Cutting Through the Confusion: How Much Cardio is Necessary During a Cut?

Losing weight and achieving a lean physique is a goal that many strive for, especially during a “cut” phase. While there are various factors that play a role in this process, cardio undoubtedly holds a position of importance. But the question that often arises is: how much cardio should one do during a cut? The answer isn’t as simple as a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires understanding of your body, goals, and most importantly, the science behind cardio during a cut. In this article, we will delve into the topic of how much cardio you should be incorporating during a cut to help you reach your desired results and maintain overall health.

The Purpose of Cardio During a Cut

Cardio, or cardiovascular exercise, is a vital component of any cutting phase in a fitness journey. During a cut, the goal is to decrease body fat and maintain muscle mass. This can be achieved through a combination of diet and exercise, with cardio playing a crucial role in burning excess calories.

The primary purpose of cardio during a cut is to create an energy deficit within the body. By engaging in cardiovascular exercises, you are burning calories and depleting your stored energy reserves. This forces your body to tap into fat stores for fuel, resulting in weight loss.

However, cardio has additional benefits during a cut beyond just creating an energy deficit. It can also improve heart health, increase stamina and endurance, and help maintain muscle mass. Additionally, depending on the type of cardio performed, it can also aid in building muscular endurance and improving overall athletic performance.

The Ideal Types of Cardio for Cutting

Not all forms of cardio are created equal when it comes to aiding in fat loss during a cut. Some types may be more effective than others or better suited for specific goals. Let’s explore some of the ideal types of cardio for cutting:

1. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by brief periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. This type of cardio has been shown to be more effective at burning calories and targeting stubborn fat stores than steady-state cardio.

2. Steady-State Cardio: Steady-state cardio refers to maintaining the same intensity throughout the entire duration of the workout. While not as effective as HIIT for fat loss, it can still be useful for improving cardiovascular health and stamina.

3. Low-Intensity Steady-State (LISS) Cardio: LISS involves performing low-intensity activities like walking or cycling for an extended period without any breaks or intense bursts. This type of cardio is excellent for building endurance and can also aid in recovery during a cut.

4. Circuit Training: Combining strength training exercises with bursts of cardio is an efficient way to incorporate both types of exercise during a cut. By alternating between muscle-building exercises and cardio, you can burn calories while also maintaining muscle mass.

The Ideal Frequency and Duration of Cardio During a Cut

The frequency and duration of cardio you should incorporate into your cut will depend on several factors, including your goals, fitness level, and current diet.

For most individuals, it is generally recommended to perform 3-5 sessions of cardio per week during a cut. However, this frequency can vary depending on personal preferences and workout schedules. Additionally, the duration of each session should ideally be between 20-60 minutes.

When determining the exact frequency and duration that works best for you, it’s essential to consider the potential impact on your recovery. If you are feeling overly fatigued or are struggling to maintain muscle mass, it may be necessary to lower the frequency or duration of your cardio sessions.

How Much Cardio Should Be Done During a Cut

The amount of cardio that needs to be done during a cut is highly individualized and dependent on various factors such as body composition, fitness level, diet, and activity levels outside of exercise.

In general, it’s essential to maintain a calorie deficit while cutting for optimal results. However, incorporating too much cardio or not enough rest days can be counterproductive to this goal. It is crucial to strike a balance between calorie intake and expenditure so that you are still providing your body with enough energy for daily activities while also effectively burning fat through cardiovascular exercise.

A general rule of thumb is that beginners may need less intense workouts while those who have been training consistently may require more intense workouts or additional sessions per week. It’s essential to listen to your body and adjust as needed to support your goals and overall well-being.

The Potential Impact of Too Much Cardio During a Cut

While cardio is an essential component of a cutting phase, doing too much can have a negative impact on your progress and overall health. One potential effect of performing excessive cardio during a cut is overtraining. Overtraining occurs when the body is pushed beyond its limit, resulting in decreased performance, fatigue, mood disturbances, and increased risk of injury.

