Do you need to add cardio in a fat loss phase?

cardio for weight loss?

So, you’re about to start training and all your friends are telling you that you should do cardio to lose weight. But, you’ve also read that cardio is going to kill your strength gains… What do you do?

I decided to write this blog to help you and give you direction for building your dream body.

Does cardio burn more fat?

Well, the long and short of it is yes. If you diet well and perform cardio, you will lose more weight and burn more fat over dieting alone. The problem however is that without a strength building routine on the side, you’re likely going to lose just as much weight in muscle mass.

If you’re training to be a marathon runner and looks/strength aren’t that important to you, this doesn’t pose much of an issue. But, if you want to be strong, have defined muscles and look sexy AF then you’re going to want to take a different approach.

How to get a sexy body

Let’s face it, you’re here because you want to have that sexy body on the beach this summer, while all your friends are repping their beer gut. There is a way to do this, without having to lose all of your muscle, getting saggy skin and ultimately gaining the skinny-fat look.

Lose weight with diet and strength training

Personal Training Client lifting heavy

Sure, 1 hour of cardio (300-600kcal) is going to burn more calories than 1 hour of strength training (180kcal). But, you’ve got to remember that your ultimate goal is to look great! So, how can we do this with just strength training and diet?

Fat loss diet

First of all, we need to look at your diet. To do that, we need to look at your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) – there are a few way’s to do this but you can get a rough idea, by finding your body weight in pounds (lbs) and multiplying it by 12.

Example: 200lbs x 12 = 2,400kcal TDEE

Then, you want to find 10% – 20% of that figure and remove it for you daily calorie goal (depending on how fast you want to lose weight).


10% of 2,400kcal = 240kcal

2,400 – 240 = 2,160kcal

Daily Goal = 2,160kcal

You find a more precise figure here.

It’s important to remember that as you lose weight, you will have to recalculate this goal as your body will need less energy as you will have fewer fat cells to take care of. You don’t want to reduce your calories by any more than 20% of TDEE because you run the risk of burning muscle tissue too!

Strength Training

You want to make the very most out of your training and get as much out of your natural growth hormones as possible. That means, you’re going to want to focus on compound lifts that recruit multiple muscle groups. A good place to start would be with the basic 6 compound lifts:

  • Deadlift
  • Squat
  • Bench Press
  • Shoulder Press
  • Row
  • Pull-up


Remember to plan your exercises too. That means, plan your workout structure, sets and reps, and rest periods too. Here’s an infographic that should help.

How many reps for strength training

When to add cardio (Final Step)

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that adding cardio to your regime is not going to damage your strength gains. However, I would only add it as a last resort, when your feeling like you’re starting to hit a brick wall and your not losing weight as fast as you would like to (after re-calculating your daily calorie goal).

Start off small, and add in increments. Start off with 10 minutes cardio each day,  when that stops working, add another 10 minutes, over and over until you reach your goal.

Adding cardio into your fat loss phase


To lose fat, build muscle and get that sexy body – you want to sort your diet out, lift heavy things (focusing on compound movements) and only add cardio when you hit a brick wall and have stopped losing weight.

Hopefully you found this blog useful and you can start losing weight and moving towards your dream body!

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