Posts Tagged ‘Cardio’

What Is Cardio?

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

What the heck IS CARDIO anyway? Turns out there’s lots of ways to do it.

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MIKE GEARY ASKS – IS “CARDIO” REALLY NECESSARY?

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Mike Geary writes a lot of really great and helpful articles as well as having written the awesome book The Truth About Six Pack Abs. I’m going to reprint a few of them for you in a few posts here on the blog.

In this article Mike Geary talks about really what IS “Cardio” in the first place?  Then he offers alternatives to traditional cardio.  Personally I really enjoy cardio workouts, but he really changed things up for me with this article, as well as the awesome stuff in his book… LOTS of fun tricks and cardio alternatives are hidden there.  You really must check it out soon if you haven’t already.


Do You Really Need “Cardio” Workouts?

Are cardio workouts or weight training more effective for losing fat…

by Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer

In this article, I have an intriguing discussion about cardio workouts, which will hopefully get you thinking differently, and trying new things.

You may know I’ve been called the anti-cardio guy before, but this week I’m back posing the question to you… Do you really need cardio training to get lean and in great shape? By the way, you’ll see in a minute that I’m not really “anti-cardio”, just “anti traditional cardio”.

Most fitness buffs, weekend warriors, or anyone trying to get in shape or lose body fat, consider it a fact that they need “cardio” exercise to accomplish these goals. They would never even question it.

However, I’m not only questioning it, I’m going to refute it! In fact, you may be surprised to know that some of the leanest and meanest people I know (men and women), NEVER do any type of normal or traditional cardio. And I’ve spent over 15 years working out in various gyms, and hanging out with athletes of all sorts, so I’ve seen it all.

I will say that there can be a place for low-moderate level cardio for really overweight or deconditioned people, but even in those cases, there can be more effective methods.

But what exactly is “cardio”?

Most people would consider cardio to be pumping away mindlessly on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike, or coasting on an elliptical machine, while watching the TV screen at their state of the art gym. This is what I call “traditional cardio”. Hmmm, no wonder the majority of people get bored with their workouts and give up after a couple months without seeing results.

But if you look closer, “cardio” exercise can be considered any type of exercise or activity that strengthens the cardiovascular system. I’m not going to get into anything technical like increasing your VO2 max or anything like that. To keep it simple, if it gets your heart pumpin, and gets you huffin and puffin, it’s cardio. I don’t care if you’re holding dumbbells or a barbell and everyone calls it a weight training exercise…it’s still conditioning your heart.

Let’s take a look at a couple examples. Take a barbell (or dumbbell, or kettlebell) clean & press for example, which involves lifting a barbell from the floor up to shoulders, then push pressing overhead. And listen up ladies, because even though this is usually seen as a manly exercise, it doesn’t matter if you’re not lifting 250 lbs; if 45 lbs is challenging to you, then you will still benefit just as much.

At first glance, most people think of the barbell C&P only as a weight training exercise or strength exercise. However, I challenge you to do a hard set of around 10-15 reps on the C&P. If you used a challenging enough weight, what you’ll find is that your heart rate is probably up to about 80-90% of your recommended max, and you are huffing and puffing like you just ran a 100-meter sprint (which by the way, sprinting kicks the crap out of jogging any day if you want the easiest way to lose the flab).

Try the same thing for a set of 20 reps of one-arm snatches or swings with each arm with a kettlebell or dumbbell, and tell me your legs aren’t burning, heart racing, and you’re gasping for breath. How about trying 5 minutes straight of bodyweight squats, lunges, and pushups with very little rest. Again, notice your heart pounding, sweat pouring off of you, and chest heaving for breaths!

Try and tell me you’re not conditioning your heart with this style of training! Conventional thinking says that these are weight training or strength training exercises. However, they are fullfilling your cardio workout needs as well (saving you time!).

Not only do you save time, but you strengthen and condition almost every muscle in your entire body with these full body exercises if you do them with enough intensity…something that can’t be said for that boring stationary bike ride or treadmill jaunt while reading or watching TV.

Reading or watching TV while you workout is a joke!

Seriously, if you can read or watch TV while doing any exercise, you’re not concentrating enough on what you’re doing, plus you’re probably not working out hard enough to see any real results.

I challenge you to give the “traditional cardio” a rest for a month or two, and start training the way I explain in my internationally-selling Truth About Six Pack Abs Program, and see how you start getting leaner, more defined, and your six pack starting to show through what used to be stubborn stomach fat deposits.


I have also written a review for Truth About Abs (just because I think it’s an awesome book), and I have a special bonus offer going out to anyone who purchases the book there. If you are interested in the offer, definitely check me out here Truth About Abs Truth.



MIKE GEARY – CARDIO VARIABILITY

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

Mike Geary writes a lot of really great and helpful articles as well as having written the awesome book The Truth About Six Pack Abs. I’m going to reprint a few of them for you in a few posts here on the blog.

I used to make a lot of mistakes with my cardio training, and wondered a lot why I would get stuck on these plateaus no matter how long or how often I ran. However, once I read Mike’s book, I was enlightened. Now I mix it up… BIG TIME… as a matter of fact, in any given week I don’t do the same KIND of cardio twice. This guy really rocks for great ways to stay off plateaus, and here’s his take on cardio and variability

The Importance of Physical Variability in Cardio Exercise

Your Cardio Workouts may not be helping you unless you incorporate a high range of heart rate shifts in your training

By Mike Geary – Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Nutrition Specialist

Are you a cardio junkie? Everyone seems to think that “cardio” is the best way to get in shape and lose body fat.  I’m going to show you with this article why I disagree!

