Most people do cardio aerobic training for 3 reasons:
– To Improve Heart Health
– Because It Feels Good
– Because It’s THE Default Method of Training
I think 1 out of the 2 reasons are legitimate reasons to put cardio-conditioning into your programs.
The other 2, well not so much. Although we really can’t blame you for wanting to do things that make you feel good.
But there is probably some confusion as to what traditional cardio-conditioning actually does to your physique. I would caution to say that not everything that “feels good” is something that is going to get you in better shape physically.
Assuming you’re like most people, I’m going to guess that you want all of your hard work and effort to go towards having a more toned and lean physique.
Toned meaning having a more shapely and firm muscular structure.
And lean meaning having as little body fat as possible.
Here is something for you to think about:
Muscle = Metabolism
The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you are going to burn. This is during your workouts, after your workouts, while you’re at work, while you’re at home on the couch, doing homework, running errands…….
Muscle creates shape, firmness, and leans you out. So your #1 goal in a fat loss program is to do stuff to add muscle. This is so you can rev up your metabolism.
Unfortunately long-duration, traditional steady state cardio (think jogging, treadmill, elliptical) is going to do the exact opposite to your muscle. It would strip your body of it’s muscle if it could.
SAID Principle or Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands, states that the human body will adapt efficiently to the stress that you place on the human system.
This is a really fancy way of saying that doing a lot of jogging will take away muscle tone. It does this because muscle is very energy expensive. In their words, muscle burns up a heck of a lot of calories. Hence why we relate it directly to your metabolism.
Basically if muscle was a car it would be an SUV burning up a lot of gas quickly. But this is what you want because you want to get rid of body fat right??
This is why a lot of slow-duration, long-distance cardio tends to strip you of your muscle tissue. In order to get efficient at moving slowly for a long period of time, your body needs to lose some of the excess stuff slowing it down and using up all of it’s energy it needs to adapt to the cardio-aerobic stimulus you continually give to it.
It’s SAID principle!
Even better, it’s SCIENCE!!
So if you want to be more LEAN and MEAN, you want to focus more on strength training, which is muscle building and HIIT Training (our preferred method of cardio) which is also muscle building.
You can think of this simple equation:
Cardio Aerobics = Muscle Wasting
HIIT Training = Muscle Building
HIIT Training or High Intensity Interval Training, is the perfect recipe for getting your cardio in but sparing your muscle tissue at the tame time. As a matter of fact, you’re building muscle while you HIIT train.
The intensity of the exercise helps you to build and develop muscle as well as increase your VO2 Max (ability to maximize oxygen consumption).
A well timed work to rest ratio in a HIIT session will give you that excellent feeling you get from cardio as well as help you develop that muscle tone you have been looking for.
You can think of HIIT training as “Sprint Training” or running as fast as you can for short periods of time. It takes an incredible amount of strength and power to produce speed and intensity in that manner. This calls into play a lot of muscle fiber and really taxes the system to the point where the adaptation that has to occur is muscular and aerobic.
The good news is, there are a lot of different ways to sprint! Probably many that you have not thought of. Anything performed at a maximum intensity for short bursts can be considered a sprint. Do this with pre-determined rest periods so you can repeat over and over and you have the makings of a muscle building cardio session.
Here is a video of some of our HIIT Sessions at Max Impact:
I’d like to point out that I am not saying NEVER DO cardio or aerobic training. In fact there are many benefits to aerobic training like helping you build an aerobic base and recovery…..
But for you guys out there who are really focused on getting a muscular and toned physique minus the body fat, you should really spend a little time doing aerobics and a lot of time doing strength training and HIIT training.
The more of a beginner you are the more aerobics you need. The more advanced you become the less aerobics should be in your program. Unless of course you are training for aerobic events like Marathons and other lengthy races.
If you want a lean muscular physique, put your money on strength and HIIT training.
Then let your body do the talking!!