triangle" of work: out of the above mentioned 3 criteria, only 2 can come true. A work can be:

  1. Fast
  2. Cheap
  3. As of high quality

So the employees work fast and the result is high quality, then it won't be cheap. If their work is fast and cheap, then it's not high quality. You get the picture. Let's see how the triangle stands in regards to cardio. Does the same rule apply here, meaning that cardio cannot be effective, time-saving and muscle preserving at the same time?


Bodybuilders just love and use LISS (Low-Intensity Steady State) cardio every day. This time-consuming exercise normally eats up 60 minutes from your daily life but spares the muscles pretty nice because it requires little to no muscle work (if you get the pump, that's bad in this case).

Its disadvantage? LISS burns only a few calories, and you need to do it every single day. It’s proven to be effective, you can lose fat with it, but you have to be a time millionaire to do it every day. Another benefit of LISS is that you can do it in front of your PC and you can watch a movie while you’re exercising.

Is it effective? Yes, it is.
Is it time-saving? No, it’s not.
Is it muscle preserving? Yes.

The cardio

Cardio is basically the same thing as LISS, the only exception is the higher intensity. LISS means walking or jogging, while cardio means running. If you run, you can burn more calories, it also increases your body's metabolic rate much more than jogging would. That sounds wonderful, but unfortunately, it doesn’t only burn body fat, it also burns muscle mass because it requires moderate muscle work. Cardio is also much more inconvenient than LISS because you are required to work harder if you choose this type of exercise.

Cardio is effective when it comes to fat burning, but it fails in every other field: you can’t get over it much faster than LISS, and it also burns muscles (especially when you are in a caloric deficit). Although the point of this article is to reveal what type of cardiovascular exercise if the best if you want to preserve muscle loss, I have to add that cardio is also good for your heart, can improve the function of the circulatory system, increases lung capacity and overall fitness, but at the same time it causes more wear and tear in the joints than LISS.

Is it effective? Yes.
Is it time-saving? Not really.
Is it muscle preserving? Nope.


We have written about HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) in an article before and came to the conclusion that it is one of the best things to do if you want to burn fat without losing too much muscle. That is not the end of the story because HIIT is not for everybody, so please keep on reading.

It requires even more effort than normal cardio because it consists of short sprints and resting periods in a 1:2 ratio, and you can do it under 20 minutes. Because it is a mix of LISS and cardio, it lands between the middle in connection of muscle preservation. You can spare more muscle with HIIT than with cardio but you can spare less of your hard-earned muscles than you would with LISS. You see, the golden mean is not always the best.

Just like every other form of exercise, HIIT also has additional benefits besides fat burning. But keep in mind that if you choose HIIT, you will have to literally work your ass off, no pun intended. And you can’t avoid muscle loss with it completely. On top of its disadvantages, you need a lot of energy to get through HIIT, and if you have weight lifting workout on the same day, your performance could be slightly worse (you'll have less energy for the workout). So our conclusion about HIIT is the following:

Is it effective? Yes.
Is it time-saving? Yes.
Is it muscle preserving? More than cardio but less than LISS.

The Lowery method – can it be better than HIIT?

Let’s examine another style of cardio which was created by a bodybuilding professor, Dr Lonnie Lowery based on his personal experiences. The most important thing about his method is that he has done his cardio sessions in the morning (fasted), on an inclined treadmill, and he only consumed supplements before the workout. No solid foods are allowed here.

Lowery has been experimenting with his cardio sessions for a long time. First, he consumed L-glutamine, before fasted cardio, other times he drank a protein shake while exercising. He found out that the best muscle-preserving combination was casein with L-leucine. He found that out by a very scientific way: he went to his lab, hooked himself up to the metabolic cart, tracked his fat oxidation throughout the session and drank his leucine-casein drink.

The rate of fat oxidation was optimal, he burned all calories by fat stores while his muscles were preserved. His workout was LISS in conversation pace (he was able to speak whole sentences without panting. He drank his protein shake with a few grams of L-leucine three times during his workout: the first portion he sipped at the 15th minute, the next third he drank at minute 30, and the last at the 45th-minute mark. The results were mind-blowing:

"With casein hydrolysate and a few grams leucine, my fat burning remained in high gear during my optimized aerobic session, while my muscles were fully protected.” - he claimed1.

Let’s see how the Lowery method looks like:

  1. Before you go to bed, put a glass of water and a Caffeine pill (100 mg) next to your bed and set the alarm 10 minutes before you would normally wake up
  2. When your phone rings, take the caffeine pill with the water, press snooze then go back to sleep if you can
  3. When you wake up after 10 minutes, rinse the casein protein powder in your shaker with 4-5 dl of water and 1-2 grams of Leucine. If you have a treadmill at home, set it to 4% incline and start your LISS. If you don’t have a treadmill in your home, then go to the streets with your shaker and start jogging/walking. Or you can use other equipment too, like a stationary bicycle, just remember to keep the conversation pace during the session
  4. Keep your pulse at 115-120 Beats Per Minute (BPM)
  5. Drink your shake in three thirds
  6. Have a nice breakfast when you’re done
  7. You can do a weightlifting session later in the afternoon or in the evening, you will have the energy for it if your nutrition is right

As you can see, the Lowery method is still a LISS with some tweaks here and there. Not surprisingly, the method has the same weakness as LISS: it is time-consuming, you have to do at least 45 minutes at least 3 times a week.

In my opinion, there is no "best" method when it comes to cardio, you have to decide which you'd like to do. If you are running low on time, you want to see fast results, and you don't shy away from the effort, do HIIT. If you have 1 hour a day for LISS, pick that because it will spae more muscle mass. If you are an athlete, then you should do cardio, because there is a good chance that LISS will be ineffective for you.

One last thing: weight loss and fat loss depends mostly on your diet. If you eat more calories than you burn throughout the day, even 1 hour of cardio won't hurt.

1: The Ultimate Cardio Solution: Disclosed by Chris Shug

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