Anyone who’s been in this game long enough will tell you that the hierarchy of body transformation goes like this:

Nutrition is king.

Weight training is second.

Cardio is a far distant third.

In my program you will not find long-duration cardio.  It’s unnecessary and quite frankly a waste of time if you want real results.

It’s no surprise that most people quit their ‘lifestyle change’ after a couple of months of going to the gym and seeing no results.  Whenever I’ve asked these people, ‘What did you do during those two months?’, the answer is always ‘An hour of cardio every day.’  and usually they do this 4-6 times per week.  The mentality generally is: I’ll lose some weight first, then start weight training.  Well, therein lies the problem.

Cardio should NOT be the go to form of exercise for fat loss, it should be used as a supplement.  

That being said, there are benefits to cardio, and you should do it –  the right way!  In this section, we’ll go through why you need it, the differences in types of cardio, and when to do it.

WHAT IS CARDIO?

“Cardio” is any aerobic activity that strengthens and improves the cardiovascular system in order to manage and deliver oxygen throughout the body more efficiently.

Your body needs oxygen in order to metabolize (break down) fat to be able to use it as an energy source. You need to do some form of cardio in order to lose fat from the body.

BENEFITS OF CARDIO

  • reduce anxiety, depression, fatigue more so than weight lifting (better endorphin release)

  • stronger heart & lungs

  • better circulation

  • better sleep

  • it’s super basic – you don’t need anything to do it and you can do it anywhere (eg. running, walking, jumping jacks)

  • you need to do it to help reveal muscle tone – weight lifting alone won’t accomplish this

Two main types:

STEADY STATE vs. HIIT

STEADY STATE

Steady state cardio is any aerobic activity that’s repetitive and prolonged in nature.  Aerobic activity primarily uses fat stores for energy.  Think in terms of doing 30-60 minutes of any of the following:

  • swimming
  • biking
  • elliptical
  • rollerblading
  • rowing
  • dancing
  • kick-boxing

There are many variations of steady state cardio-

Low intensity – long duration

Medium intensity – medium duration

High intensity – short duration

Etc.

SHOULD YOU DO IT?

This form of cardio is good for endurance training, can be fun and certainly still has some health benefits.  However, for the purposes of fat loss, I advise against it being the main source of exercise for several reasons:

  • The Law of Diminishing Return: the amount of energy you put into something, over time returns less and less results.  This is especially true with cardio, because the body is very efficient at adapting to cardiovascular stimuli.  A 30 minute bike ride may be difficult on the first day, but after 30 days of doing the same bike ride you will breeze through it with no problem.  This is because the body adapts – it becomes better at using less energy (less calories) for the same exercise.
  • During cardio, you predominantly use fat stores for energy.  Now, while this may seem ideal, there’s a catch.  Because your body is now training to use fat as a fuel, it also adapts by up-regulating the enzymes that store body fat.
  • You only burn calories during the exercise, once you stop the activity so do the fat burning effects.
  • In order for cardio to be effective for cardiovascular improvement, you need intensity.  Biking for 30 minutes, at a heart rate of 120 beats per minute will not improve your cardiovascular health.  You need to be at least in the 70-80% heart rate zone to improve cardiovascular health.

The more and the longer the cardio session, the less effective it becomes for fat loss.

Incorporating this type of cardio in addition to what is in this program may be of benefit, but do it sparingly – no more than 2-3 times per week.

HIIT

HIIT (high intensity interval training) is anaerobic activity – meaning it uses primarily muscle carbohydrate stores for fuel (glycogen) instead of fat for fuel.  It is intense bursts of high intensity exercise followed by short rest periods repeated several times for a short duration.  Usually 10-15 minutes, and no longer than 20 minutes. Examples of HIIT cardio include any form of exercise that you do in brief speed followed by rest.

Example: 50 seconds of jump rope at maximum effort followed by 10 seconds of rest

If you did this for 10-15 minutes you would have just done a HIIT cardio session.

This program is designed using HIIT for cardio.

WHY IT’S MORE EFFECTIVE

  • Burns more calories per session in a shorter amount of time.
  • HIIT uses predominantly glucose/glycogen as energy source. As a result, the body adapts by up-regulating the enzymes that store muscle glycogen.
  • Improves Metabolic Flexibility.
  • HIIT stimulates production of your human growth hormone (HGH) by up to 450 percent during 24 hours post-workout.  HGH is responsible for both increased caloric burn and slowing down the aging process – making you younger both inside and out!
  • You get fat burn and cardiovascular benefits from it.
  • You don’t need any equipment and it can be done anywhere.

CARDIO TIMING

The best time to do cardio is after a weight training session for two reasons:

1. You need energy to train hard and to do it well. You need to focus on form and technique during weight lifting. If you’re already tired from doing cardio, you run the risk of compromising your form and technique. You also won’t be able to lift as heavy as you could for the same reason.

2. Muscle glycogen is the first form of energy the body uses for fuel, followed by fat stores. During weight lifting, you burn through glycogen stores first; once they are depleted you start burning fat. This is ideal, because once you start doing cardio, you’re source of energy while you are doing cardio is fat. If you were to do cardio before the weight lifting session, you would be depleting the glycogen stores in your muscles, and when the time comes for weight training you’d start to use fat as a fuel source. The problem is, is fat is not an efficient fuel for weight training. You will not be as effective during your workout, in terms of endurance or strength. This is why, it is ideal to always do cardio after weight training.

This principle applies to cardio whether you are doing steady state or HIIT cardio. It is best to always do cardio after weight training.

“Either you run the day or the day runs you.”

-Jim Rohn

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