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"Doing more exercise with less intensity,"
Arthur Jones believes, "has all but
destroyed the actual great value
of weight training. Something
must be done . . . and quickly."
The New Bodybuilding for
Old-School Results supplies
MUCH of that "something."


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Is Cardio Detrimental?


Illinois, USA

The HIT devotees all say that cardio is not necessary. However, I'd like to do some cardio. My wife has recently started running, and as an incentive to keep at it she has decided to train for a 5k. I'm thinking about doing it with her to give her a bit more motivation.

For me to do it, I'm going to have to run about 3 days a week. Is this going to be detrimental to my HIT program?
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Illinois, USA

First of all cardio is not necessary, yet it is necessary. Most people can be relatively lean with just HIT training and a good diet. But when it comes time for getting really lean most people need extra help from cardio. Some people can get ripped without cardio. Drew posted a picture from when he dieted for his contest, he didn't do any cardio and he was damn ripped.

That doesn't work for everyone and I'm one of those people. I just can't get rid of that extra bit of fat without doing some cardio.

So you don't need to do cardio under "normal" conditions but if running is an activity that you and you're wife enjoy then go ahead and do it. Just remember though, running does really beat up your body, and yes, that much running probably will affect your workouts.
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I am not sure if it is detrimental as far as muscle growth.

I do know that running on asphalt/concrete is detrimental to your body. I think even the best running shoe can only absorb so much shock. Run on a tread mill and watch how much the board bends. Just think of all that force going into your body.

From what I understand each strike of the heal sends 3x your body weight worth of force almost instantly into your body. For me @ 170x3=510 lbs of force each foot strike. That comes out to thousands of lbs of force for every 1 mile. I read that it is good to go to short strides moving your legs faster.

I run on a treadmill.
I run 2-3 times per week, only 1.5 mls each time.

PS: I am not an expert on running but I know a few long distance runners including my dad and they have knee and bone problems.
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New York, USA

Don't worry about it. Running together is a good thing. Lectures on the proper way to exercise are generally not well received, especially when someone is full of enthusiasm about a new goal.

I would HIT train on the same days as running and reduce the HIT by 1 or 2 exercises per session. Use the other 4 days of the week to recover.

Since you are supporting her running efforts maybe she can join you in your HIT training.

Good luck in the upcoming 5K.

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tnsewalkin wrote:
The HIT devotees all say that cardio is not necessary. However, I'd like to do some cardio. My wife has recently started running, and as an incentive to keep at it she has decided to train for a 5k. I'm thinking about doing it with her to give her a bit more motivation.

For me to do it, I'm going to have to run about 3 days a week. Is this going to be detrimental to my HIT program?

For some sports, aerobic training is needed but for pure bodybuilding, running takes some of the body's recuperative powers and wastes a lot of energy.If you lift hard and run long you can easily overtrain without realizing it. To quote my dear old Dad,"I've never seen a long distance runner that I wanted to look like."

Check out the arms on any of the Kenyan marathoners...


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Quebec, CAN

tnsewalkin wrote:
The HIT devotees all say that cardio is not necessary. However, I'd like to do some cardio. My wife has recently started running, and as an incentive to keep at it she has decided to train for a 5k. I'm thinking about doing it with her to give her a bit more motivation.

For me to do it, I'm going to have to run about 3 days a week. Is this going to be detrimental to my HIT program?

One thing's for sure cardio by itself causes more harm than good:

Here's a fun fact:

Effects of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces training programme on body composition and reproductive hormones in male army recruits.Sewani-Rusike CR, Mudambo KS, Tendaupenyu G, Dzuda C, Tafirenyika A, Zenda E.
Department of Physiology, Zimbabwe Defence Forces HQ, Harare. csewani@hotmail.com

OBJECTIVES: To investigate the effects of a four month endurance training programme on body composition and reproductive hormone levels. DESIGN: PRE and POST training comparative study. SETTING: Zimbabwe Military Academy, Gweru, Zimbabwe. SUBJECTS: 77 male recruit volunteers participating in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces cadet training programme.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Percent body fat, fat free mass, body mass index, total serum testosterone, luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) compared using the paired t-test.

RESULTS: There was a significant decrease in all parameters measured after four months of endurance training. Decreases in body composition parameters were 54% in percent body fat, 6% in fat free mass, and 13% in body mass index. There was a dramatic 58% drop in testosterone, 60% drop in LH and 15% drop in FSH after four months of endurance training.

CONCLUSIONS: The Zimbabwe Defence Forces cadet training programme, an endurance training programme induces a state of negative energy balance in trainees. This results in a decrease in % body fat and body mass index due to utilisation of fat stores as a source of energy and a decrease in fat free mass due to gluconeogenic utilisation of muscle protein as energy source for muscle activity.

There is impaired hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis function as evidenced by the state of hypogonadal-hypogonadism (low testosterone, LH and FSH). This may be attributed to:

1. gonadotrophin releasing hormone pattern generator malfunction due to the stress of intense physical activity and

2. withdrawal of energy expenditure from reproductive machinery as a way of conserving energy for more vital processes in the prevailing state of energy starvation.

PMID: 14674205 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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California, USA

The above study is true and correct, but it neglects to include the "intensity" of the cardio training.

