Does Weight Training Count As Cardio?

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As I write this post, I am grimacing.

My chest hasn't been this sore since back when I was doing more lifting (that's me above, a few days before I did my first triathlon and decided I had too much muscle to comfortably do cardio-style racing).

Anyways, it's been six days since I've stepped foot in a gym.

So what did I do to get such a kick-butt workout?

It involved a style of weight training that was actually very cardiovascular.

And you're about to learn what that style of weight training was, and the answer to the question: Does Weight Training Count As Cardio?

Click here for the full written transcript of this audio interview.

In today's audio interview, I have a conversation with Dr. Doug McGuff, author of the book “Body By Science“.

Body by Science

Doug has found a way to make weight training count as cardio, and in this talk, you'll learn:

-Why an emergency medical physician wrote a book about exercise.

-What the “Amplification Cascade” is, and how it relates to cardiovascular exercise and weights. 

-How you can use the concept of “Global Metabolic Conditioning” to make yourself fitter, faster.

-How it is that “anaerobic” strength training protocols can induce an “aerobic” benefit.

-What a “Body By Science” inspired strength training protocol actually look like?

-And much more!

If you have questions, comments or feedback about how weight training counts as cardio, then leave them below!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

27 thoughts on “Does Weight Training Count As Cardio?

  1. Judy says:

    I know this post is older, but this stuff is new to me! I was just curious – i’ve been hitting the gym lately with the goal of building up my booty. Do you think I could use this concept on glute exercises to achieve muscle growth in that area more efficiently? Love the podcast by the way!

  2. Terry says:

    Hey Ben…
    Man, I really appreciate the podcast, and this one especially. After hearing the interview with Dr. Doug McGuff, I went and picked up "Body by Science" from the library. I'm gonna try out this protocol once I'm done with softball in a couple weeks. I mostly workout at home w/ some Bowflex 522 dumbbells (up to 50lbs), and wanted to know would this protocol work with dumbbells, and where should I start in terms of how much load to train with?

    1. You could totally do it with DB's but you'd have to approximate each exercise. Like Machine Chest Press=Dumbbell Chest Press, Machine Leg Press=Dumbbell Squat,etc.

      1. Terry says:

        Thanks, Ben! I'll check for other exercises I can use with BBS in addition to what you've mentioned! Greatly appreciate the help!

  3. Jamie says:

    Hey Ben and Dr. Doug if you're about…

    I've a similar question to Stacia really. I enjoy lifting, I do so about 3/4 times a week. I find this sort of routine helps me keep on track with my diet and general lifestyle. I know when I drop my sessions, my discipline in other areas dips too.

    That having been said, I want to maximise my time spent lifting.

    If it takes life 6/7 days to fully recover from a BBS workout, what other forms of training could I incorporate in order to make sure I don't drop off in the other areas d'you think? Preferably lifting based things, but I'd consider other forms of training too.

    Any input/thoughts would be awesome thanks…


    1. Non weight bearing, shorter aerobic sessions would be a good place to start Jamie. What is referred to as "LISS" – Light Intensity Steady State exercise. Multiple benefits of it, some outlined here – one benefit to "light" vs "moderate-heavy" exercise – you tend to do much better with not doing "compensatory" eating:

      Anyways, you could throw in 1 yoga session, a couple bike rides or walks, maybe an aqua jogging session, and some golf, tennis or basketball. That's where I'd start!

      1. Jamie says:

        Thanks for that Ben. I'll get my head into the book and then see how I can piece this all together then.

        Thanks again.

  4. eddy casasola says:

    Hello Ben, thanks for the podcast. Its great. I just listen to the podcast a couple of days ago and got the book today. Flipping through the pages and watching some of the videos, I am still unsure about how much weight to start with. Should I start light, comfortable or heavy and push. Thanks a lot and wish you well on your racing season.

    1. I'd go heavy enough to go 10s up, 10s down and completely exhaust you by 4-8 reps.

  5. Great interview Ben,

    I've seen guys who do this type of thing shed fat and get ripped without ever stepping on the treadmill. Are you going to go back to the way you were in the old pic? Or are you still competing in triathlons?

    1. Aaron…I may end up competing in Crossfit Games at some point in next 5-10 years. But first a few more triathlon goals to knock off…

  6. Osa says:

    I tried this workout at my gym yesterday. I used the big 5 workout posted on and Youtube as an example for my first workout. I also did a post 15 minute interval on the eliptical although I felt like I had already had a cardio workout after the weight training workout. People at the gym were looking at me weird like I was crazy, but after my workout I was exhausted and felt like I had gotten a more efficient workout in less time. I am now sore, but I will definitely do this workout again after I have recovered and see what type of results I get in a month or when I start doing it consistently.

