Cardio – The Truth (finally)
For any person, the amount of fat you want to lose will be controlled by your energy balance. This balance can only be changed in one of two ways; through decreasing calories or increasing your activity. One of the best ways to do this is to combine approaches and develop more lean muscle and increase your BMR (I’ll explain about that another time…) but for some lifting weights everyday just isn’t practical or optimal. So to increase our daily activity (and therefore calories burnt) we can do cardio to help, plus there is also some nice other health benefits in doing cardio!
Not all cardio is equal…
If you think cardio is going for a jog, you should probably keep reading! Cardio (short for cardiovascular training) is about training the different energy systems of the body and generally people are missing out on the good progress that can be made if you are using cardio effectively.
So what should you be doing?
High Intensity Interval Training is a system of organising cardio training into repeated bouts of short duration, all-out effort exercise intervals. For example; 12 seconds all out on the Watt bike, with 2mins rest repeated 5 times.
HIIT produces more fat loss in a shorter period of time. Great so we should just do HIIT right?
- If you ever have done HIIT I mean true HIIT Running sprints or on a Watt bike it is exhausting and can leave you flagging and drained for the rest of the day having an impact on your recovery and strength.
- Plus you can only do this tough training so many times (you have to psyche yourself up to push yourself to really give it your all for HIIT for it to truly have an impact).
The best bit?
HITT has less of an impact on hypertrophy and creating/keeping lean muscles. So you can burn those calories, lose fat and keep those muscles; all in minutes of effort, not hours.
Sounds stressful! What other cardio is there?
Low Intensity Steady State training Instead of pushing yourself to breaking point for a short burst of time, you should aim for a low level of exertion for a long, continuous period. This includes; walking for sustained pace for 45mins, a steady bike ride or even some gardening!
No doubt, LISS is more convenient and practical.
- It is not as tiring. You don’t need to get all psyched up, literally just leave the house and start walking.
- You can multi task, you can be doing LISS whilst being on Instagram, watching TV or even reading this! We have a few podcasts to recommend as well, more on that soon.
Sounds perfect! So just go for a jog then, Yusuf??
- Hold on! It does take time and do you really have an hour spare in the day to cycle, walk or swim? Sometimes more isn’t less..
- Studies have shown that too much LISS training has more of an impact on hypertrophy and maintaining muscle mass that HIIT due to the catabolic nature of the energy systems used, I’ll fill you in on the science next week.
Here are some things to keep in mind and take home from all this.
- Cardio is a great tool but can be over used, especially if in a calorie deficit, stick to 2-3 times per week and mix it up.
- Long steady can be used as its own training to develop your aerobic system and aid in muscle recovery (as well as Vitamin D levels if you get outside!)
- If doing HIIT try to do it on a separate day to your weights/resistance sessions.
- If you do both on the same day try separate the sessions for as long has possible I.E. weights in the morning, cardio in the evening. And if you haven’t got the time then do some weights first then the cardio.
- As ever, the value of this training is all dependant on the individual and the goals. If you have a specific goal then you need to train a specific way, if you want a balance then make sure you do exactly that and go for a walk every now and again.
Whatever you do, enjoy it.
Now go get it!