Additionally, too much cardio can also lead to muscle loss. When in an energy deficit, the body may turn to not only fat stores but also muscle tissue as fuel. By overdoing it on cardio and not providing enough nutrients or rest for proper recovery, you may be sabotaging your muscle-building efforts.

Ultimately, finding the right balance of cardio during a cut is crucial for achieving your goals while also maintaining overall health and wellness.


In summary, incorporating cardio into a cutting phase is essential for creating an energy deficit, burning fat, improving heart health, and maintaining muscle mass. The ideal types of cardio during a cut include HIIT, steady-state cardio, LISS cardio, and circuit training.

Finding the right frequency and duration of cardio

The Importance of Cardio During a Cut

When it comes to cutting, people tend to focus solely on their diet and reducing their calorie intake. While this is definitely an important aspect of cutting, cardio should not be neglected. In fact, incorporating cardio into your cutting routine can greatly enhance your results and bring you closer to achieving your desired physique.

Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, refers to any form of physical activity that increases your heart rate and respiration. This includes activities such as running, cycling, swimming, or using the elliptical machine at the gym. While many may see cardio as a way to simply burn calories and lose weight, it has many other benefits that are especially crucial during a cut.

First and foremost, incorporating cardio into your cutting routine can help you create a calorie deficit in a more efficient manner. As mentioned earlier, diet is crucial when it comes to cutting as you need to consume fewer calories than you burn in order to lose weight. By adding in some cardio sessions throughout the week, you can further increase your calorie burn and reach your desired caloric deficit more quickly.

In addition to burning extra calories, cardio also helps boost your metabolism. During a cut, your body may adapt by slowing down its metabolism in order to conserve energy. This makes it much harder to continue losing weight despite maintaining a caloric deficit. By adding in some cardio sessions, however, you are giving your metabolism a jumpstart and helping it stay revved up even while consuming fewer calories.

Cardio is also beneficial for preserving muscle mass during a cut. When trying to lose weight through diet alone, you may end up losing both fat and muscle mass. This can result in a less toned and defined appearance. By adding in some regular cardio sessions along with proper resistance training, you can minimize muscle loss during a cut and achieve that lean and muscular look.

Moreover, regular cardio exercise has been shown to improve overall cardiovascular health and function. This is especially important during a cut, as your body may experience increased stress from consuming fewer calories and trying to lose weight. Cardio can help relieve some of this stress, leading to better heart health and improved blood flow.

How Much Cardio is Appropriate During a Cut?

Now that we’ve established the importance of cardio during a cut, the question remains – how much cardio should one do during a cut? The answer largely depends on your goals and personal preferences. However, there are some general guidelines that can help you determine an appropriate amount for your cutting routine.

First and foremost, it’s important to listen to your body. If you are new to working out or have any health concerns, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise routine. This is especially crucial during a cut when your body may already be under increased stress.

Assuming you have the green light from a medical professional, it’s generally recommended to do some form of cardio at least three times per week during a cut. Of course, this can vary depending on factors such as your current fitness level, the intensity and duration of each cardio session, and how often you are also resistance training.

When determining the appropriate amount of cardio for your cutting routine, it’s important to also consider how much weight you are looking to lose and at what pace. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose and wish to do so more quickly, then incorporating more frequent or longer cardio sessions may be necessary. On the other hand, if you are simply looking to maintain muscle mass while losing fat slowly over time, then sticking with 3-4 moderate cardio sessions per week may suffice.

Another factor to consider is the type of cardio you choose. HIIT (high-intensity interval training) has been shown to be very effective for burning fat in a shorter period of time, making it a popular option during a cut. However, it’s important to note that this type of cardio can be more taxing on the body and may require more rest and recovery time in between sessions.

Ultimately, the appropriate amount of cardio during a cut will vary from person to person. It’s important to find a balance that works for your body and fits into your lifestyle without causing excessive stress or burnout.

