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Cardio vs Weights – trainer says “cut back on cardio”

Question:

Hi, I’m currently 5′ 9″ 150 pounds and 40% body fat (measured by dexa) – female.

I’m down 55 pounds (I was 205), eating well, doing weight training 2 times a week, pilates 1 time a week and cardio about 5 times a week.

I’m loving my results and feel really good.  My trainer thinks I should cut back on cardio,because the 2 days I train with her I do 1 hour easy cardio before and after our workouts. I find the cardio easy and enjoyable, and I’m getting results.

walking for fat loss

Can you do too much of this?!

It’s easier for me to get the cardio done the days I weight train.  I understand there are benefits to shorter, more intense cardio.  Why should i change what I’m doing?  I’m getting results, I’m getting stronger.  I figure I’ll change things up when I stop getting results.

What do you think?  ~  Jenn

Answer:

I’m reminded of the old saying, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Too often we humans ask the wrong questions.  For example, “what’s the best way to lose fat as quickly as possible?” is the wrong question to ask.  The reason it’s a bad question is because over 99% of people simply could not or would not actually do what it takes to lose fat as quickly as possible.

Your question, Jenn, is a very good one…and it’s the kind of question people should be asking.  It’s a good question because it takes into account what one enjoys doing and is willing to do.  It’s also good because it acknowledges that while a method may not be the single most efficient way, it obviously has merit if it is producing results.

Now let me tell ya what I think… ;) [Read more...]

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Ep62: Uphill Walking…what type of Cardio is it?

 

Episode 62: What type of Cardio is Walking Uphill?

Walking at a moderate speed on level ground is Steady State Cardio (SSC).  More specifically, it’s Low Intensity, Steady State Cardio.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is obviously high intensity in nature, so high that it must be done in an on/off fashion (hence the term interval).

But what about cardio that’s really hard – certainly NOT low intensity – but that you can maintain for a while (thus not interval in nature)… like Walking up a STEEP Hill; what type of cardio is that?!

In this episode of the Dr Clay Show, I’m going to take you on an uphill walk with me as I explain what type of cardio uphill walking is.

 

Notes

  • Low-Intensity Cardio is Aerobic in nature (meaning it uses oxygen)
  • High-Intensity Cardio is Anaerobic (does not use oxygen)

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

 

Related Posts

Don't do too much!

 

While we’re talking cardio, check out How Much Cardio is Too Much Cardio?

 

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Great New Cardio Article by Dr Lonnie Lowery

I love Dr Lonnie Lowery!  Wait, that sounds odd…I mean I love his no-nonsense approach to nutrition.  Plus the man practices what he preaches….he ain’t just a lab nerd, that’s for sure!  And that’s the kind of guy I will listen to – one who knows the science and who also has real-world experience to go with it.

Dr Lowery’s latest article – The Ultimate Cardio Solution: Disclosed – was recently published at T-Nation.

Not your average nerdy Doc

Not your average nerdy Doc

If you’ve ever wondered how a nutrition Ph.D./bodybuilder does cardio to get ready for a bodybuilding contest, you gotta read his article.

Funny thing is, this portion (at least) of Dr Lowery’s approach is essentially just like mine.  Did he copy me or did I copy him? Neither, silly – we independently derived similar methods because they are scientifically sound and hold up in the real world.

I’m telling you, all this nutrition and training stuff is actually really simple! You just have to listen to people who will shoot you straight and tell you the truth! And avoid those trying to sell you something by telling you what you wanna hear (i.e. Lose 20 pounds in 7 days without breaking a sweat!”)

That’s it for now.  Go check out Dr LL’s article.

Your friend in fitness,

Dr Clay

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How Much Cardio is Too Much Cardio?

How much is too much?

How much is too much?

We all know that cardiovascular exercise (or simply cardio) burns fat.  Sure, some types and methods of doing cardio burn more fat than others, but it’s pretty safe to say cardio burns fat.

Although not quite as unanimous or commonly known, cardio can burn muscle.  But the key word in that statement is CAN.  The fact is, burning muscle by doing too much cardio is not a real concern for most people, but let’s take a closer look.

We Want It to be True

It’s been well documented by a number of studies that we humans are inherently biased people, whether we like it or not – and even if we realize it or not.  We look for evidence to support what we think is true and what we want to be true.  For example, if you think Lexus is the best car made, then you are going to tend to pay attention to evidence that supports your notion that Lexus is the best car.  Yet you’ll tend to discount or even ignore evidence that points to the fact that another brand of car is superior.

Regarding cardio – most people hate doing cardio, and for the most part I do to.  Therefore you and I are susceptible to biases against cardio and would tend to disregard evidence that points to the fact that cardio is great.  Because if we agree that cardio is indeed good, then that means we should be doing it.

