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The Anti Cardio Movement
Ah cardio, one of the most disputed training modalities in the health and fitness world. With questions such as “Is it necessary for fat loss?” or “Will I lose all my gains?” plaguing internet forums it’s probably no wonder why cardiovascular training is so misunderstood. To jump right in I’ll say that cardio offers a plethora of health benefits to both the lifter and non-lifter alike and contrary to the broscience and I guess hate mongering being spread around the web, with a properly executed program and by using smart and sensible cardio you will not lose muscle mass. I think recently, incorporating cardio into your routine has become slightly more popular thanks to guys such as Alex Viada and his coaches at Completed Human Performance and furthermore thanks to Viadas book which I reviewed here a while ago. I for one, do cardio most days, say 5/7 (a perfect score) and while considering my 5’5 frame you’re not gonna see me jogging anywhere or attempting a 10k. However my dwarven brethren and I do seem to have a slight knack for sprinting. The overall direction of this article is going to be to explain why you should be doing cardio, to dispel the myths and fears of cardio and I’ll be listing some of my favourite forms as well as cardio options I think are either dangerous or just downright dumb. Now when it comes to cardiovascular training we usually have two camps of people. On one side they believe cardio is the be all and end all and that doing steady state cardio is vital to sculpt the ideal physique. On the other side we have the guys that believe walking to the shops might tap into their muscle building processes, make them go catabolic and hence hinder their gains. Both of these camps are just downright daft. Recently I’ve seen it’s become “cool” or “popular” to avoid cardio, with the emergency of many online coaches spouting all sorts of rubbish about how they eat pizzas everyday and never do any cardio. These guys and anyone who tells you to avoid cardio is a moron, plain and simple. I’ll admit cardio isn’t “necessary” for weight loss, that can be achieved primarily by altering your diet. However, you need to be looking at the big picture here; which is health and longevity. Cardiovascular exercise can come in many forms, technically anything that elevates the heart rate and thus promotes blood flow throughout the entire body for a variable period of time can be considered cardio. When we talk about the different forms we usually refer to the different energy systems each form utilizes primarily, those being; the ATP-CP, anaerobic and aerobic systems. I think each type has a time and a place for use and stresses the body in different manners. I firmly believe though, that the best way to do cardio is alongside a solid strength training program. Too many people gravitate to one or the other when in reality it would be wiser and healthier to incorporate both forms of training so that they may compliment one another. I’ve worked/work in gyms and I’ve seen some mind boggling shit, and the most common issue I see with people doing cardio is a lack of drive or intention. I mean just the other night I saw a couple of girls jump on the treadmill for 20 minutes, then they jumped on the bike for another 20 minutes, then the rower, then the cross trainer, then the stepper and finished off with a final 20 minutes on the skier type thing for a total of 2 hours of zero intensity bullshit. Yes, I know anything is better than nothing but is it really? Another big issue I see is the lack of progression, people come in and repeat the same shit over and over. Progressive overload applies to more than strength training. If you’re doing cardiovascular exercise then you should really be getting fitter, for that is the overall goal. Get intense, challenge yourself, do something fun, bloody hell dare to enjoy your training! It’s like that saying about insanity; “doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results”. Push yourself and make progress! Now another big issue, which I think was highly popularized by bodybuilders is the idea of fasted cardio. People who believe you’ll be burning more fat because you’re in a “fasted” state are probably the same people who don’t eat carbs after 6pm who need to read up on digestion rates. I’ve not heard much of it being spouted recently so I’m hoping this “advice” is starting to die down. My last issue is more centered towards the average gym goer, and that is playing it by ear. This applies to all aspects of training. Now if you wanna just piss around and just enjoy exercising then by all means go for it, but to actually train requires a goal and purpose. So here’s the three types of cardio you could and should be doing: Steady State Cardio People are probably quite familiar with this one. Most people automatically start doing this instinctively. I feel like 9/10 who decide they want to lose weight immediately take up jogging or walking which is fine, if you’re strong enough to do it. I might be being prejudice but I feel that the majority of people who take up jogging as a means of losing weight or to become healthier probably aren’t in the best shape and should probably learn to walk and squat before they jog. So steady state training is exactly what it sounds like, moving at a steady state at a relatively moderate to low intensity for an extended period of time (usually 30-60 minutes). You can do this with mostly anywhere and/or with any cardio machine you see such as the treadmill, cross trainer, bike, rowing machine, recumbent bike etc etc. This type of cardio is very easy on the body, really great for a …