Beginners are at a crucial juncture: they’ve made the decision to get into shape and realize they have a myriad of options in front of them. Make the wrong decision, and you’ll potentially derail your progress for months (or sometimes even years).
Learn from someone with experience with fat loss and stay away from long duration, steady state cardio. Here are some key issues I have with long duration, steady state cardio:
- It’s boring. If your training program is boring, it’s going to be tough for you to follow the program. Try and find something exciting. Something that you will look forward to doing each week.
- Jogging hurts. Jogging was my form of outdoor cardio. I used to jog for 3-4 miles at least 4 days per week. Of course it worked, but I soon found myself in pain.
- The pain could have also be caused by overuse injuries, which comes from too much repetition of the same activity. Professional runner andcyclers often complain about knee problems later in life.
- The pain started with my shins and traveled to my knees. The uneven outdoor surface, and the constant pounding on the knees does a lot of damage to your joints.
- The bigger you are, the more you should stay away from jogging long distance. One or two miles is fine at a frequency of 2-3 days per week.
- Higher intensity distance cardio causes losses in strength, power, and muscle mass. You may not care about strength or power, but you should care about muscle mass.
- Muscle mass will be your long-term fight against fat. This is because muscle is more metabolically active than fat. It takes more calories to maintain a pound of muscle than a pound of fat.
- Hence, the more muscle you have on your body, the higher your metabolic rate. A fast metabolism will help you burn more calories throughout the day without performing more exercise or eating less.
- Aerobic exercise is an impractical method of burning lots of calories. The bigger you are, the more fat you will burn with aerobic exercise. But, as you get leaner and fitter, you will need to perform more aerobic exercise in order to burn the same amount of fat.
- For example, if in the beginning you were able to burn 100 calories in 20 minutes, 6 months from now it may take you up to an hour to burn the same amount of calories.
- Of course, this is just an example, but that is what happens. Your body becomes efficient at using energy to perform a task. Hence, it takes more work to burn more calories.
Now that you know why I don’t like long distance cardio, lets look at some of the forms of cardio that I do like:
Bodyweight cardio is simply performing high intensity bodyweight exercises that are relatively easy in a cardio format. Cardio is basically raising your heart rate and increasing the demand for energy (calories).
The greater your demand for energy, the more calories and fat you will burn. Bodyweight cardio is often more fun than regular, steady state cardio. Plus, you can perform it anywhere and anytime you want.
You can perform bodyweight cardio in your hotel room, at the park, in your backyard, or your friends house. Hence, it is one of best, no-nonsense and no-excuses method to burn fat.
Hard cardio consists of any sort of higher intensity, moderate duration cardio. My favorite forms are sledgehammer swings, jump roping, and shadowboxing. This form of cardio is not only exciting and gets your heart rate up, but also prevents overuse injuries.
You can choose 2-3 forms of hard cardio, or even combine hard cardio with bodyweight cardio. This way, you prevent boredom and conserve your joints. Hard cardio helps develop power and speed.
For example, sledgehammer swings are used by many athletes to improve explosive power. Jump roping is also used by boxers to improveagility. Hence, you’ll be improving your athletic abilities while burning fat.
Interval training is where you perform an activity for a high intensity level, then take a short rest. Alternate between high intensity and lower intensity training. You can do this form of training with hard cardio or bodyweight exercises.
As mentioned earlier, distance cardio is an impractical form of burning fat as your body becomes more efficient at burning calories. They key to solving this is to use increase the intensity level.
Interval cardio is one way to increase the level of intensity. Sprinters perform this kind of cardio all the time. They sprint on the track, and follow up with a period of rest to return their heart rate to normal.
Kettlebells are a training implement that have seen a resurgence in popularity. They’ve been around for many years, but it’s just recently that they’re starting to show up with commercial gyms.
Their effectiveness comes from the unique shape of the Kettlebell. A Kettlebell has a thick handle attached to a cannonball shaped weight. Hence, every single movement you perform engages a large amount of muscle in order to properly perform the movement.
If you have never heard of Kettlebells, it’s certainly something to look into. Kettlebell cardio workouts can be performed with either circuits or interval training. But make sure you start off light.
If you don’t have access to Kettlebells, then you can try Dumbbell cardio. Dumbbell cardio simply allows you to combine cardio and weight training into one. After Kettlebell workouts, Dumbbell cardio workouts are the most challenging forms of training.
Adding resistance to your cardio workouts allows you to train your strength endurance as well as your cardio endurance. Sports such as martial arts, where you are constantly moving around (cardio) and fighting off an opponent (resistance), need a combination of resistance and cardio endurance training.
But, for the regular folks, combining strength and cardio workouts can help you get leaner while maintaining and even increasing your lean muscle mass and strength.