LSD (long slow distance) training is the most detrimental, in that its metabolic, neurological, and hormonal demands and pathways, are against Hypertrophy and Strength.

The body, adapts to lighter limbs that move easier, and require less oxygen and nutrients, and this is the adaption.

However, sprinting, and stair climbing, and high intensity cardio can be just the opposite.

I recall seeing studies that stated that "all out" sprinting caused the greatest HGH release of any activity.

So if you must have cardio try fartleks or some type of stadium stair running (sprint up/walk down)
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Quebec, CAN


I just thought it was funny that the study was conducted according to "Zimbabwean Defence Forces" protocols :-)
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Florida, USA

I would say to do the competition....be moderate in your running especially at first-if you notice shin-splints or knee pain cut back

Just like the others have said, just make a little cut-back in your volume and/or frequency of strength training....keeping it for instance at 2x per week.....

Dont worry about it being detrimental-get out there... compete and LIVE!

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Gluteus Maximus

Cardio is absolutely essential to any complete fitness program, imo. The problem with sprinting and high intensity cardio that pushes the "max " is the risk factor of blowing up something. A risk that gets greater with increasing age.

Too many of "us" are laboring under nutritional misapprehensions, and no form or amount of exercise will indemnify you against the insidious damage of a crappy diet. Too much protein, too much fat takes its toll over the years.

I don't recommend pushing the "max" on cardio just to save a stitch in time (at any age). The risk isn't worth it. I bring my heart rate up to a "moderate" level and let it ride for awhile.

(PS The PROVEN *vascular* benefits of 30 minutes of mild-moderate cardio have never been proven to tranfer to sprinting//fartlek etc)
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Cardio is not necessary when you're doing 8-12 exercises 2-3x's/week. But it is once you drop down to working out only once a week and/or cut down on the total number of sets.

My weight workouts are like 5 minutes long (4 total sets) every 4-5 days. And that's no longer enough to keep me in good cardio condition. It's not enough to keep anybody in good cardio condition, IMO.

So if you're doing HIT 2-3x's/week, no you don't need cardio. Otherwise, yes, I think you do. And no, I don't think it's detrimental as long as you don't overdo it.
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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

Two of the best articles on the subject:



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After reading "The Exercise Myth" by Dr Henry Solomon, I know that I will never do formal aerobics of any kind ever again. Not because it is dangerous or harmful, but because it does nothing to prevent cardiovascular disease. Fitness and health are not the same thing.

Not drinking, not smoking and eating healthily are the best things you can do to avoid heart disease. That and having the genetics that won't result in heart problems like they did the Mentzers.

Looking at all the folks I know, all the ailments they suffer from are things like cancer (of various sorts), diabetes, arthritis and other joint problems, shingles, bladder problems, poor eyesight, or just plain old age (loss of muscle, strength and functional ability).

I also know many other folks who are all over the age of 40, and are perfectly fit and healthy, and they don't do any formal exercise at all.

The American Heart Association has organized the 10 heart disease risk factors into three categories:

Major Risk Factors That Can't Be Changed
* heredity
* male sex
* increasing age

Major Risk Factors That Can Be Changed
* cigarette smoking
* high blood pressure
* high blood cholesterol
* inactivity

Contributing Factors
* diabetes
* obesity
* stress

Out of the factors that can be changed, smoking can be dealt with by giving up smoking.

Blood pressure and cholesterol can be dealt with by sorting out your diet. Aerobics may also help, but there are also hereditary factors effecting them as well, so aerobics would be last thing I worried about.

Obesity can be dealt with by losing weight - aerobics is not a necessary part of a weight loss program as Dr Darden's work has illustrated.

Aerobics may help with stress reduction, but there are any other factors effecting stress levels, not just whether you do aerobics.

Aerobics clearly would help to combat inactivity, but the level of inactivity that raises the risk of heart disease is extreme. If most people walked a little, did some gardening and did some housework they'd be fine.

I cycle to and from the the shops 2 or 3 times a week. It takes me about 8 - 10 minutes each way so that would be a total of somewhere between roughly 32 and 60 minutes of cycling a week. I do this at a very moderate intensity though.

I don't really get out of breathe anymore as my muscles have become more efficient and have become used to cycling. I only feel it when going up a hill. Down hill or on the flat, I can go really quickly without any effort.

The cycling probably helps me, but I don't look upon it as exercise. To me,it's nothing more than transport into and out of town. Walking takes far too long and trying to find somewhere to park the car is a nightmare.

The bottom line is, I simply cannot be bothered to do formal aerobics of any kind as I don't like it. I find it a chore. I find it boring.

I guess that makes me biased against aerobics, but I'm willing to acknowledge that.
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I used to do conventional cardio, then dropped it down to 3 - 4 days a week of just steady walking at a brisk pace, then eventually dropped it altogether. I train 3 days a week, no cardio, and I don't really rush between exercises (between bodyparts)..(although lately I've been dancing a lot) and I get just as cut as when I was doing it.

I am strict with my diet however, I think that's the key. Also none of my risk factors (BP, total cholesterol, HDL/LDL ratio) has changed so I can only assume that cardio really isn't necessary if you're strength training hard and regularly. I think if you do it too intensely or too often, it will take away from your strength training results.
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