Cardio. I, like every other exercising chick up in here, was OBSESSED with cardio. I mean at LEAST an hour a day, 45 minutes if I'm giving myself a 'break' that day. I have been through countless trainers (that's dramatic, I can count them, there's been 4) and all of them were totally on board with me getting my pale ass on the elliptical and killing it for an hour...after we had trained for an hour.
I have always been obsessed with the gym. I'm pretty sure ever since my mom got the 'go ahead' after pushing me out of the womb, her first stop was the gym. Monkey see, monkey do. When I was 6, I used to go with my grandpa on the weekends to the gym. I couldn't understand why I had to sit in the underwater themed Kid's Club while he got to play racquetball and lift weights. SO unfair. When I was 14, it was finally all me. I made my mom drop me off at the gym, and my dad would pick me up on my way home from work. I loved it. When my heart was broken, the gym was there. When I had anxiety, the gym was there. When I was angry, the gym was there. And then something changed. It suddenly became:
- When I ate dessert, the gym was there.
- When I felt fat, the gym was there.
- When I ate breakfast, the gym was there.
- When I ate lunch, the gym was there.
- When I ate dinner, the gym was there.
- When I didn't eat at all, the gym was still there.
Today, I have a much healthier attitude towards exercise. This is due LARGELY in part to my amazing, god send of a trainer, Jon Gustin. My body has changed more in the last few months I've been training with him than ever before. I have muscles now guys! AND I'm doing barely any cardio. Coincidence? I think not. So I asked Jon if he would write today's entry about why we DON'T need to do so much god damn cardio. Because let's face it, it is SO boring after 15 minutes.
As a trainer almost every time I train someone new they come to me with one goal, 'I want to lose weight' or 'I want to tone up.'
The first question I ask is, "Well, what have you been doing recently for your workouts?”
They respond, “cardio.”
Then I ask, “How long do you typically do cardio?”
They respond "anywhere between 45 min to two hours!"
Now this response is applicable to female and male clients, however, male clients are more open to the fact that our weight loss/tone up program will include a small amount of cardio. Female clients freak out at the idea. Then, I proceed to tell them that we will mostly be doing weights and they REALLY freak out. They usually respond with, “But I don’t want to get bulky!” So if your current long duration cardio program is working so well, why are you coming to me for training? Oh that's right, because it’s not working.
Let me explain how first the so-called “fat burning zone” is a very old technique that is proven nearly to be ineffective in weight loss. Also I’ll explain how you can burn more calories and more fat in half the time. Because let's be honest, if you’re talking on the phone, facebooking, or watching a movie in the gym…. You aren’t working hard enough! I know there are tons and tons of theories on fat loss and the most effective ways to go about it. I’m going to lay the facts out and you can either choose to continue to spend hours in the gym or use your time more efficiently.
The Fat Burning Zone is claimed to be the optimal training intensity for burning fat: intensity between 60 and 75 percent of your predicted maximum heart rate. (Which is estimated at 220 minus your age.) The theory behind this is that the lower the exercise intensity, the greater percentage of energy requirements is met by fat. Then there is the 'cardio zone', 70 and 85 percent of max heart rate and the major energy requirements are met by carbs. So here is where the “fat burning zone” shows it flaws. When sleeping, 90 percent of energy comes from fat stores. So why workout at all? We have come to the realization that the “fat burning zone” has a complete disregard for total calories consumed.
So here comes the simple part. They key to weight loss is a calorie deficit (more energy out than in). For example, if you train in your “fat burning zone” for 30 min and burn 400 calories, 60 percent coming from fat, you will have burned a total of 240 calories from fat. But if you trained in your "cardio zone" and burned an estimated 700 calories, with a lower 40 percent coming from fat, your calories from fat burned equals 280. So now you have the same amount of time but nearly double the calories and MORE fat calories. You’ll NEVER stay at intensity where you’ll just burn fat. Your body uses fat, carbohydrates, and sometimes protein for energy. However, using protein for energy is the result of not enough carbohydrates and calories resulting in muscle loss. This is the quickest route to looking “soft.” So make sure you have a simple sugar before and after you workout.
Ok, back to cardio. Does a lower intensity result in a higher percentage of fat loss, yes. The example above proves that. But is it going to help in losing weight and toning up? Maybe, but definitely not the most effective. Look, have you seen a marathon runner? They do tons and tons of “fat burning” cardio. Are they in great shape? Yes. Do they look toned? No. Now, look at a sprinter. Do they have a toned look? Yes! My point is the more intense and shorter bouts of exercise are most effective. There's interval training, cross training, circuit training, and if you are capable, there’s crossfit. All are extremely effective in burning a ton of calories, increasing metabolic rate throughout the whole day, and toning you up. “Fat burning” cardio burns calories while you are participating in it but because of the low stress on your system, your body doesn’t really need to adapt, resulting in practically no change in metabolic rate.
Here’s the simplest theory I can give you. Bust your ass! Spend no more than an hour in the gym, put music on and turn off any outside distractions. Bust your ass for that hour, lift weights with high reps, little rest between sets (30 sec – 60 secs), do intervals for 10 – 20 min. Make sure to eat sufficient carbohydrates, healthy fats, protein, and overall enough calories throughout the day. Forget the “fat burning zone!” It’s an old school method that bodybuilders still use in fear that they will lose muscle. These techniques are proven to be the least effective nowadays. Eat Clean, Train Dirty, and leave the excuses elsewhere.
|One of my favorite lines, "Cardio makes you look good in cloths, lifting weights makes you look good naked"|
Bottom line yo, weight lifting > cardio. Ladies, you aren't going to get bulky. You actually couldn't do it even if you tried. Unless you were on steroids in which case, well, you're probably huge. Start lifting weights and doing INTENSE cardio (the kind where you literally can't speak you're so exhausted, let alone update your status about how bad the dude next to you smells) for 20 minutes max. Your body will respond so well, you don't even know. Because you haven't done it. So seriously why are you still reading this...go...now! x