I have quite a few people who are a little obsessed with cardio and feel that if they don’t kill themselves performing cardio, they feel like they haven’t worked and they won’t burn any fat.
Cardio is AWESOME for the mind. I find nothing more exhilarating for my mind than going for a nice long run when I’m stressed or angry. It helps clear my mind and helps me calm down mentally. I personally prefer to run out in the street, park etc rather than a treadmill, though that will work too if I can’t run outside.
HOWEVER, when it comes to burning fat and building muscle, Cardio is a VERY ineffective method of training, for a few of reasons:
(Heavy) Weight Training helps build lean muscles. The leaner and larger the muscles the more fat they burn. When you conduct steady state cardio, you lengthen the muscle fibers of your muscles, breaking down muscle tissue and reducing the size. This means that the muscle is then burning less fat.
Steady state cardio increases your Cortisol level to crazy levels. Cortisol is your stress hormone. This raises during all exercise. The difference is, that after weight or HIIT training your Cortisol calms down very quickly, with steady state cardio it takes hours to calm down. Why is this important to know? Because whilst Cortisol is high in your system, you don’t burn fat.
Your body also becomes very comfortable with steady state cardio, and doesn’t feel challenged, so you tend to plateau much faster.
Steady cardio is great if you want to get fit (as in have more oxygen efficiency through your lungs). Weight training and HIIT training is more effective for fat burning.
What is HIIT? High Intensity Interval Training. As little as 20 mins 2-3 times per week will absolutely smash those fat cells!!! Couple this with weight training and you won’t know yourself! It is more efficient (requires less time) and more effective (burn more fat without breaking down muscle tissue.)
What sort of HIIT should you perform?
You can use the basics like Treadmill, bike, x-trainer etc (including the street) where you sprint (and I mean sprint!!!) for 1 minute, power walk for 1 minute. Keep alternating.
Hill climbs is even better! Walking or sprinting.
Skipping is another awesome one. Skip for a minute, rest for a minute. But skip FAST!
Boot Camps and Circuit classes like the ones we conduct are awesome because you work flat out for a minute before rotating and ‘resting’.
Cardio Boxing is another one that is fantastic!
Another reason why HIIT is awesome is because it incorporates strength training (the resistance of sprinting or hills for eg) within the cardio, so you get the best of both worlds. And it’s time efficient.
Always complete your weight training PRIOR to any Cardio or HIIT training so that your muscles work the hardest during weight training and are not fatigued. This will ensure that you get the most out of your training. Finish with HIIT.
Follow this up with a good stretch, a cold shower, and a great meal of protein, good fats and lots of good carbs so that your body can repair and recover quickly. A liquid post workout meal is ideal because it helps put the crucial nutrients back into the muscle quickly, then follow it up about an hour later with a solid meal. When I say liquid I don’t mean a protein shake. Those who know me well know that I hate protein shakes; money making synthetic crap! Opt for a drink like http://terrificfitness.com.au/
Why a cold shower? It reduces inflammation in the body, a bit like a ice pack on a rolled ankle.
And if you can, also supplement with Branch Chain Amino Acids. These will help repair and recover the muscles efficiently and effectively and reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness – day 2 muscle pain).
So my dears, this is MUCH more effective than killing yourself doing hours of cardio. Unless your goals is stress relief
That’s it from me for now.