It is quite common to hear fitness pros, doctors, and other health professionals prescribe low to moderate intensity aerobic training (cardio) to people who are trying to prevent heart disease or lose weight. Most often, the recommendations go something like this:

“Perform 30-60 minutes of steady pace cardio 3-5 times/week maintaining your heart rate at a moderate level”

Before you just give in to this popular belief and become the “hamster on the wheel” doing endless hours of boring cardio exercise, I’d like you to consider some recent scientific research that indicates that steady pace endurance cardio work may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

First, realize that our bodies are designed to perform physical activity in bursts of exertion followed by recovery, or stop-and-go movement instead of steady state movement. Recent research is suggesting that physical variability is one of the most important aspects to consider in your training.

This tendency can be seen throughout nature as most animals demonstrate stop-and-go motion instead of steady state motion. In fact, humans are the only creatures in nature that attempt to do “endurance” type physical activities. Most competitive sports (with the exception of endurance running or cycling) are also based on stop-and-go movement or short bursts of exertion followed by recovery.

To examine an example of the different effects of endurance or steady state training versus stop-and-go training, consider the physiques of marathoners versus sprinters. Most sprinters carry a physique that is very lean, muscular, and powerful looking, while the typical dedicated marathoner is more often emaciated and sickly looking. Now which would you rather resemble?

Another factor to keep in mind regarding the benefits of physical variability is the internal effect of various forms of exercise on our body. Scientists have known that excessive steady state endurance exercise (different for everyone, but sometimes defined as greater than 60 minutes per session most days of the week) increases free radical production in the body, can degenerate joints, reduces immune function, causes muscle wasting, and can cause a pro-inflammatory response in the body that can potentially lead to chronic diseases.

Highly variable cyclic training

On the other hand, highly variable cyclic training has been linked to increased anti-oxidant production in the body and an anti-inflammatory response, a more efficient nitric oxide response (which can encourage a healthy cardiovascular system), and an increased metabolic rate response (which can assist with weight loss). Furthermore, steady state endurance training only trains the heart at one specific heart rate range and doesn’t train it to respond to various every day stressors.

On the other hand, highly variable cyclic training teaches the heart to respond to and recover from a variety of demands making it less likely to fail when you need it.  Think about it this way… Exercise that trains your heart to rapidly increase and rapidly decrease will make your heart more capable of handling everyday stress. Stress can cause your blood pressure and heart rate to increase rapidly. Steady state jogging and other endurance training does not train your heart to be able to handle rapid changes in heart rate or blood pressure.

The important aspect of variable cyclic training that makes it superior over steady state cardio exercise is the recovery period in between bursts of exertion. That recovery period is crucially important for the body to elicit a healthy response to an exercise stimulus. Another benefit of variable cyclic training is that it is much more interesting and has lower drop-out rates than long boring steady state cardio programs.

To summarize, some of the potential benefits of variable cyclic training compared to steady state endurance training are as follows: improved cardiovascular health, increased anti-oxidant protection, improved immune function, reduced risk for joint wear and tear, increased muscularity (versus decreased muscularity with endurance training), increased residual metabolic rate following exercise, and an increased capacity for the heart to handle life’s every day stressors.

Sports Workouts and Sprinting

There are many ways you can reap the benefits of stop-and-go or variable intensity physical training. Most competitive sports such as football, basketball, volleyball, racquetball, tennis, hockey, etc. are naturally comprised of highly variable stop-and-go motion which trains the heart through a higher range than just steady walking or jogging.

Doing swimming workouts in a variable intensity fashion may also be more beneficial than just swimming for a long duration at the same speed.  Same goes for bicycling — that is why mountain biking, which involves extreme ups and downs at various intensity levels may also be more beneficial than just a long flat steady pace bike ride.

One of the absolute most effective forms of variable intensity training to really reduce body fat and bring out serious muscular definition is performing wind sprints.  Wind sprints can be done by sprinting at near max speed for 10-30 seconds, and then taking 60 seconds to walk for recovery before your next sprint. 6-12 total sprint intervals is usually a very challenging workout for most people.

In addition, weight training naturally incorporates short bursts of exertion followed by recovery periods. High intensity interval training (varying between high and low intensity intervals on any piece of cardio equipment) is yet another training method that utilizes exertion and recovery periods. For example, an interval training session on the treadmill could look something like this:

Warm-up for 3-4 minutes at a fast walk or light jog

Interval 1 – run at 8.0 mi/hr for 1 minute
Interval 2 – walk at 4.0 mi/hr for 1.5 minutes
Interval 3 – run at 10.0 mi/hr for 1 minute
Interval 4 – walk at 4.0 mi/hr for 1.5 minutes

Repeat those 4 intervals 4 times for a very intense 20-minute workout.

Also, don’t overlook other great ways to incorporate variable intensity cardio training by using a jump rope, a rowing machine, or even outdoor hill running.

The take-away message from this article is to try to train your body at highly variable intensity rates for the majority of your workouts to get the most beneficial response in terms of heart health, fat loss, and muscle maintenance

Full-body strategically-designed resistance training programs along with high intensity cardiovascular training programs guaranteed to strip off body fat when combined with a healthy diet are included in my book The Truth About Six Pack Abs. If you’re serious about getting lean for good, this book is a must-read.


There ya have it. Summary: Incorporate some interval fun, and for pete’s sakes, CHANGE IT UP SOMETIMES!!! … or a lot!! 🙂

I have also written a review for Truth About Abs (just because I think it’s an awesome book), and I have a special bonus offer going out to anyone who purchases the book there. If you are interested in the offer, definitely check me out here Truth About Abs Truth.



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