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Cardio is cardio, right? Does it really matter what you do or how long you do it?
Yes, it matters a great deal! But don’t worry because you don’t need to know everything about it, you just need to know what will work for you depending on your current level of fitness and your diet.
[Here is a couple doing cardio on a nice day. Being from Pittsburgh, we don’t get these type of days as much as I would like! It is always great to spend time outside though.]
Don’t make it harder than it has to be
One thing that I know most people have trouble with when it comes to losing fat is the enormous amount of misinformation out there. If you have been reading any of my posts from the beginning, you already know that I like to keep things simple.
Simple = you feel confident and stick with it
Hard and confusing = you get information overload and give up
With the way that information gets passed around on the internet and everyone is a so-called expert, it is easy to get confused or jump from one program to the next. Don’t do this. . . unless you like being frustrated and enjoy making little progress.
Find a program that you want to try and then stay on it until the end
Once you find a workout that you want to try, do the entire workout. If it’s an eight week or twelve week program, make sure you stick with it the whole time. Bouncing around from one workout to another will only decrease your potential results. Most people get started and then switch to something else before any real results can happen. Don’t do this, don’t quit before the magic can happen.
Your diet and body condition will dictate what type of cardio to do
The perfect state for your body to be in to lose fat is a “carb depleted state”. This means that you have very little carbs stored in the muscles. When this happens, the body will generally access stored body fat for energy. If you are walking around “carbed up” all the time, you are going to have a harder time losing fat. If you get a really good “pump” while you are lifting, you are most likely not in a carb depleted state.
The “pump” looks great but doesn’t help you lose fat
Too many carbs in your system will give you the pump and make your muscles look bigger in the gym, but make it harder to lose fat. This will make you look better in the gym, but worse when you are not in the gym. You want to look better when you are not in the gym because you spend more time out of the gym, right?
This is always very challenging for me because I love the “pump” In fact I feel very skinny when I am carb depleted. I sometimes have trouble losing the last bit of fat around my waist because when I am carb depleted and in the perfect state to lose fat, I look in the mirror and sabotage myself. I think that I look too skinny and need to eat more and unless I mentally prepare myself for this, I will give in and start to eat more carbs. So, be prepared for this and don’t let it affect you.
Try this to quickly deplete the carbs in your system
I usually don’t recommend doing cardio for prolonged periods of time. I actually can’t stand jogging on the treadmill for 45 minutes or an hour, especially at a hard pace. Although, whenever you have too many carbs in your system from overeating a bit, this type of cardio will work wonders.In fact, if you eat clean and do this type of cardio you should get back to the “carb depleted state” in around 24 hours or less. Only do this on occasion though, don’t over do it.
Once you are back on track, do interval training
Once you become carb depleted, you should stick with some type of resistance training such as HIIT and then do limited interval cardio. I usually only do around 15-20 minutes of interval cardio at this point. Remember not to over do it with the cardio whenever you are dieting hard. Just remember that if you are slacking on your diet, do some longer and harder cardio and tighten up the diet. Once the diet is tighter, do shorter and faster cardio.
Keep track and do what works for you
The best thing that you can do for yourself is to keep a journal of how you are training and what is working. Some of this will work for you and some won’t. If you don’t stick with it long enough and keep track of the results in a journal, you will never know and you will keep trodding along aimlessly.
Note: If you look hard enough, you will find someone that talks about a study that was done that will contradict every different type of training that there is! One will say to do this because of a study and one will say that that doesn’t work and you should do this instead. I am often amused to read on certain blogs or forums the comments from some people that try to come across as the know it all with the answers. If the blog says anything that they don’t think is accurate, they puff up their chest and go on and on about this study and that study and use big words to try and sound important.My best advice is to keep track of what you do and see how your body reacts to it, if it works, great. If it doesn’t, then adjust it and try something else. You are always going to be making adjustments. There is no one correct way that will always work for every person and always work all the time. Even if your body is responding to some type of training, as you make progress, things may change and you will have to adjust.