Make The Switch - Choose Intensity Over ''Cardio''

Most if not all of us exercise to either improve our overall
health, fitness levels or body composition – well, that is often the aim anyway
yet many will fail to hit their target goal. Why is this? Personally I believe
there are several reasons for this, but the single largest reason is that there
is a gross misconception that undermines the value of resistance training.
Before I sound like a defensive bodybuilder on a rant, I want to share with you
the ‘’facts’’ of exercise and why using resistance training FAR out performs
conventional ‘’cardio’’ exercise.

Before we get into this let’s clear up another issue which
the word ‘’cardio’’ stands for. If you ask a gym instructor they will point
towards the huge selection of aerobic machines, yet the word ‘’cardio’’ is used
to describe exercise which stimulates the cardiovascular system i.e. your heart
and lungs.

Are you really telling me a resistance workout does not
stimulate the cardiovascular system? If you are then try it, and if you have
and still don’t think it does then I invite you to come and train with me –
this will quickly change your mind I think. Once and for all, I really want to
debunk with BS attitude that resistance training doesn’t improve your
cardiovascular health, it DOES! People look at marathon runners who optimise
the ultimate ‘’aerobic athlete’’ and think HEALTH – as where I think ‘’amazing
levels of aerobic fitness’’ but this doesn’t always have a direct correlation
with optimum health.

Moving on, I want to talk about body composition and once
again my argument is going to come down on the side of resistance training –
sorry ‘’cardio’’ bunnies, I am going nuts today!! Before I sound like I am
complete and utter idiot who opposes fast walking, jogging, cross-trainer work
and the likes of let me explain myself. All of my clients DO prolonged
‘’cardio’’ (there that word is again) but they also do A LOT of resistance
training and HIIT workouts. Instead of conventional ‘’cardio’’ exercise being
the staple, it is merely an extra and that is it – if they only have time for
one OR the other I ALWAYS instruct them to do high intensity resistance
training instead and high intensity interval training such as sprints.

Why?

Glad you asked.

Simply put, when you use resistance training properly it
burns a huge amount of calories and it is so adaptable – in other words you can
make weight training as HARD as you want it to be. Not only this, but for up to
36 hours POST-training your basal metabolic rate is dramatically increased
after an intense training session like this. Here are some basic criteria I
like to put my clients through when fat loss is the priority –

-
60 second rest periods

-
Slow eccentric contractions, fast concentric
contractions

-
Giant sets

-
Compound exercises

-
Varying repetition range

-
Emphasis on PURE intensity, you have GOT TO EARN
your dream body

Moving on, when it comes to non-resistance training I prefer
my clients to do a mixture of fast walking and sprint sessions. The reason
being that I believe a variation is the key to accelerating fat loss, and
extensive research shows that HIIT workouts are very effective for fat loss.

Both resistance training and HIIT ‘’cardio’’ workouts have
something very similar in common – they stimulate a hormonal reaction which is
favourable to those of you who want to burn body fat because your growth
hormone levels increase, as does your testosterone levels. With decreasing body
fat levels your estrogen levels will also drop, which compounds your fat loss
results.

Here is the main criteria clients will follow in relation to
their ‘’cardio’’ plan –

-
Predominately low impact cardio for the first
4-6 weeks

-
For the last 6-8 weeks a blend of low impact and
HIIT

-
Maximum of 4 HIIT workouts a week depending on
training volume and goals

The key point to take away here is that hitting the
treadmill or spinning bike for hours on end doesn’t make you a healthier person
than somebody who uses weights, nor does it mean you will enjoy better body
composition results. This is not meant to undermine people who choose to do
hours of cardio, it is simply pointing out what I believe to be the facts.

Checkout the below photo, this guy’s trainers didn’t lick a
treadmill once during the 12 weeks working with me – yet he did LOTS of intense
resistance sessions and sprinting in the great outdoors.

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