    1. nice job, Osa. I feel your pain. ;)

  7. Barbara says:

    Dear Ben,

    I just want to tell you how grateful I am to you for all the help and direction you have provided over the past few months since I found your site The podcasts, I bought some of your books and the interview with Peter Attia and the suppliment recommendations have all paid off for me. I just completed my 9th Tour De Cure up in New England, 7 days, 4 states, 30, 000 feet of climbing! I am 56 and this was by far my best year. I went low carb, smaller protein and high fat. I used ucan only pre-on the bike and post along with Pocket Fuel which you suggested. I felt like a rocket ship on some days and have to say I owe a big thank you to you for that …..

    So if you are having a bad day…know that you made mine…fantastic!! Oh, I also have been reading Psycho-Cybernetics as you mentioned in a podcast and found that to be really helpful as well.


    1. That's awesome to hear Barbara! Nice job in the Tour. Sounds like you rocked it.

      BTW…I don't believe in "bad days". ;) Just really good ones that can sometimes make others seem inferior in comparison.

  8. Joel says:

    This type of training definitely has merit. It has existed for many years in the bodybuilding community.
    I remember reading Ellington Darden's book 'Big: Bulkbuilding Instructional Guide', 20 years ago.

  9. Doug McGuff, MD says:


    A BBS workout represents a level of intensity that is way higher than conventional exercise. This is why a longer recovery interval is required. As you get stronger, the recovery interval may need to be even longer than 6 or 7 days, especially if you are doing other forms of recreational exercise. The appropriate rest interval is identified when you are showing improvement at each workout. This does not mean that you must avoid all other activity. In fact, as one becomes conditioned by a BBS program, we find that activity levels tend to increase spontaneously.

    Go ahead and begin BBS at an every 5-7 day interval and continue the activities you enjoy. As you go along it will become evident if you need to adjust the frequency of your workouts. Oh, and thanks for buying the book!

    1. Staicia says:

      No problem, thanks for writing it, and thanks or the informative reply. It’s really made my day to hear back from you and Ben, thanks guys have a great weekend :)

    2. JLMA says:

      Dr McGuff,
      What in a BBS Workout contributes MORE to Global Metabolic Conditioning? Training to muscular failure OR rushing between HIT exercises?
      I mean: can one achieve/maintain Global Metabolic Conditioning if resting too long between “to muscular failure HIT 90-sec exercises”?
      Thank you.

  10. Staicia says:

    Hi Ben, I am completley addicted to you're podcasts. So I was really excited about this podcast because my copy of this book arrived yesterday, and I haven't had a chance to read it yet and this was a really great introduction thank you.
    I'm not a supper fit athlete, I'm a 34 year old woman from England that's lucky enough to have a pretty good body, I've kinda got a the body shape that would make an ideal swimmer I guess. (that used to be my thing I'm my teens)
    I gave up the deadly cigarettes about 21 weeks ago and what I'm trying to do is keep my figure as I get older and of corse where possible improve it along with fitness.
    So what I've been doing is going to my local gym and participating in Les Mills studio classes; Twice a week I'll do, Body Pump & Body Balance and  once a week i'll do Body Combat, a spin class and a Bootcamp class. I do all this because I really enjoy all the classes.
    What I'm trying to get at in a really long winded kinda way, is that you mention above that you did this form of exercise and haven't been back to the gym in 6 days. Does this mean that once you do this, that you can't do anything else for that period of time or is there stuff that you can do in between this kind of exercise protocol and how much rest do you need? Because I really want to try this out, but I don't want to completely stop everything else. 
    I hope this question makes sense? sorry it's so long I'm not that good at summarising lol :)

    1. Hi Staicia,

      One of the main reasons I got sore is that this was my first time being exposed to this kind of exercise, but in reality, you'll be able to do it more often than 6 days. Just like anything, the first few times you do something, you'll be even sorer than usual. I've still been able to swim, etc…just sore!

      1. Staicia says:

        Yeah I hear you, there’s nothing quite like that first time soreness. Although I’ve got a feeling this is going top what I have ever experienced before! Kinda scared and excited all at once. Thanks for the reply and the great podcasts :)

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