Sure enough, as soon as we read an article or forum post by some internet expert about how cardio burns muscle, we suddenly pay attention and say to ourselves “Yeah, cardio burns muscle, and I don’t want to burn any muscle, so therefore I shouldn’t do cardio.”

Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bath Water

As with most prevalent myths or misconceptions, there is a smidgen of truth to the ‘cardio burns muscle’ statement.  Here’s the accurate statement: Too much of the wrong type of cardio, especially when combined with improper nutrition practices, can promote the burning of muscle for fuel. But the question remains…how much is too much?  (We’ll revisit the proper nutrition practices and type of cardio component on another day.)

Too much cardio is simply an amount that compromises recovery, such that significant amounts of muscle are burned to meet the demands.  I

They didn't get this way doing too much cardio!

They didn't get this way doing too much cardio!

say ‘significant’ because the fact is, all exercise burns a little muscle…even resistance training itself which is used to build muscle!

These dang bodies of ours are pretty freakin’ smart and can amazingly adapt to just about anything we throw at them – especially when it comes to exercise.  That’s why even though exercise may technically ‘burn a little muscle,’ we don’t wither away to a pile of epithelial cells and osteocytes.  In fact, we practically always rebound from the exercise becoming improved – meaning stronger and with more endurance.

So just because an internet ‘expert’ or a paragraph in a textbook talks about BCAA’s from muscle being used for fuel during intense exercise, does NOT mean you’re going to burn all your muscle by doing cardio!  It’s simply not the case!

No matter how bad you hate doing cardio, it’s NOT evil, my friend.  In fact, it’s one of the most incredible weapons in your fat-burning arsenal!

My Real-World Cardio Experience

Over the course of the 18 years I’ve been competing in bodybuilding shows and preparing for photo shoots, I’ve tried it all!  I’ve gotten contest ready by doing no cardio, some cardio, and LOTS of cardio!  Here’s how I would briefly summarize what I found regarding cardio:

1) Doing no cardio forces you to have to consume a  severely inadequate number of calories, which dramatically compromises recovery!

2) Doing moderate amounts of cardio enables you to still eat plenty of nutrient-containing calories and recover well, while still keeping your muscle (assuming, again, that your diet is proper).

3) Doing lots of cardio (I’ve done up to 2 hours per day, every single day) enables you to get lean very quickly and still eat copious amounts of food.  However, after about 4-6 weeks of doing this much cardio along with almost daily weight-training, you tend to start to feel a bit run down and overtrained.  You also tend to ‘thin out’ a bit doing so much cardio, but you can also tell and feel that you’re in GREAT cardiovascular shape!  And, a bit surprisingly, I found that doing no cardio was worse in terms of ‘keeping muscle’ than doing lots of cardio!  I suspect that’s because of the lack of nutrients that accompanies the severely calorie-restricted diet that has to accompany a no-cardio approach to getting lean.

Don’t Be Scared

In closing, I want to encourage you to not reject cardio simply because someone told you to.  Try doing significant amounts of cardio and simply see how you look and feel after a few weeks.  No doubt it’s going to do your body (esp heart) good, but I think you’ll also be surprised at how you’ll feel about cardio once you’ve given it a fair chance.  Just don’t fail to give it a shot simply because, deep down, we ALL want cardio to be evil…therefore we don’t have to feel bad for not doing it!

Yours in health,

Dr Clay

PS Check out the new Physique Coaching program.  Not only would you get a complete nutrition, training, and cardio routine that takes the mystery out of exactly what you should be doing, but you will also learn all about how to properly access your progress and manipulate your cardio, diet, and training to achieve your best physique possible.

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Does Cardio Shorten Recovery Time?

Question:

After a heavy lifting workout, does a cardio session the next day shorten the recovery period?  I may have noticed it during football, but not sure if it was legit or not.

As a side note, I don’t think cardio can enhance recovery by simply removing lactic acid.  So if that has been the whole reason to encourage aerobic exercise post workout, it seems faulty to me.  Adam H.

Answer:

We now know that lactic acid is disapated very quickly – it does not linger for days as previously thought.  New research even points to the fact that it may not even be responsible for fatigue – or at least not the primary cause of fatigue.

I know of no studies done on the subject at hand – cardio to promote recovery.  However, here’s my opinion based on stuff we do know:

Too much cardio can compromise recovery.

Too much cardio can compromise recovery.

Low-intensity cardio (walking) promotes recovery if not done in excess. In other words, if the cardio is not too tough or too long, then the increase in blood flow may (and seems to) promote recovery – active recovery if you will.

But, cardio that it really intense (ie high-intensity interval training – HIIT) will likely compromise recovery, because it’s taxing on the CNS (central nervous system).  Without CNS recovery, you have no recovery.

Likewise, if the cardio is too long in duration it will compromise recovery, because it is depleting/using nutrients (ie muscle glycogen) that could otherwise go toward promoting recovery.

I hope that helps, Adam!

Dr Clay