Cardio. It’s become something of a boast for me that I never do cardio. I lost 22% body fat (from 28% to 6%) without ever running on a treadmill or doing any endurance cardio. At work I see people running for so long it makes me tired. I can sit through a 7 hour tattoo and just mentally go to another place but the agony of 3 minutes of running on a treadmill, and the boredom, make me give up right away. I find that music helps but my eyes constantly wonder back to the time, ever so slowly creeping by. No matter how fast you run, row or pedal it never seems to speed up.
The other thing I think I should point out is that the people doing endless amounts of cardio are often trying to lose weight. What they find is that after the initial marginal loss, they struggle to lose any more. The plateau happens very quickly with cardio focused training. Maybe I’m so against cardio because I really struggle with it. I am often impressed with the pure endurance I see in people training at my gym. I understand the amount of time and effort it takes to get to the point at which is looks effortless.

The last bash I’ll have at cardio is: It is not the most effective way to lose weight. After your body becomes used to it, it burns minimal calories. Much like performing the same resistance movements, your body will become more efficient at that movement and it will require less effort to do it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it allows you to increase the intensity. You can run longer, lift heavier etc. But I’ll reiterate my point; it isn’t the most effective way to lose weight.

Now I’ll say some nice things about cardio. The reason I’m even talking about cardio is that I have recently encountered some problems in my training. I have a muscle imbalance which has caused an injury in my shoulder, I have torn a ligament in my arm and I have sprained my ankle. To top that off I had a cold that has left me with a chest infection. I did a lung capacity test on myself last week which showed I had about 300/whatever it’s measured in. Which is apparently less than half of what is should be for a healthy man my age. So I have the equivalent to 1 lung at the moment.

Now, I didn’t want to have to give up training completely. I work in a gym, I have a home gym and I pay a monthly subscription to another gym. My life is very gym-oriented. And, though I have to concede, I need to take it easy. I don’t want to give up completely. So I took the following steps: I’ve got my diet in order, I’ve started doing lower intensity exercise. I can still lift weights, (but only light ones) I can still do some body-weight stuff and I can still do (some) movement training. The problem I am facing is that the intensity is too low; I don’t feel like I’ve been doing enough. So I woke up one morning and decided to add in some cardio.

It had been almost 10 years since I had done cardio in a commercial gym. I’ll admit, I didn’t even know what one wears to do cardio in a gym. I had to consult my parents. I have done some outdoor running when I needed to cut weight and increase my fitness levels for my fight. I also do a lot of skipping and rounds on the bag. Even then, that’s more interval style training rather than endurance cardio. So I went to the gym, I did 10 minutes on a spin bike, then 3×3 min rounds on the bag, then 10 more minutes on the bike and then finished off with some circuit training. It was perhaps the biggest endorphin rush I’ve had at the gym in a good few years. I can see why it appeals to some people and once you get through the struggle And after you get better at it, I’d imagine you look at the clock less.

I did this style of training one day, the next day I had a martial arts class so I skipped the gym that day then the next day I did it again. I felt my lung capacity had increased, I felt my body had already adapted to that style of training. I upped the intensity. That night (last night) I decided to check out what classes were on before I had to start work.  There was a spin class, as I’ve been using the spinner I thought it might be a good idea. Now, I’m not totally new to spin classes. I did used to go to them about 10 years ago. I know it’s hard. But I thought, “Hey, I’ve been doing this cardio thing for 3 days now, let’s test it”.
The class was with my boss, which I thought would make me push myself harder. I turned up to a small class, I was planning on hiding in the back, but the entire front row was empty. It’s coming up to the Easter weekend so I’m guessing that’s why there were less people there. The spin classes are usually hard to get booked in to.

Leading the class I’m sure she made it harder because I was there. We did a ‘strength’ ride. The class was really difficult, my lungs were burning, my legs were burning but I pushed through, I kept pace all the way through. Mentally I knew I could do it so I really pushed myself. Classes are where I shine because, although it’s not a race, it is a race. I’m going to beat everyone in that room or there’s no point in being there. I raced away and I pushed really hard. It was interesting to see how my HIIT training translated into endurance cardio. I kept up for the 45 minutes but I didn’t have much more to give after that.

It’s made me re-evaluate the benefits of cardio training. It may not be the most effective form of exercise for weight loss. But it will aid in weight loss. It will also improve fitness levels. There’s a reason it’s called ‘cardio’, it’s good for your heart, and it’s also good for your lungs. To anyone who trains a lot, I’d recommend adding some cardio in. I believe it adds another dimension to your training. I also believe it’s an excellent way to measure the level of your fitness and see the improvements.
I just hope I can get to the point where I’m not watching the clock constantly.

 

Don’t be afraid of the ‘C’ word.