Building a shapely body that is muscular and lean forms the foundation for the goals we are trying to achieve and surpass. To ensure that our hopes in fulfilling those goals are fulfilled, we have to undertake a considerable amount of exercise, adhere to a strict dieting protocol, utilize nutrition supplementation when necessary and have patience with the process. Unfortunately, some of us aren’t all that great with the latter part of that plan and try to expedite the whole process by indulging in a practice that many have deemed as a necessary evil; cardio. While cardiovascular training certainly does contribute to achieving our overall goal of attaining a muscular and lean physique, there are still many questions left unanswered when it comes to how cardio should be performed and even more questions as to how much of it you should do. So if you’ve been going crazy trying to figure out the best method for you and have found yourself in a cardio craze, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when constructing your cardiovascular training routines.
There are lots of different ways to perform your cardio training and it’s not fair to say that one method is any better than the other simply because the response to cardiovascular work is unique to each of us. That said, there are some pretty good guidelines you can follow here with respect to when you perform your cardio that has proven to work for many. A personal favourite approach to cardio training, especially for fat loss, is fasted cardio whereby you would complete your session prior to consuming your first meal of the day. It seems to work very well for those who utilize this method and most will tell you it almost feels like a kick start to their day as well. The next most popular time to do your cardio training would be right after you’ve trained with weights. The idea here is that you’ve used up your glycogen to fuel your weight training session so the energy you burn after that will contribute more significantly to fat loss. Then finally, some are believers in the idea that as long as you are performing cardio training, it doesn’t matter when it’s done. Doing cardio for the purposes of fat loss is done to add to your daily caloric expenditure so that it’s more than the number of calories you’re consuming. So as long as you can achieve that, then doing cardio when you can is better than not doing it at all.
Now that we’ve established some timelines for your cardio and when you should insert it into your day, how you go about performing your cardio is next on the to-do list. There are lots of different ways to perform cardio much the same as there are lots of ways to lift weights. What you need to do is find what works best for you for right now and then line that up with what your goals are. If you’re looking for fat loss, then HIIT may be the way to go. With this method, your pace will change intermittently and you’ll be going hard for a bit and then backing off and then ramping up again and then back down all throughout the duration of your session. If you’re just looking for a slow burn and an increase in heart rate without doing anything too crazy, then a nice static pace will do the trick. If you’re into boosting performance, then you’ll be going hard for an extended period of time and if you’re simply looking to maintain health with a bit of a challenge, then you can pick one of the pre-programmed workouts that most cardio machines offer. Again, how you utilize cardio training really depends on your goals and how much of it you do in one session will be determined by where you’re at in your current progress. Start with a 20-minute session, three to four times per week and then increase either your time, your frequency or your method as you see fit.
Before you go ahead and make up your mind about your cardio endeavours, here are a few little tips to keep in mind prior to building your plan. First off, a little cardio can go a long way especially when you’re using it to change body composition. As impatient as some of us are which can lead us to overdo it too early, you have to take the approach that doing as little as possible while still seeing results is by far the best way to start. Eventually, you’re going to have to add more time to your cardio as you progress through your plan, so give yourself room to do that slowly but surely. If you start out doing an hour a day, do you really want to have to end up doing two hours or three hours of cardio a day to keep seeing progress? Secondly, find cardio exercises that you like. Don’t think you have to do the stepmill because everyone says it’s the be all end all. You won’t last and keep doing it if you don’t like it (to some extent). If walking or running or biking outside is your thing, do it. If grinding away on the treadmill is your thing, then do it. It’s all a matter of preference here. Finally, don’t think you can out-train a poor diet. If you think you can cheat on your diet and then just make up for it through extra cardio sessions, don’t. It won’t work out for you the way you think it will.
Hopefully, some of your cardio craze has been eliminated after reading this article and you now have a better perspective and outlook on the whole thing. It doesn’t have to be viewed as a necessary evil and in fact, it should be viewed as an activity that will just make everything else you want to do better; even your weight training. The better your cardiovascular endurance is the harder and longer you’ll be able to train for at the same heightened intensity. So make cardio training a part of your everyday routine, be happy and get excited about being able to fit it in during your day and use it to enhance your efforts in your health and bodybuilding pursuits because when you do, the only craziness that will be happening around you will be the reactions of others once they’ve seen what you’ve created.
Author: Dana Bushell
Gym Star Team Member