Ah, the golden goose.. the key that many people tell you will help to burn fat and help you to get in great shape. Some of you dread the word while others embrace it. This my friends is CARDIO- Cardiovascular training that increases heart and lung function, allows you to work harder under fatigue and YES, will get you in great shape IF you know what you are doing and train effectively in doing so. There are a few things you need to know about cardio and also a few things that you should disregard as well that have had you running in circles (pun) for a really long time. Use these principles to unlock the key to use cardio as a massive tool in your tool chest to get in crazy shape FAST!
Train the Proper System for the Body You Desire
- As a hamster on a wheel, today in most gyms you see countless amounts of people trudging away on the treadmill running mile after mile to nowhere. Why is that you ask? Well the fact of the matter is that unless you are SPECIFICALLY training for a marathon, iron man, or you are a long distance athlete, training the oxidative system exclusively will be a ticket to losing serious muscle mass. When training your body in an aerobic state for long periods of time over long distances, your body will go for its most precious energy source- MUSCLE. (Yes, during the cutting phase you will forms of cardio that will mimic long distance such as long periods on the step mill or inline walk, but this will only be for a short period of time as far as yearly training is concerned.)
- Extreme long distance running decreases type 2 fast twitch muscle fiber (which makes you faster and stronger) burns more muscle fiber( to make you a more efficient long distance runner since that’s what you are doing) and all around sucks if it isn’t your thing. A better option would be to train the energy system you would most want to look like. You ever wonder why sprinters look the way they do? It is because they train an energy system that will tax the cardiovascular system quickly and actually burn more fat in the process be cause the more energy expended, the more calories you burn. High intensity training also causes the Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption Effect. Simply put, you will continue to burn calories post training when using higher intensity forms of cardio. With that being said, sprinting, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and Metabolic Conditioning (SAFE bodyweight WODS From Crossfit) are better options and are heard towards obtaining a ripped lean physique.
Give Time Between Your Cardio and Weights
- What is the best time to do cardio? What about fasted cardio first thing in the morning? What about right before you head to bed? Well guys let me answer these questions as SIMPLY AS I CAN: IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT TIME YOU DO CARDIO. To lose fat it is as simple as more energy expended than consumed; burn more than you eat. PERIOD. Unless you are an athlete that is on time constraints to get all training fit into a day, there is no right specific time to do cardio. It will be based solely on your preference and schedule. WHAT is important however is the relationship between your cardio and weight training. Optimally, there should be at least a 90 minute window between cardio and training but I know most people don’t have that type of time. That being the case, always perform your cardio on either a non lifting day or AFTER weight training. Training before weights is counterproductive in the fact that it pre-exhausts you prior to training and pre deplete glycogen stores that would normally be used during weight training. This storage helps in muscle degradation which will occur if you continually train in a pre exhausted state. If your goal is to look GOOD, take this advice.
Cardio is Like Salt- Know When to Use It
- You ever see someone who prides themselves on how much cardio they do? How they run, swim, spin, insanity and everything else under the sun there is to do regarding cardio and when you see them they still look unimpressive? Well what is happening is this person body has begun a state of homeostasis meaning that the body has now adapted itself and found a tolerance level for activity. Your body is WAY smarter than you are so there is no need to trick it. You just have to be cognizant of the stimulus that you provide the body for the aesthetic effect that you want. Your body doesn’t care whether you look good, it just wants to stay alive so use cardio as your advantage. The foundation of your training program should be heavy compound lifting with high intensity cardio sessions to maintain heathy heart function and aid in burning fat. HOWEVER, the first place you should check to when trying to lean out is your kitchen. You will not be able to outrun bad diet so don’t even think about that one. When you have a proper diet and adjust to lean out cardio can be a great weapon when you start to increase it during this process to burn more calories during the day. But if you ALWAYS do crazy cardio every day, then what new adaptation can you put on your body?
Think about it! Cardio done correctly can be a great tool to build your best self but as in all things, how you do it will make all the difference
Minor Bowens, CSCS
Owner, The Swxller Company