Cardio –the biggest area of confusion amongst gym goers.
At IRON it doesn’t matter if we are working with the most seasoned athlete, or someone new to the gym, all clients ask about cardio at some point. Every member of the training staff will tell you it just never fails to come up and it often sounds like …
“How much cardio should I be doing?”
“What’s the best type for me to reach my goals?”
“Is one type of cardio better than another?”
“Do I do it before or after I weight train?”
“I want to lose weight, should my routine include more treadmill or more weights?”
“If I have time for only a short workout, should it be cardio?”
“I am up to two hours of cardio a day, but nothing is changing, what gives?”
“I hate cardio, what is the least amount of cardio I can do and keep the weight off?”
Why the cardio confusion?
At IRON we believe it’s less about “cardio confusion” and more about “cardio misuse”.
Misuse you ask?
Let’s take a step back and look at the definition of cardio:
“Cardio” is short for cardiovascular, which refers to the lungs, heart and their associated systems.
When most members inquire about cardio they are referring to long steady-state sessions on a machine such as an elliptical, stair stepper, or stationary bike or “going out for a run” to get their heart rate up.
Those activities are indeed cardio but they aren’t getting most gym goers closer to the goal of fat loss they set out to obtain. Despite what many of us learned in the leotard clad days of the 80’s low intensity aerobic exercise is not necessarily the best option for fat loss, body re-composition or athletic performance. In fact there are many cardio myths and old wive’s tales waiting to be dispelled.
How does one use cardiovascular training for good?
1. Know the Role of Cardio
Understand the role of cardio and how it fits in properly with your personal goals and lifestyle. If you are looking for activity recovery, a slow jog outside may be just the thing. If you are short on time and looking to burn fat you may be better served by performing HIIT (high intensity interval training).
2. Stop Misuse
Since most gym-goers are unaware of how cardiovascular training fits most optimally into their goals or training the first step is to take a step back and re-assess. Start by asking yourself why you are performing this type of training in your current routine. Is it habit? Something you have been doing for years? Are you getting results? When is the last time you had your routine evaluated by a coach or fitness professional that is skilled in program design?
3. Avoid Abuse
Even when a gym goer knows the proper role of cardio, to develop the cardiovascular system, it can become easily abused. We strive to “get our cardio in” and fall into more is better the running on the hamster wheel affect.
If you believe cardio is the magic bullet to out-train poor eating habits – for example, you overdid it on the office birthday cake and increase your elliptical session from 20 mins to an hour you may be teetering into the abuse category.
Let’s be fair, there is nothing wrong with “hard work” but at IRON we believe there is more to getting in shape than massive amounts of cardio. Think of it this way – you can till your garden with a fork but it’s much more effective and efficient to use proper tools like a shovel and rake. Unnecessary labor for the sake of labor doesn’t really make sense and think about how silly it would sound to brag about tilling your garden with a fork. The same goes for marathon sessions on the treadmill.
What is enough?
The reality is just like other forms of exercise no two individuals respond to cardiovascular training in exactly the same way. So it’s incredibly difficult to dictate “enough” at a mass level. At IRON we employ the FITTE principle – Frequency, Intensity, Type, Time and Enjoyment. These elements along with a personal understanding of your training history and lifestyle help us determine the right place to start. We craft a personal “exercise prescription” for each member/client based on individual goals and lifestyle.
The key to success is often individualization. Don’t sacrifice your health in the quest for fitness. Find your training sweet spot. Join us at IRON, we’d love to meet you.
Schedule a FREE IRON Strategy Session and get started training today!