Cardio is an essential part of any training routine. It increases endurance levels and helps prevent all sorts of illnesses like heart problems and diseases.
Cardio isn’t just about getting on a machine and pumping yourself silly for a set period in the hope you are burning fat. Just like when using weights, it is about perfect form and making sure you are working the body in the correct way.
It is key to know what certain types of cardio are doing to your body and how to do it properly.
Best Time To Do Cardio?
There is no set time where you make the best gains to do cardio. It ranges for everyone.The best time for you to do your cardio exercise is when you feel it is the best time to do it, and stick to that time.
Cardio In The Morning On An Empty Stomach is a myth. Fat burning doesnt occur during cardio exercise, but about two hours after. If you attempt to do your cardio first thing in the morning, your body will look at your muscles for energy – a bad idea if you donlt want to lose any muscle.
Remember, you’ve had no food throughout the night while you have selpt, meaning it needs refueling. Just like a car needs petrol, it won’t move and perform without fuel.
If you can only do your cardio in the morning, then eat when you wake up and give it 45 minutes or so before you train. If it means you need to be up earlier to do this, then so be it. Be disciplined and stick to the rules if you want the cardio to work for you!
There are people that have either been advised or believe that cardio before weights is a good time – unless you are not wanting to build any mass of muscle, then yes, as you are at the gym, kill two birds with one stone as they say. Another problem you will find (and from my experience) is that by the time you get to your weights, you feel pretty tired – energy levels have been used on your cardio, so for anyone wanting to go for the reps, where you want to aim for failure, forget it. You won’t be able to perform, which it turns makes your weight training suffer and workouts become ineffective.
The better option and this is purely if you don’t have any other time in the day to do it, is after your weight training. It’s all about your glycogen stores in your body – very important ingrediant in achieving your goals and aspirations in your training programme. Cardio will pretty much kill any existance of glycogen – weights alone won’t deplete it as much from your body, so you still have an adequate amount for a cardio session after.
Ideally, if you can hold out for 2 hours after your weight training to do cardio, so much the better! Be prepared to understand that the cardio session will still not be as effective.
My advice and I learn’t the hard way is doing your cardio on non weight training days. Also do not do your cardio anytime near your timetable for a leg workout. So if you do weights three times a week, then you can alternate those off days with cardio.
It means ultimately you make the most of your cardio sessions while you are able to dedicate enough energy to each day’s workouts.
The biggest rule in any training you do – the best gains when you have the most energy!
You need to also decide on what results you want from your cardio – if you want to gain muscle and have a lean stomach and low bodyfat – this is achievable – but if you want to build big muscles, enhance your fitness through cardio to be a marathon runner – forget it. How many marathon runners do you see have big bulging muscles.
The best way to monitor your progress is through your own eyes and the mirror. If you feel your cardio sessions are making you lose muscle mass, then you should try to cut the intensity and / or the amount of time you spend on cardio.
There are those bodybuilers who only lift weights to burn fat – and it works for them – others need about 15 minutes on a stationary bike or cross trainer – everybody’s bodies are different, which means all cardio sessions need to be different to suit your body.
My goal has been to build muscle, but have a lean physique – through trial and error, I have now found my niche – cardio 3 days per week for 40 minutes each session.
I have always been intrigued to see what people prefer to do in their cardio sessions. It’s a bit like weight training. You get bored overtime and I would always encourage you change your routine – try a few different things, which benefit your muscles, as you keep them guessing, pushing new boundaries in order to grow more. It’s the same for cardio. There’s more to it than just running. Cross trainers and the step are great for using more than just your legs and help you tone other parts including the upper body.
My favourite at the moment is using a kettlebell – and from a squating postion, I lift the kettlebell in a continuous controlled movement above my head, with my arms as straight as possible. I do 6 sets of 10 reps. Let me tell you, it works and it makes me sweat hard!
I’m also using a punchbag – “box” the bag while doing light jogging movements on the spot. This is a great way to burn fat, get fitter but also improve your strength as a bonus.
Finally, all I can say is experiment around the basics mentioned above. By doing this, it will make your training more exciting, meaning you won’t get bored and you will keep yourself motivated enough to achieve your goals and aspirations.