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Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Internet gurus Vs cardio

Robbie Hazeley - Champion over 50's vegan bodybuilder

OK I've been reading a lot lately about cardio that's been pretty ...well wrong.

"Steady state cardio doesn't work"

"You only burn fat using high intensity cardio"

I've even read that steady state cardio makes you fat!

So, is steady state cardio the villain, is it a waste of time, does it "do nothing", whoever says that, whatever their apparent experience is wrong. I've worked & been in communication with many, many athletes in the strength field including bodybuilders. When I say bodybuilders I mean all types, natural people, fitness & figure competitors, drug taking people, on all types of diets, & what I've found is when you are already training with weights steady state & diet works, look on any bodybuilding stage (be it natural or drug taking) & you'll find that weights plus steady state works. In fact I'd go further & say that often if your aim is to diet down to those really low % fat levels so you get abs popping out & paper thin skin over your muscles then you'll only have energy for weights & steady state. All the energy goes into the weights, there shouldn't be anything left for interval sprints, kettlebell lifts etc. If you have enough left for more intense activity then you aren't dieting hard enough or training hard enough under the iron.

Denise Nicole - vegan figure competitor

For a normal guy or lady the options are more wide ranging as you're often just after a flat tummy, moderate fat levels & just a 'beach buff' look, so you have options. If time is tight I'd suggest a metabolic workout using complexes or very short breaks between exercises, get in & out the gym in a way that combines both heavy-style lifting with cardio exertion. I don't believe you get the best of the weights or the cardio by doing this, but you'd certainly get enough to get your body into decent shape in a short amount of time. Another option is the to do weights at a slower pace working on strength gains (&/or size gains if those are required), then add cardio. Yes it can be high intensity style cardio, it works! The trouble is it doesn't always fit into your lifestyle & low intensity can often come to the rescue & keep that cardio going. Let's say you come to a session & energy is high, well feel free to bang out some sprints, hit the stationary bike with a vengeance, go swim as fast as you can for intervals, but sometimes you may not have the energy or indeed the motivation to go as hard at the cardio. This may be for many reasons, stress at work, late night, even hitting new record can lower the 'spare energy' for cardio. So, do you do a sub-standard 'High intensity' workout, that does next to nothing or do a decent low intensity session that gets the job done? Another reason may be you simply don't like doing higher intensity cardio, but enjoy lower intensity work. If you hate something you simply won't do it with any consistency, so if you love your slow run around the woods, but hate the interval sled pushes, I'd suggest that maybe you'll be more likely to keep up the runs, but drop the sled pushing as soon as you can think up a justification. I believe the 'getting it done' is more important than the perfect program for you. Sure making you do hill sprints 3 times a week might get you to your goals slightly quicker than three times a week around the woods for 45 minute jogs....but if you enjoy the jogs, look forward to the jogs, plan to get those jogs in whatever & on the other hand loath the hill sprints, use any excuse not to do them, which system do you think will bring most results?

Anthony Aurelius - vegan, Natural bodybuilder & martial artist

I personally have seen countless examples of steady state cardio in action (along with diet & lifting weights). Steady state works. Whether steady state is right for you is quite another issue, things like time, enjoyment, goals & many other factors mean it's not an obvious choice, you need to ask yourself questions & answer honestly. Me, I'm happy to mix & match depending upon my time & energy & how I feel. I often do steady state with friends in the morning, I live near the sea, we hit the beach jog & chat. A chilled out start to my day, sets me up in the right zone & I get some interaction I'd otherwise miss with friends. It's as much social to me as exercise, but other times often when I'm alone I do go for higher intensity, I sprint, I get out the sandbags, kettlebells, a barbell or even just bodyweight & go for some higher intensity stuff. 10-20 minutes full-bore cardio can bring you a sick feeling in the tummy, shaky muscles & a desire to just lie there for the rest of the day! But for me I need that work at least once a week just to remind me that cardio can be tough. So, I stand with one foot in each camp I do both the steady state & the higher intensity cardio. I enjoy both for their different reasons & I think maybe that would be the best method for most people who are in reasonable shape.

Jane Burton - vegan figure competitor

For those who are overweight, new to training or have other issues I'd always start with steady state, first walking, then jogging, stationary bike, slow swim or whatever you like to do. Do that until you feel very comfortable doing 30-45 minutes, then try adding some faster endings to your training, so if you're running just add a fast run to the finish over the last 100 metres or so, you won't sprint, but you'll start getting used to just going a little bit faster towards the end. After you've done that for a while, then it's time to move on to increasing the intensity with maybe a small jog & a few fast runs, then finally begin to ease in sprints as you gain confidence (back off if you notice any problems). I usually aim at 8-12 sprints over around 12-15 minutes. I tend to use a heart monitor, but you can go by time. A good rule of thumb for the healthy individual is to sprint just before you feel fully recovered. Once you can no longer sprint but just reach a fast run, then it's time to stop, your session is over for today...really push it, force those legs into a sprint even if they don't want to do it! Then rest & recover.

Martin Whittred - vegan grip master

So, when you're on the internet next time & you read that steady state doesn't work or makes you fat or whatever, know that the person saying that is either ignorant or is trying to simply push 'their' training system (& often part you with your cash!). Steady state works, high intensity cardio works, they are all tools that you can use to achieve your goals, so if you plan at getting into shape for the beach this year & are about to embark on a diet & training plan, but have been confused by all the chatter on the internet, bear in mind there are 1001 ways to reach your goals it's just comes down to picking one or two & sticking to them, that way you'll soon have the body you want come summer time!