13 WEEKS OUT: CARDIO MYTHS
Myths about what is the best type of cardio will probably be with us for a long time to come, unfortunately. There is no One size fits all as far as cardio, though there are some simple rules that you can use to determine what type of cardio is going to suite your own goals. I use al types of cardio, I just choose which one suits me needs best for what I want to achieve that day. Here are the different styles I have found beneficial.
COUNTING STEPS: This is very popular at the moment, and the reasoning is sound. Let’s look at some of the benefits of counting steps and why this may be a good method for some.
- By starting to count steps you get an idea of what your average activity level is each day. Then it makes it easy to manipulate and track energy output.
- It is very easy to adjust daily by having a measurable quantity
- Counting steps tends to make you more conscious of periods of inactivity
- Walking is generally in the fat burning range and shouldn’t impact the nervous system as much as weights or HIIT sessions, while still using fat as an energy source.
- Walking is a good method you want to shift fat at a steady rate, want to get outside and see nature or don’t have too much fat to lose.
HIIT: High Intensity Interval Training is also very popular at the moment and for good reason. If you want to spike your metabolism or don’t have a huge amount of spare time then a shorter, more intense cardio session could be the answer. There is a near infinite amount of ways you can structure a HIIT session and this translates over to being more interesting for most people. For a lot of people regular cardio holds little interest, they simply stop doing it because variety is not thought about. Most HIIT sessions are presented with variability built in and ultimately a good cardio session is one that actually gets done regularly.
On the flip side HIIT sessions are high intensity and you only have one nervous system. On days where you have smashed out a big leg or back session then interval sprints later in the day are going to be sub-par at best. A regular steady state cardio session (walking or bike) may be a better choice in this instance.
STAIR CLIMBER: while more steady state than HIIT or a group class, the stair climber is tougher than brisk walking and counting steps. Again, you only have 1 nervous system so doing the stair climber on leg day is only for the insane/high level competitor. Fat will come off you quickly using the stair climber so I definitely recommend you add a few stair climber sessions each week to complement your other types of cardio. At 13 weeks out I’m personally doing 1 star climber session each day except for leg day. As the contest approaches this may increase to 2 per day.
FASTED CARDIO: Unless you are in ketosis, there is always going to be some glucose in the blood, muscles or liver. By doing cardio fasted or when you haven’t had carbohydrates for many hours, you can slightly improve the ratio of carbohydrates to fat used for energy. Having said that the most important thing by far is that you actually do the cardio session, don’t get too hung up on fasted cardio. Just make sure it gets done fasted or not.
THE BOTTOM (TRIMMING) LINE: My personal experience with regular cardio (walking/stationary bike) is that when performed regularly, fat comes off steadily while energy levels are still high enough to smash out a productive weights session each day. If the fat isn’t coming off quickly enough or you need to get really lean then you will have to add HIIT or Stair Climber in. Neural adaptation is not our friend when it comes to burning calories through cardio, so mix it up.
I would encourage people to experiment for themselves to see what works best for you. Don’t blindly follow the one size fits all Gurus, keep track of your results and in no time at all you will have a good understanding of which style of cardio suits you and how you can utilize all styles to get a great result.
Next Week we are going to look at how to keep Testosterone levels high while dieting in order to retain Muscle Mass.