Why slow cardio is a waste of time
I need to take a deep breath on this one as the topic resides close to the rage centre in my brain. One of the most painful things you will see in a gym is fit able people walking endlessly uphill on a treadmill whilst shouting about LISS (low intensity steady state) training as a means of burning fat. The old theory is that such efforts at a lower heart rate rely on fat as a primary fuel source. The fat will magically disappear as you trudge for eternity through the dullest workout of all time. You can even read a copy of 50 Shades of Grey whilst doing it.
Jokes aside the theory is true. To a point. Working at lower intensities will encourage fat oxidation as oppose to higher intensity work that will favor glycogen (Sugar obtained from carbohydrates). Your body needs fuel to perform any kind of physical task and the kind of work you do will determine which fuel source is favored. The ability to oxidize fat is hugely important for endurance and ultra endurance athletes as your body is able to store a lot more fat than glycogen (up to 40,000 cals can be oxidized from fat versus a mere 2000 from sugar). Once an event exceeds 90 minutes in length the ability to oxidize fat will be a strong influence over how will an athlete can perform.
Faster lard loss
So what’s the problem here? We all want to metabolize fat, right? Lets get realistic. The questions you need to ask yourself are: “How do I get the most bang for my buck in the gym?” and “How do I improve my metabolic rate” (the rate at which I burn calories on a daily basis). For the most part the answer is this: high intensity work, intervals, sprints and lifting heavy stuff and workouts that combine theses elements. Here are the reasons why:
1. Working in this way will increase your metabolic rate which means you will consistently burn more calories on a daily basis as oppose to just the time you spend in the gym.
2. Working in the way increases EPOC (excess post oxygen consumption). This simply means that you will continue to burn calories after you have finished training….a lot more calories than from a steady state effort. Again it’s not just about the time you spend in the gym, it’s a about your body’s reaction to the work you do.
3. This is far more time economical. Most of us live busy lives and need to get as much out of the limited time we have. Only got 20 minutes to train? Try doing 5x500m Row Sprints with 1 min rest. It’s a lot of valuable, effective work!
4. Working in this way encourages the release of Growth Hormone. Growth Hormone s the most potent fat burning tool you have. You were swimming in this stuff as a teenager, which is why is was easier to stay lean back then. As we get older we look for ways to encourage the release of it and decrease the depletion of it as the years go by. Lifting heavy stuff, working at high intensities and sleeping well are the strongest weapons you have to fight the cause for more Growth Hormone. It is in effect anti aging, so I’ve just saved you a fortune in botox.
When to go slow
Is there a place for “cardio”. Yes and I do it. When? It is an excellent recovery practice to encourage oxygen delivery to the working muscles, This brings fresh nutrients to the body and helps you recover quicker from your higher intensity work. It’s also excellent for base conditioning. It will help you recover during your high intensity workouts and will make you a better athlete all round.