Why we need to stop hating on cardio
“Being apart of the lifting community has taught me a lot of things, but liking cardio was not one of them”
Before I really started getting into lifting, I ran every single day and followed a bodybuilder style workout (aka aimlessly using every machine at the gym). I was always athletic, I played soccer my entire life, grew up on a farm and had a crazy marathon running mother – so running and staying in shape felt natural. I had a love/hate relationship with cardio, I loved how I felt after but I couldn’t keep my mind off of how bored I was. When I started dabbling into the world of powerlifting, it was totally okay to hate on cardio. In fact, most people told me I would just get smaller and never grow stronger – what a thought! (LOLZ)
At this point, dabbling turned into obsession and cardio was no longer. After six months of primarily powerlifting, eating as much protein as I could stomach, and absolutely no cardio – I gained twenty pounds. Not only was my body suffering but I mentally wasn’t happy with anything I did or even how I looked. I couldn’t do more than ten reps without feeling completely winded and forget about box jumps or battle ropes. At this point I felt stuck, I knew I was out of shape and what was supposed to be a healthy body, simply wasn’t. I knew I had to bite the bullet and just do it – I had to love cardio again.
Cardio merely contributes to your fitness goals, it doesn’t take over your life or sabotage those ‘gains.’ This negative stigma around cardio is all fun and games until you realize how badly your body needs it. Of course it’s boring, it’s not pretty, and ten times out of ten it sucks. Is it going to #build yo booty or help those #bouldershoulders? Nope probs not. But what cardio will do for your body will benefit your overall mental and physical health in and out of the gym.
A Happy Healthy Heart
Being one of the most important muscular organs in your body, your heart needs a little TLC too! Just as we want to strengthen our legs and tone our arms, we also need to focus on strengthening our hearts. When we exercise regularly, our organs and most importantly our heart, function a lot. Blood is distributed more efficiently and increases blood flow to the muscles, which is definitely needed during strength training. Getting your heart rate up also contributes to some long term factors such as lowering your blood pressure, lowering your cholesterol and reducing your risk for heart disease and some cancers.
Lifting weights is always fun, except when your program calls for volume and you’re too out of shape to do it. We all know that getting your heart rate up will ultimately build your endurance and stamina. The more you run, the easier it gets and the easier it gets the longer you can run. When it comes to lifting, it’s not much different. The more you do outside of the gym or even your main lifts, the better you will feel when it comes time for volume and long workouts. Looks like cardio isn’t so bad after all, huh meatheads?
No brainer here! If you’re looking to lose weight, my best advice is to start by walking more. Burning calories is a huge piece to the puzzle when it comes to losing weight and what better way than getting in some extra cardio? If you’re new to fitness or even if ‘bulking season’ ended too soon, just by walking thirty minutes a day, you could burn an average of 200 calories. Do that four times a week and you’re already looking at 800 calories burned for the week and roughly 3,200 calories in a month – that’s near a pound! And thats not water weight, thats real weight! When you’re intermixing cardio and strength training, not only are you burning a great amount of calories but you’re able to build muscle while doing so. (aka “toning”)
Despite the everlasting debate of whether or not cardio is needed in a strength program, I full heartedly believe there is a benefit from both and an even bigger benefit when you do them together. Getting your heart rate up not only makes you feel good but has a domino effect on the rest of your body. Your metabolism starts to work a little quicker, hormones start to regulate, and you’re burning extra calories that could potentially help you lose those last few pounds.
Cardio doesn’t need to be boring and the more you switch it up, the better. I personally love intervals, pushing the sled, or even doing volume work. I always feel like I get a great workout from them, I get my heart going, and I’m never bored. I applaud all of you distance runners, I have no clue how you do it.
If you’re anything like me or just looking to get your dreaded cardio done asap try a few of these:
Running / Biking Interval Run for 5 – Bike for 5 x2 = 20 minutes + 10 minute walk
Running *or(Biking) / Sprinting Interval Run for 3 – Sprint for 1 x5 = 20 minutes + 10 minute walk
Walking On An Incline Push pace for 7 – slower walk for 3 x2 = 20 minutes + 10 minute walk
Depending on your gym situation: Push the sled for 10 minutes, walking lunges for 10 minutes, battle ropes for ten minutes
Having a no gym situation: Stadium stairs, find a big hill and run hill sprints, walking lunges for ten minutes, running your own stairs (if you have stairs of course, or totally borrow a neighbors thats fine too), fast paced walk around the block for 30 minutes, jumping jacks, jump rope, jump squats, or even make yourself a circuit out of all three.
The possibilities are endless so get creative and get your heart going – it will thank you