Cutting season is upon us, as most people are trying to shed weight for spring break, summer or another vacation. One of the big questions is this - Do I HAVE to do cardio in order to cut weight? The truth is, there are a select few people who enjoy cardio. I'm going to outline below how to cut with or without cardio, often having similar results.
1. Clean up the diet. As outlined in previous posts, this is a MUST. Truthfully, this is a must no matter what your fitness goals, at least until you get into a consistent routine and know how many calories you are burning and consuming. In order to lose weight, you have to be in a caloric deficit (i.e. burning more calories than you are consuming). Look up a IIFYM calculator to assess your daily goals. I recommend aiming to lose ~1 pound per week. 2 pounds is doable, but much harder both mentally and physically. Although it's tempting, don't try to lose more than that per week - you do permanent damage to your metabolism if you're making major changes to your composition so quickly.
2. Workout out at least 4 times per week. Lengthen the workouts and try to up the intensity in each one. Even if you are simply implementing an extra arm day or core day, this extra gym time will pay huge dividends by burning more calories and ultimately adding strength if you're doing it right.
3. Minimize rest time in between sets to 60 seconds or less. Even on your big lifts, push that heart rate by going from set to set quickly. I recommend ~ 45 seconds for the ultimate heart rate "hacking". You will likely see noticeable fatigue the first few times you do this but it WILL pay off in the end.
4. STICK WITH IT. The reason most people are unsuccessful in cutting weight with is that they lose motivation after not seeing results. Be realistic -- mirror results will show up likely after 4-5 weeks of consistent workouts, dieting and lifestyle change. This is a lifestyle change and if you want to see results, you will have to make significant changes and sacrifices in your life. If you stick with a proven plan listed in the steps above, you will have life-changing results in 4-6 weeks.
For cardio lovers: It is smart and beneficial to implement cardio whenever you hit a wall (plateau). This is an industry trick - cut as much weight as you can without cardio and then implement it whenever you need a boost in your diet. This can significantly help the weight fall off, especially after a long and successful diet that starts to stall. I recommend no more than 30 minutes per day and prefer stairmaster, HIIT on a bike or a slow jog.