5 ESSENTIAL FACTIODS ABOUT CARDIO YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GET LEAN AND DEFINED
So many times have I seen programmes, where when based around fat loss or getting “ripped” begin to up the cardio ante. I’m sure this is something you’ve thought about or implemented within your own training programmes too, since it’s what we’re all lead to believe. Since doing more cardio will help us loose fat, right!?Now first off let me just say that I’m not against cardio style exercise. But for you to think that you NEED to do cardio exercise to get leaner and more defined
is a big misconception. Here are a few facts to consider, I’m presenting these in bulletin point format just so the facts are easier for you to consider and take in.
Just so you know; LSD” means Long Slow Distance training. A slightly more ‘posh’ name for cardio. For the purpose of what we’re talking about today consider cardio exercise to be any constant form of exercise that’s longer than about 10 minutes in duration, performed at a slow to moderate pace, for example running, cycling, on a cross trainer, rowing, swimming and so on.
High intensity exercise and resistance training typically burn fewer calories than LSD training. However high intensity exercise and resistance training have a lasting effect on your calorie burning potential at rest, some studies suggesting that it can burn up to a few hundred extra calories within the hours to follow. So basically during cardio the calories you burn will only be those you burn whilst doing the exercise. On the other hand more high intensity methods and resistance exercise will continue to burn some calories afterwards. Don’t get me wrong it could be just a handful of calories, or it could be a few hundred. Fact being if you think cardio is better at burning calories then it’s not as simple as you think. If you only have once a day to train for half an hour then consider wether cardio is your best option. HIIT, Circuit based training or MRT (see my previous article on this HERE ) might be your better option. If you have longer to train, or so,stiles train twice per day then a cardio session wouldn’t go a miss.
One of the arguments for using LSD training is that it allows you to train within your bodies fat burning ‘zone’. If you’ve ever hopped on a piece of cardio equipment chances are that you’ve seen it, that colourful chart full of numbers that depict what training zone means what, and what percentage of your maximal heart rate you need to reach to get in the fat burning zone. Most say that your peak fat burning potential is around 60-70% of your maximal heart rate. The aim here isn’t to go in to a science lesson, but how about if I said to you that you’re burning the most fat as a fuel source when you’re sitting down doing nothing, or even just walking?! The fat burning zone is meant to be a mix of calorie burning potential and rate of fat burning (I.e., lipolysis). It’s absolute rubbish though, although this zone does technically exist, it gives you no better results for weight loss than by say doing cardio at either 55% or 75% of your maximal heart rate when the calories burned are equal. A calorie burned during cardio exercise is just a calorie burned, no matter what zone it comes from. Working at a higher intensity (e.g., 75%) just means you’ll have to spend less time doing LSD than if you were doing say 55%).
LSD training should just be seen as an extra way to to burn calories, and provide a calorie deficit. You can actually compensate the calories burned by doing LSD training by just eating a little less instead. Let’s say you spend 20 minutes on a treadmill every day and burn 250 calories a time. By the end of the week you’ll have burned about 1750 calories. What if you just cut out 1750 calories from your weekly food consumption? As much as it pains me to say it but as far as fat loss results go the results will be pretty similar. Obviously the exercise would have had an effect on cardiovascular health, probably enhanced your mood and many other health benefits, but here the fat loss would be about the same. Oh and by the way I’m playing a little devils advocate here; I’d always encourage more exercise over compensating with food, but hopefully what I’ve explained above will help you to see cardio exercise a little differently. The converse of the above is also true. If you just replace that 250 calories burned with 250 calories on top of your normal daily food (e.g., go out for a run get home and eat a Mars bar) you might as well have not done the cardio at all. You won’t get any closer to achieving a leaner more defined physique by carrying on this way.
LSD training has an effect on MToR. No science lesson needed here, all you need to know is that MToR is the biochemical reaction behind muscle growth. It’s very hard to gain lean mass without MToR being activated in some way. If you’d like to read up on some of the mechanisms behind muscle hypertrophy and how to activate MToR then I’ve done a whole article that’s a bit sciencey if you want to check that out HERE . But here’s the deal with MToR: Resistance training activates MToR. LSD training activates something else called AMPK. AMPK can completely shut-off MToR. MToR can NOT do the same thing to AMPK. So what that means it that the resistance training your doing is probably going to be completely wasted if you bung some cardio on top of it in the same session or on the same day. What that also means is that due to the effects of AMPK which will be elevated if you’re doing lots of cardio, you will in fact be pretty much killing your lean mass and strength gains. Yes I said it; cardio kills your gains!
When people switch from muscle building/shaping plans on to fat loss plans they automatically drop the amount of resistance exercise they do and up the cardio. Result? They loose strength and muscle mass. Surely the goal during a fat loss phase is to loose ‘fat’ and preserve muscle, otherwise it’d just be a generic weight loss programme. You might as well go to one of those weight loss classes they’re doing down your local hall if weight loss is what your after! A good fat loss programme should be able to incorporate cardio work if needed, whilst not sacrificing on the amount of resistance training you do.
I’m not against cardio at all, but you do need to be aware of its positives and negatives, wether it’s right for you, if it fits in with your programme, and wether it’s absolutely essential for YOU to get lean and defined. In fact in my upcoming debut e-programme The Metabolic Edge Plan, due for release at the end of this month, some cardio work is actually included. That’s because I’ve managed to find a clever way to include it that won’t hinder your lean mass, whilst allowing you to get leaner and more defined quicker using other exciting forms of training. I’m very proud of it to say the least and can’t wait to share it with you.
The next time your about to do some cardio, just consider the above points. Make sure it’s an asset within your overall programme, rather than slowing down your progress.
Also known as “The Fitness Maverick”, Gareth specializes in smarter training techniques to get you strong and looking great naked year round!