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Cardio…Is It Really ‘Dead As A Doorknob’?

By Rob Poulos...

If you’ve read any of my past newsletters or articles regarding
exercise and its role in burning fat and getting healthy, you
probably already know that I don’t recommend performing cardio
or aerobics.

And I’m not only talking about traditional moderately paced long
duration cardio, but that interval cardio stuff too.  I’m not
saying interval cardio doesn’t work, it does, and I’ll talk
about that a bit later.  But even still, I have a lot of people
angry at me…in fact I get emails almost every day from people
who think I’m nuts for telling them they don’t have to perform
exclusive cardio of any kind.

Well, I’m kinda tired of answering all of those questions ‘one
on one’, so I thought it was time to let loose some of the
solid reasons why I make these bold recommendations  Bear with
me, because I’m going to go into some depth here…

First let’s tackle the traditional cardio…you know, the type
that has you on a treadmill or something similar where you try
and stay in your target heart rate for fat burning.  This has
you jogging at a slow to moderate pace for typically 30-60
minutes at a time, 3-5 times each week.  If you’re trying to
burn fat off, this is a big mistake.  Here’s why:

With this type of exercise, your body will be burning stored
body fat as its primary source for fuel.  While this may sound
good, its actually bad news.  What happens after the workout is
far more important that what happens during the workout.  After
this type of workout is over, your body responds by holding on
tightly to its stored body fat so that it’s available the very
next time you perform this exercise.

Even worse, what you are doing here is telling the body to make
more fat when possible, just in case it encounters this type of
cardio again.    Guess where your post workout meal is
going…that’s right, your fat stores.  It should be obvious
that we would want to avoid this exercise if we want to burn fat
and stay lean.

From a health perspective, this type of cardio can actually
reduce your body’s natural ability to deal with stress (or
life, as I like to call it!).  You see, long duration moderate
intensity exercise conditions your body and cardiovascular
system to be efficient.  And efficiency means a smaller
everything…heart, lungs, muscles, etc.

In effect, you are shrinking the core elements of your body’s
powerhouse, and while it may get better at jogging for hours at
a time, when faced with something truly stressful, you’ll be
outmatched and in big trouble.  How often does life require you
to continuously jog for great distances?  That’s right, almost
never.

Now if you want to be good at taking long hikes or running a
marathon, then this type of cardio will help you.  You’ll become
better by increasing your endurance.  But this is a trade off,
as you’re making your body more efficient, but reducing it’s
ability to deal with life’s activities and burn fat maximally.

There are also long term health implications associated with
this exercise, including overuse injuries and muscle imbalances
from the repetitive pounding on your joints and targeted muscle
groups.  There’s a reason there are injuries named after this
type of activity! (anyone heard of ‘runner’s knee’?)

One last point about long duration moderate intensity
cardio…most of these problems occur when performing this
exercise for more than 10-15 minutes…that’s when the body taps
into its fat stores for fuel…that’s also the point when you
start getting efficient and shrinking your powerhouse.  Sure you
could stop after 10-15 minutes, but the low intensity level will
have little effect on burning body fat or providing significant
health benefits.

Alright, hopefully I’ve scared you off of the treadmill with
that information.  But wait, you say, many health and fitness
experts have started to realize the same things about long
duration cardio…and they’ve found the answer…interval cardio
training!  OK, let’s talk about that…

Yes, interval cardio training (where you alternate short bursts
of high intensity with low intensity) is a tremendous
improvement from the old fashioned aerobicizing we just talked
about.  Why is that?  Well, first off, instead of burning stored
fat as fuel during the exercise, interval cardio burns the
calories stored in your muscle tissue.

Instead of training your body to store fat for the next session,
you’re teaching your body that it doesn’t need body fat for
fuel…because you’re never using it!  Your body stores more
calories as fuel for your muscles this way, preparing for the
next time it needs it (your next interval cardio workout).
Literally the complete opposite effect of regular cardio.

And would you believe that this exercise also makes your
cardiovascular system (your ‘powerhouse’) stronger, not weaker?
It’s true…you are preparing the body to handle intensity
instead of duration…a big benefit to long term health.

So at this point you may be asking, “Why, Rob, do you say no to
interval cardio if you just espoused it’s benefits?!”.  Well, I
actually do recommend interval cardio to my students on
occasion, depending on their unique situation.  But let me
explain why that is rare…

You see, while interval cardio training helps you burn fat fast and
stay healthy, if you truly want life changing results fast you
must include some form of resistance training in your workouts.
Building lean muscle and strength has an overwhelmingly positive
fat burning and health building effect on the body…in fact, no
other type of exercise can even compete.

And the proponents of interval cardio would mostly agree with me
on that fact.  When I discovered interval cardio a few years
back I incorporated it into my weekly workout scheme, which
included resistance training too.  Well, it didn’t take long for
me to realize that, while this was a whole lot better than
regular cardio, I still had 2 separate workouts to perform
(cardio and weight training).

This kept me in the gym longer and more frequently than I’d
wanted.  I knew there had to be a way to combine these two forms
of exercise, get all of the benefits and save even more time.

Well, after several months of experimenting, I discovered there
was a way to get these benefits.  And that’s why I don’t
typically recommend cardio of any type to my Fat Burning Furnace
students.  Interval cardio is ‘built-in’ to the FBF resistance
training workouts.  Now, don’t get me wrong, the FBF workouts
are far from easy, because they call on maximum intensity
combined with several other key variables to deliver such kick-
butt and permanent results fast.

But that’s why I and many of my students enjoy workouts that
last 15-25 minutes and must only be performed 2-3 times per
week.  Any more than that and most people will actually get
worse results!  So if you’re looking for the most efficient use
of your time, while still getting top fat burning and muscle,
strength, and cardiovascular health building results, the Fat
Burning Furnace style exercise is tailor made for you.

But don’t rush out and try just any resistance training program
while dropping the interval cardio…there are key elements that
must be included if you are to reap the benefits of both type of
exercise properly.  It’s not rocket science, but the principles
I’m talking about are essential in creating the Fat Burning
Furnace environment 24/7.

What’s your take on cardio?  Are you with me or against me?

Rob

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