I had just finished up with my 5AM workout group for the day. They had all just busted their butts doing some circuit style full body training, a little boxing work, and a few running sessions all before the sun came up.
As we gathered in close to stretch out after the workout, I was going over how important stretching is, and admitting how I have been slacking on my stretching up until a few weeks prior. I started talking about how I have been incorporating intra-set stretching between my lifts, during my rest periods instead of just standing around. I gave an example of how during my squats the other day I would do one set, then stretch my hips during the rest for 30 seconds on each side.
Then it happened…the question.
“But what do you do for cardio?”
(Lift weights faster, bro! – NO)
I paused and hesitated to answer for a second. She felt like she had offended me, and started apologizing and saying that she didn’t mean it to sound so insinuating (she is one of the nicest people I have ever met, so I just giggled a little bit)
The reason I paused was because I had to think about it, honestly. I don’t run. I don’t bike. I don’t swim. I don’t “cardio”.
Here is where my answer was crucial, and how most trainers who don’t “cardio” can slip up and end up sounding like pricks.
I believe my answer was something like, “well, I really don’t do traditional cardio, because I personally don’t enjoy it, I never have, and I like lifting and doing more unconventional cardio, like kettlebell swings, rope slams, sled work, etc.”
I followed that up with the bigger picture, and this is what I want you to take away from this post. Do what you enjoy, what gets you results, and what works for YOU. There is no one size fits all program, workout, fat loss plan, etc.
Now we have to ask, why does one “do cardio”? I would say most answers would be centered around fat loss (or dreaded weight loss) or for cardiorespiratory fitness/endurance. Not that these aren’t decent answers, but another good one would be “because I enjoy it”.
Lets take a look at my situation:
- I am a 210 pound, 26 year old, Male
- I work at a job where I am on my feet 6-10 hours per day, tracking around 15,000-20,000 steps per day
- I lift weights 3-4 times per week
- I eat roughly the same foods every single day (dinners tend to vary more)
First, I have age, gender, and body type on my side. A majority of my clients are 35-55 year old women. Do you realize how stupid some male trainers, my age must sound talking to these women about “you just need to run faster, lift heavier, eat healthier…blah,blah,blah”?
I am always the first to admit, I have the advantage of youth and hormones on my side. It’s a fact.
Second, I an active all day. This is know as NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) or how much your move during the day outside of planned exercise. Click here to read more about NEAT.
This is a HUGE and often overlooked factor when it comes to losing and keeping fat off. More movement in the day adds up to more calories burned in the end. Move more!
Third, I exercise 3-4 days per week with weights. I usually end up using heavy weights, going to near failure on final sets, and monitoring my rest periods between sets. I will sometimes superset exercises, giant set, drop set…essentially boost my intensity with the weights.
Confused as to what all those terms are? Check out my
Lastly, I eat roughly the same foods everyday, especially for breakfast and lunch. I change up fruits and veggies here and there, but really my starchy carbs, protein quantities and fat intake all remains the same for most of the day, day after day. This is what works for me, it doesn’t get boring, and it keeps me at my desired body weight for right now.
When I do feel like getting my heart rate jacked up I will usually go with some forms of high intensity cardio (swing, sleds, ropes, etc.). Why? Because this is what I enjoy doing, and honestly I can get it over with faster.
Is this type of training, cardio, and weight lifting approach going to work for everyone? NO!
Remember, its what you enjoy doing that will keep you going for the long term. Could I benefit from doing some more traditional cardio? Absolutely! It is great for cardiovascular endurance, heart health, and yes even maintaining optimal body fat levels (sorry to the anti-cardio bros out there).
For more info, check out this fantastic article by Tony Gentilcore on T Nation all about how cardio won’t make you lose your gainz.
Do what you enjoy, what gets you where you want to be, and what helps keep you in optimal health. You be you! All this talk about cardio actually has me tempted to do a little spinning this afternoon…
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Stay healthy my friends,