Stan Efferding explains why he prefers athletes do two workouts per day and skip cardio

Welcome back to The Mike O’Hearn Show, where we dive deep into the world of fitness, performance, and achieving peak athletic prowess. In this episode, host Mike O’Hearn sits down with renowned strength coach and bodybuilding legend, Stan Efferding, to explore the nuances of training for the top 1% of athletic excellence.

Stan Efferding makes an exciting return to the podcast to help spread more of his advanced knowledge on all things fitness and strength training. With a decorated career spanning bodybuilding, powerlifting, and coaching, Efferding brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the table. As a former professional bodybuilder and the first man to ever squat and deadlift over 800 pounds in the same powerlifting meet, Efferding’s insights into training and performance are invaluable.

For this conversation, Stan Efferding focuses on the differences in how the average person should train vs the top 1% of athletes – and why there is a difference between the tactics of each. Let’s dive in!


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At What Point Does Cardio Really Burn Muscle?

One of the key insights Efferding shares with Mike O’Hearn revolves around the concept of the “interference effect” in training, particularly relevant for athletes striving for the pinnacle of performance. By interference effect – Efferding is referring to how cardio can disrupt muscle gains and vice versa. Efferding advocates for prioritizing weight training over cardio, especially for elite athletes, to mitigate the interference effect.

For the average population, the interference effect may not pose a significant concern. So those who are not actively competing in sports should not worry about cardio cutting into their muscle mass. However, as athletes ascend to the top 1% of athleticism, the impact becomes more pronounced. Efferding explains that excessive cardio can erode muscle gains, a critical consideration for individuals pushing the boundaries of performance in their respective sports.

Efferding highlights the dual nature of the interference effect, emphasizing that it applies to various athletic disciplines. While marathon runners aim to optimize endurance without compromising speed by avoiding excessive muscle mass, bodybuilders must balance fat burning with muscle retention to preserve their physique.

How Cardio Can Be A “Zero Sum Game” For Many

In discussing the role of cardio in fat burning, Efferding introduces the concept of a “zero-sum game.” While cardio can contribute to calorie expenditure, its side effects, such as increased hunger and fatigue, may offset the benefits. Efferding underscores the primacy of diet in weight management, positioning it as the cornerstone of effective fat loss.

Again, this is part of the skill and challenge that makes being a professional athlete so compelling. An athlete knows that they need to overcome, with willpower, the phycological desires that come from high level performance. Bodybuilders need to have their diet, weightlifting, and entire lifestyle on point – no exceptions. Or they won’t end up being winners in the sport.

The Alternative Of Doing Two Workouts Per Day Instead Of Cardio

Drawing from his experience training elite athletes, Efferding offers insights into optimizing training protocols. He recounts working with a female competitor that placed third at the Olympia – who incorporated minimal cardio into her regimen, focusing instead on multiple weightlifting sessions per day.

By strategically splitting workouts and prioritizing intensity over volume, Efferding aims to preserve lean mass during calorie deficit phases, crucial for maintaining peak performance levels.

A weightlifting workout does ultimately expend energy – which gets your heart beating faster and accomplishes a form of cardiovascular effect. However, the specific stimulus is lean mass retention (or hypertrophy if possible during late stage contest prep while calorie intake is low).

Stan Efferding has spoken previously on how an individual’s strength is a direct indicator of their longevity. Strength helps us stay more capable into older age by strengthening our connective tissue and joints. It also allows us to feel younger and have a better quality of life in our twilight years.

Wrap Up

As the conversation concludes, it’s evident that unlocking athletic excellence requires a nuanced approach to training. Stan Efferding’s expertise sheds light on the intricate balance between weightlifting, cardio, and diet in achieving optimal performance. By understanding and mitigating the interference effect, athletes can enhance their training efficacy and propel themselves towards their goals. Tune in to The Mike O’Hearn Show for more invaluable insights into the world of fitness and performance.

You can watch the latest episode of The Mike O’Hearn Show above. Don’t forget to check back every week for new episodes on the Generation Iron Fitness Network or wherever podcasts are downloaded!

Derek Dufour
Derek Dufour has been managing all digital operations on the Generation Iron Network for over six years. He currently manages a team of editors, writers, and designers to provide up-to-date content across the GI Network.