Cardio sucks? We say, not true!
We show you six training methods than burn fat better and improve your cardio.
‘I never do cardio”
You can hear this sentence often from hobby-bodybuilders and strength athletes. Most of those that are so proud of the muscles they have worked so hard for will shy away from cardio training as often as they can. Unfortunately, the misconception is still alive that cardio training will melt away your muscles because your body uses them for energy generation.
If you’re into bodybuilding you will count every carbohydrate. Those that want to build muscle should make sure they have enough energy to fuel muscle growth. And cardio training burns calories.
Well, so does strength training!
So what is the deal ith cardio, fat burning, and muscle growth and how do you maintain mass? This blog post will try to shed some light.
Admittedly, bodybuilding is an extreme cult of the body. Everybody wants to look good naked. But bodybuilders want to look even better naked. They want to look massive and strive for as much muscle mass as possible with a low body fat percentage as possible.
Before we go on, though, we should differentiate between ambitious or professional practitioners of this sport and the hobby bodybuilders I have mentioned earlier.
The latter often concentrate on those muscles that can be seen in the mirror and avoid cardio at all costs. This mindest stems from the belief that muscle growth demands huge amounts of protein and calories – mostly from carbs – and cardio training would just require too much of those valuable resources.
Every cell, especially muscle cells, indeed needs amino acids and energy in the form of glucose for growth. Protein (which consists of amino acids) can be found in meat, fish, legumes, and dairy. Almost every bodybuilder additionally drinks protein shakes to increase their protein intake.
The fastest and easiest way to fulfill your demand for energy is to consume readily-available carbs in the form of sugar or starch. The insulin reaction that follows is also an important factor that influences muscle growths (obviously, many other hormones and nutrients play an important role here but let’s focus on this aspect).
So far, so good.
Another misconception is mistaking cardio training for endless sessions on the treadmill or on a stationary bike. I’m sorry guys but the amount of calories you burn with this is, let’s say, moderate. If you spend one hour on the crosstrainer you will likely burn 800 kcal. That is, if you don’t watch TV and focus on your workout. That doesn’t even burn the calories of the pizza you had last night. So in general you shouldn’t be worried about losing your hard-earned muscles with this kind of training. And this shows that you won’t be able to reduce your body fat effectively with this kind of training as well.
Those of you that are little more educated about training in general will know that cardio training should be an elementary part of training. Not necessarily because you want to reduce your body fat but to stay/become fit and healthy. For the cardiovascular system, the nervous system, and the metabolism like to be challenged in many different ways.
A wholesome fitness training should have a significant cardio portion! Many training programs even combine strength and cardio training in an enjoyable manner. Whether it’s a combination of running intervals with functional strength exercises or in the form of indoor rowers or simply burpees. This incorporates a high number of muscle groups (above 60% of your body’s musculature) that you can call it cardio training. Even doing the exercises faster and/or without breaks in between will quickly get your heart rate up, your lungs firing, and your metabolism working.
And there is absolutely no need to be afraid of your body using the precious muscle mass during cardio training. Even though 1 g of protein has 4 kcal of energy, your body would still use other nutrients before touching its protein reserves. And as long as you supply your body with the carbs that it turns into energy during training there is nothing standing in the way of your muscle growth.
If you ask yourself how you can add more cardio training to your workouts try one of the following workouts:
- Freestyle training
Grab your aeroSling dynamic suspension trainer or blackPack sandbag and go to the nearest park, forest or whatever you prefer. Start to run or 5-10 minutes until you find a suitable training spot. Now, your aeroSling or blackPack come into play. 2-3 rounds of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). Afterwards, pack in your equipment and start running again.
This kind of training creates more than enough impulses for your muscles as well as your cardiovascular system.
- Super sets
This might not sound very interesting but it really is. Have you ever trained without any considerable breaks?
Your muscles are decently challenged and then have to work in another exercise without any time to recover. The CrossFit boom of recent years has made this form of training even more popular. In the so-called AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible) you will do a certain amount of exercises (e.g. 4) with a pre-determined number of reps in a given time frame (e.g. 20 minutes). Keeping breaks to an absolute minimum you will complete as many rounds as possible. This kind of training will kick your metabolism right between the … eyes. You can find an examplary workout here.
- revvll training
It’s no coincidence that the name rhymes with devil. Whether you pull, push or rotate – the endless rope trainer keeps you working constantly. The long time under tension creates enormous impulses for your muscles and the cardiovascular system. And it turns up your metabolism. Here is an example video:
And I don’t mean to splash around a bit and go down the waterslide several times. Real swimming with technique and for considerable distances burns a great amount of calories and still challenges your muscles. Thermoregulation of the body alone requires a good portion of energy. You can almost hear the fat melting away. Under water… if you’re very quiet…
For example, try to use only your legs or your arms for 4 of your 20 laps. Enjoy the pump! 😉
- Rowing on the indoor rower
If you have the space (and money) at home or your gym has one of the rowing ergometers sit down and start rowing. There aren’t many muscles that don’t have to work in this movement. You like to row with your aeroSling, the cable row or bent over with your barbell? All good exercises, but try completing the movement pattern on the rowing ergometer and you will feel your strength growing and your endurance improving.
- Kettlebell training
I can tell you from personal experience: kettlebell training is an ultra effective fat burning and cardio training, most and foremost when the kettlebell is used as a ballistic training tool. Kettlebell snatches, cleans, and swings are challenging full body exercises that will make you gasp for air. The explosive movements and the constant body tension challenge you holistically. It is a very athletic training that is simply fun to do. How about this: 2 Turkish get-ups left, Turkish get-ups right, and then an opposing ladder of 1-21 swings and 21-1 Burpees. Trust me, you will think about quitting repeatedly. Don’t do it, it is worth it!
What do all these training methods have in common?
They all consist of high intensity exercises with minimal breaks. Countless studies have proven the positive effect of this method on the cardio performance of the body. The wide-spread knowledge that fat burning only begins after 30 minutes of jogging or biking can be dismissed as broscience. You don’t have to work for more than 30 minutes to create positive effects on your cardio. The same can be said about a certain heart rate of X beats per minute, which is said to be in the ‘fat burning zone’, which is generally disregarded in modern training programs.
Another advantage of these training methods is the faact that your body keeps burning calories even after you have finished your workout. The so-called after burner effect comes into play here. And the muscles that you build with these workouts will also burn more calories in a steady state because the body simply needs more energy to maintain the increased amount of muscle mass. When you step from the elliptical trainer you stop burning calories the moment your feet touch the floor.
So tell us about your cardio training! Do you squeeze in the occasional cardio session or are you an advocate of the ‘death before cardio’ lifestyle? If you do it, why? Do you want to burn body fat or do you want to increase your overall performance? Let us know in the comments!
P.S.: a sixpack is made in the kitchen!