By Adam Signoretta
To most, the words diet and cardio shouldn’t be in the same sentence because most feel that these two may decrease your strength gains. They can if you don’t supplement correctly. Will diet and cardio help you with your strength? Maybe, maybe not. But they will keep you in the game longer because you won’t be a fat ass and die of a heart attack. I don’t know about you, but I don’t just like to look strong. I want to be strong. I feel a man should be able to lift heavy ****, bust out 10 or more pull-ups, and get up at any given time and bang out two or three miles. This is where that diet and cardio regimen come in. The following program can be for weight loss or bulking, depending on how you put it together.
I’ve done many diets over the years, and this one is by far the best food wise. It’s also affordable. This diet consists of high carb days, normal carb days, and for those who want to bulk, a super high day. My carbs never drop lower than 100 grams a day. I’ve done very high protein, low to no carb, and high fat diets. All work pretty well as far as getting lean, but they hurt your strength, endurance, and wallet. I was spending $140 a week for chicken alone. To get your super high carb day, multiply by three. To get your high carb day, multiply by two, and to get your low carb day, multiply by one.
Here’s how you’re going to keep your muscle, strength, and endurance. You’re going to eat more carbs before and after your workout. Loading before your workout will give you more energy for your workout, and loading after will restore your glycogen levels. Restoring these levels will boost energy and muscle growth. To find out how many macronutrients you will have with each meal, divide the total amount by the number of meals you will have except for carbs. To find out
how many carbs for each meal, divide by the number of meals plus add an additional one. Then take the extra meal and multiply it by one and a half. That result will be your pre- and post-workout meal.
Here’s an example:
Amount of meals = 6
Protein = 270 g / 6 = 45 g
Carbs = 200 g / 7 = 28 g
Fat = 50 g / 6 = 8 g
Pre- and post-workout meal = 28 g X 1.5 = 42 g each
High carb day
Amount of meals = 6
Protein = 240 g / 6 = 40 g
Carbs = 300 g / 7 = 43 g
Fat = 40 g / 6 = 6.5 g
Pre- and post-workout meal = 43 g X 1.5 = 64 g each
Super high carb day
Amount of meals = 6
Protein = 200 g / 6 = 34 g
Carbs = 600 g / 8 = 75 g
Fat = none added
Pre- and post-workout meal = 75 g X 1.5 = 112 g
If you aren’t doing a workout, you can’t load carbs. So equally distribute them through the day. Don’t count veggies as carbs, and don’t count the protein from carb sources.
To get leaner now that you have your normal and high day breakdowns done, you have to determine how many high days you’ll have and what days of the week they will fall on. If you want to get lean fast, do 3–4 days. If you have a tough time, do 1–2 high days. You can always change the days as your diet goes on. I start at two days and stay at two days a week. My days are Friday and Tuesday. You should try to space them out at least one or two days apart if possible.
To bulk up, I recommend 1–2 super high days, preferably on your heavy training days, 1–2 high days on your light days, and 2–3 low days on your days off.
This is how you’ll be able to do cardio and maintain your strength. You want to break your cardio into three days—a low day, a moderate day, and a high intensity day. On low days, your heart rate should be in your fat burning zone or somewhere around 120–140 beats per minute (bpm) for 20–60 minutes. On your high day, perform interval training. Do intervals of one minute in zone three (150 bpm and up) and then one minute of low intensity for about 30–35 minutes. Your moderate days are the same as the high days, but they’re shorter in duration. Do 10–15 minutes of high intensity followed by 10 minutes of low intensity. Duration and frequency of each day are determined by your goals (whether you want to bulk up or lean out) and also by how many super high, high, and norm carb days you’re doing.
If you’re leaning out, you can do low intensity on any day, but your high intensity days are best to do the day after your high carb day. The day after your high carb day, your body should be filled with glycogen, which will give you more fuel to burn without burning muscle. This will ensure that you burn fat. I wouldn’t do any weight training on your high intensity days. Load your carbs before and after your high intensity cardio. Moderate intensity cardio would be good to do at the end of your light days.
Here’s an example of a good split for someone leaning out:
Sunday: High carb – heavy lower – off cardio
Monday: Normal carb – off weights – moderate cardio (15 minutes)
Tuesday: Normal carb – off weights –low intensity cardio (30 minutes)
Wednesday: High carb – heavy upper – low intensity cardio (20 minutes after weights)
Thursday: Normal carb – light lower- high intensity cardio (30 minutes)
Friday: Normal carb – off – off
Saturday: Normal carb – light upper – low intensity cardio (30 minutes)
When bulking, your split may look like this:
Sunday: Super high carb – heavy lower – off cardio
Monday: High carb – off weights – high intensity cardio (30 minutes)
Tuesday: Normal carb – off weights – off cardio
Wednesday: Super high carb – heavy upper – off cardio
Thursday: High carb –light lower – moderate intensity cardio (15 minutes after weights)
Friday: Normal carb – off weights – low intensity cardio (20 minutes)
Saturday: Normal carb – light upper – off cardio
Here are some ideas for high and moderate cardio:
· My weighted stair routine from my article “Cardio for the Strong”
· Kettlebell interval swings or snatches (Do eight reps each arm for 15 seconds on and 15 seconds off for 30 minutes and a total of 480–500 snatches. Or do swings (high intensity) for moderate intensity using a 53-lb kettlebell for 5–6 reps for 15 minutes.)
· Sled drags
· Up hill sprints
· Jump rope (one-minute rounds)
On low intensity days, use any form of cardio you want as long as your heart rate stays at 130–140 or under.
Diet and cardio while powerlifting is going to be like your weight lifting program. It’s trial and error. If something isn’t working, make the appropriate changes and move on. Don’t completely dismiss something because it isn’t getting you the exact results you want. I’ve hit some of my best lifts when I wasn’t doing cardio and eating Mickey D’s, but I felt like crap. But I’m also a bodybuilder, and by following a split similar to this, I’ve hit the same numbers 20 lbs lighter. Just for the record, this isn’t my routine. This is just a template that I feel will increase the average lifter’s performance.