Tips for Incorporating Cardio Into Your Cutting Routine

Now that you have an understanding of how important cardio is during a cut and how much you should be doing, let’s dive into some practical tips for incorporating it into your routine.

Firstly, make sure to schedule your cardio sessions at times that work best for you. Some people prefer early morning before work, while others find it more manageable to do it in the evenings after work or even during lunch breaks. Find what works best for you and stick with it consistently.

It’s also important to mix up your cardio routines to prevent boredom and continue challenging your body. If you enjoy running, try incorporating some interval sprints or hill runs in addition to longer-distance runs. If you prefer low-impact activities, consider trying dance classes or swimming laps.


Q: How much cardio should I do during a cut?
A: The amount of cardio you should do during a cut depends on your individual goals and current level of fitness. Generally, it is recommended to do 150-300 minutes per week for optimal results.

Q: Can I do too much cardio during a cut?
A: Yes, it is possible to overdo cardio during a cut, which can lead to negative side effects such as muscle loss and fatigue. It’s important to find a balance between calorie deficit and exercise intensity.

Q: How often should I do cardio during a cut?
A: This can vary for each person, but a good guideline is to aim for 3-5 days per week. However, listen to your body and adjust accordingly if needed.

Q: Should I focus on high-intensity or low-intensity cardio during a cut?
A: Both high-intensity and low-intensity cardio have their benefits during a cut. High-intensity burns more calories in less time, while low-intensity can improve endurance and aid in muscle recovery. It’s recommended to incorporate both into your routine.

Q: Is it necessary to do solely cardio for weight loss during a cut?
A: No, it’s not necessary to rely solely on cardio for weight loss during a cut. Resistance training is also important as it helps preserve muscle mass and increase metabolism.

Q: What are some signs that I may be doing too much cardio during my cut?
A: Signs of doing too much cardio include extreme fatigue, difficulty recovering from workouts, frequent illness or injury, and sudden weight loss without an adjustment in diet. If you experience these symptoms, it may be beneficial to decrease the amount of cardio you’re doing.

In conclusion, incorporating cardio into a cut can be a beneficial way to lose fat and maintain muscle mass. However, the amount of cardio needed will vary for each individual based on their specific goals, fitness level, and overall health. It is important to focus on maintaining a balanced approach and not overdo it with excessive cardio during a cut.

Some key takeaways from this topic are:

1. Consistency is key: Incorporating a consistent amount of cardio in your routine can help you achieve your fat loss goals during a cut.
2. Consider individual factors: Everyone’s body is different, so it’s important to listen to your body and adjust the amount of cardio accordingly.
3. Resistance training is crucial: While cardio can aid in fat loss, maintaining muscle mass is equally important during a cut. Incorporating resistance training along with cardio can help preserve muscle mass.
4. Pay attention to nutrition: Cardio is just one aspect of weight loss during a cut; proper nutrition plays a pivotal role in achieving results.
5. Bring variety into your routine: Trying out different forms of cardio such as HIIT, steady-state, or outdoor activities can prevent boredom and keep your body challenged.

In summary, finding the right balance for how much cardio to do during a cut is key

Author Profile

Jeff Duncan
Jeff Duncan, the owner and Head Coach of CrossFit Pearl District, is dedicated to fostering a supportive and effective training environment.

With a strong belief in the principles of movement mechanics, consistency, and intensity, Jeff has cultivated a community that thrives on continuous improvement and mutual support.

From 2024, Jeff Duncan has expanded his passion for CrossFit beyond coaching by writing an informative blog dedicated to the CrossFit niche. His blog features a variety of content aimed at providing valuable information and insights to the CrossFit community.

Jeff’s posts cover a wide range of topics including training techniques, nutrition advice, workout routines, and answers to common queries within the niche. This transition to blogging allows Jeff to reach a broader audience, sharing his expertise and helping individuals at all levels of their fitness journey.