Some people love cardiovascular (cardio) training, and some people don’t. Most people think that the key to weight loss is lots of cardio and lower calories. That’s an argument for another day but let’s agree that some cardio does play a role in weight loss and weight maintenance. When it comes to exercise there isn’t just one thing that can do it all. Strength training comes close but doesn’t have it all.
I am well known for advocating that people lift weights to change their body composition. So much so that it has become the cornerstone of our training philosophy here at Strive. The simple reason is that it provides the most bang for the buck. Strength training can do such a multitude of things and enhance so many physical qualities more than any other form of exercise. From building muscle and burning fat to improving bone density and strength, it does it all.
At Strive, we coach what is called “metabolic strength training workouts” for the majority of our Semi-Private and Private training workouts. Research has shown this to be more efficient at burning fat and building muscle than traditional cardiovascular work. It also helps us regular folks (non D1 athletes, you know, people in the Olympics and stuff) to build more muscle efficiently.
While this type of strength training has been shown to boost cardio benefits, I feel, and research shows that each of us may need a little more cardio work to help improve cardiovascular efficiency and accelerate weight loss. This gap in training is where our Conditioning sessions like Burn, Sprint and Punch come in to play.
We are always looking to optimize our training protocols. Over time we have found that combining aerobic-based movements (Ski Erg, Rower, Bike), with large movement (sled pushes, ball slams, wall ball, kettlebell swings, thrusters), produces amazing results at both burning fat and improving the aerobic system.
These workouts help to challenge your energy system creating a post exercise demand for more calories and improves your cardiovascular efficiency as your heart has to react to and recover from bouts of stress. These workouts also help to create a caloric deficit which is essential in weight loss.
Smart Cardio on a Machine
Instead of hopping on a bike, treadmill or elliptical and just moving at a slow, steady pace, consider working in heart rate intervals. Our MyZone program is ideal for this but you can guestimate too. To really train your heart efficiently and get more caloric output per session work in the following manner:
Arc Trainer makes it super easy. Just choose the program Interval 1:1 or Interval 1:2 and select a level and the Arc Trainer runs the protocol. You’ll work at a high cardiovascular level for 20-60 seconds and then recover for 20 seconds to 2 minutes.
On the rowing machine or bike simply track time. After a brief warmup, work at a high output of either speed or resistance for 60-90 seconds and then lower the resistance until your heart rate recovers. Probably 2-3 minutes.
On a treadmill, mix in sprints or elevation climbs to increase heart rate and then back to walking for recovery. Use the lower time for work intervals and a higher time for recovery periods.
No matter what, strength training will ALWAYS be my go-to for programming. The act of lifting weights has quite literally changed my life and has also helped me change other peoples. The power of moving better and getting stronger all the while changing the way you look and feel is an amazing thing. But we do need to pay attention to our ticker, increases oxygen consumption, take days off of lifting to recover, and as a bonus lose some extra body fat.