Are you in a steady-state of no progress? As a former self confessed cardio bunny I would hate to count the hours that I spent chained to the treadmill... these days the only time you catch me running is to buy food or to a squat rack.
Now the subject of cardio and fat loss is a controversial one. Some people swear by it whereas others shun it. If someone loves running then by all means they should run but for me to really change my physique I had to change my approach to cardio.
Before I delve into the details of HIIT and LISS, let me clarify these acronyms:
HIIT - This stands for high intensity interval training and by this we mean exercise that consists of a short period of high intensity work followed by a period of moderate 'rest' work. For example you can perform a 30 second sprint on a rowing machine followed by a minutes rest.
LISS - This stands for low intensity steady state cardio. This consists of purely low to moderate intensity work for an extended period of time. For example you can perform an incline walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes
So, let's go into more detail on each.
- It allows for more variety - conditioning can take many forms. You can do something as simple as basic sprint intervals or try tyre flips or sled drags.
- It helps maintain/gain muscle- you can apply the same principles from your weightlifting to your cardio by slowly increasing the weight during your conditioning e.g. Upping the weight you push on the prowler or sled for example
- It increases mitochondrial capacity. This increase in oxidative capacity leads to greater fat loss. Put simply this means that you will continue to burn calories even after you've finished your workout.
- It takes half the time than traditional means of cardio so it'll be putting your body under less stress.
- It can be fun! You can do your circuits with friends or turn it into a competition.
- Effective for fat burning
- Long duration cardio does make your body adapt but that 5 miles a day that you found so hard in the beginning soon becomes easier. You then find that you have to run even longer to achieve the same kind of results you did at the start.
- Damage can also occur- physical injuries, hormonal and metabolic. You just have to look at a marathon runner or a sprinter to see what I am referring to.
- Extended periods of cardio places your body under stress. The stress hormone cortisol actually prevents fat burning so your body will look to burn lean tissue for fuel instead.
- It can have a negative impact on your strength training routine. For example if this cardio is taking place on scheduled rest days
- It can aid recovery as it helps to tap into the aerobic system which helps get Oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
Give one of these conditioning workouts a go!
2 mins steady warm up
8 sets of 20 seconds intense followed by 10 seconds rest
Quite possibly the hardest 4 minutes of exercise you'll experience if done properly ;)
- Tyre flip
- Battle ropes
- Prowler push
- Sled drag
Do each exercise for 1 minute and then rest 30 secs
Repeat circuit 4 times
The most important thing is to choose something that you will enjoy and find sustainable. The best approach is to use a mixture of both methods as they both have their place. HIIT may sound scary so if you are just starting out why not try simply doing walking intervals on the treadmill!
I swear by my conditioning workouts and not only do I not have to spend hours doing cardio, I also get to eat more so I guess you could say I'm living the dream.