Is Cardio Sexy?

Lets define fitness first? 

Fitness is about longevity, vitality, confidence, mobility, sustainability, overall health and better living.

How we look in the mirror is a reflection of what we do most often and over a period of time.

At Elements4Life (E4L) we have a holistic yet sustainable attitude towards fitness. We work hard, practice mindfulness and recover well. Simply put, we train for life and do our best. #train4life

Is physical appearance important?

Sure it’s important however it is personal and everyone has a different view on this topic. The fitness industry sells itself on the perception of physical appearance being king however I prefer to look at fitness as being the ultimate journey in self-development and mental growth.

These things are not measured by your appearance. They are measured by your attitude.

Our physical appearance or I should use the term “composition” (fat v’s muscle %), beyond the genetics we are blessed with, is our measure of the cumulative choices we make in life. I think it is more than ok to feel and look good and seeing changes in your body from the hard work you do is also enjoyable and empowering.

We all deserve to be happy and content however like all things in life they are earned.

Health is wealth and our lifestyle choices define the result. Everything takes time to build and we must remember when it comes to our health, bad choices, especially those made on a daily basis, can have an adverse effect very quickly.

We must look after the three fitness domains – Physical, mental and emotional. Keep these in sync and aligned and life is generally pretty good.

Routines, mindfulness, consistency, environmental factors and behavioural adjustments are the key to success and no amount of fluffy motivation will get you to where you need to be.

Why does Cardio get a bad rap amongst the strength coaching fraternity? 

Cardio is not the devil however if you want more muscle and definition then too much cardio is not going to solve the problem.

There is no right or wrong and when it comes down to enjoying what you are doing, just do that.

We all have different desires and goals however it is important to understand the science behind training principles to best gauge what training is going to best serve your end goal.

What is cardio?

Cardio is a loose term in the industry for extended workouts done on cardio equipment like treadmills, rowers and bikes. Long distance running can also fall into this category.

We all need cardio (cardiovascular health and performance) training however there are different approaches.

What is better?

Again it comes down to your own perspective, on what works for you and what you will sustainably participate in.

Fun! Community! Repeatable behaviour!

No point doing training and exercise you don’t enjoy. It simply comes down to what is more important….to YOU.

Cardio is a double edge sword. Cardio can make us feel great. Those endorphins and a sense of accomplishment. The level of sweat in the clothes become a sense of achievement and in many ways people use it as a measure of their effort.

I enjoy some cardio (beyond the boredom of it) however I enjoy compound movement workouts with a sprinting ideology a hell of a lot more.

Resistance training just does more for me mentally, physically and emotionally. I see cardio as a crucial subsidiary element of my training and sometimes I use it for recovery and downloading from heavier workouts.

The key is really to combine the two or you could say three – HIIT, extended cardio and resistance – without forgetting to recover and sleep well. It is a relationship of fitness that should be part of everyones regime.

See the Elements4Life training system – Fire Power, Water Flow, Wind Energy and Earth Core – 4 training principles that cover all aspects of training.

What is cardio really?

Cardio is not running. Cardio is not rowing. Cardio is not skipping. Cardio is not the treadmill. However, running, rowing and skipping are a form of cardio. They are specific skills that generally focus on heart rate thresholds and require little resistance.

We have all sorts of terms for cardio from low intensity steady state (LISS), high intensity interval training (HIIT), aerobic and anaerobic and of course we have the stereo typed cardio like running on the treadmill.

Remember when we work hard doing our weights, light or heavy, we are also doing cardio. The difference being we are also applying resistance based stimulus to the muscles.

A double bang benefit which the treadmill can’t deliver.

Limiting your rest and keeping up with the beat in-between sets is what it is about.

The benefits of skipping and running and the variety of other heart rate specific skills are that they are good for heart health, endurance, dynamics and our vitality.

We should all be doing these things often if we are able….just don’t forget about the resistance!

Is cardio good for fat loss?

Yes, however there is a catch. Most exercises that support a calorie expenditure beyond that of what is consumed will result in some fat loss. The issue is aerobic training (50%-65% heart rate) tends to diminish muscle at a very similar rate. Applied nutrition and mindfulness of what stimulus you are applying to your body is important.

It also comes down to what people want.

Skinny fat? Definition and slim? Strong and sexy?

Our body continually changes and can swing between all of these in our life time. We must remember we are only 18 once and our body at that age is under developed. Through life we will generally get bigger. More mass and more muscle. Thats what happens when you move house 10 times in your life. You get stronger.

These are all different shapes that come from different types of training and resistance progression. Choose what you want.

Personally I like to keep my fat levels to a healthy level and work on definition and strength. No amount of cardio with maintain this goal. Only nutrition and resistance training does that for me.

If you want to be physically smaller at the expense of muscle….do lots of cardio. If thats your goal, that is ok.

Life is about choices.

Lets get back to the cardio…some science

Running/jogging, not sprinting, is considered an “aerobic” movement based on heart rate (50% – 65% heart rate capacity).

Excessive “aerobic” training can diminish muscle mass (catabolic breakdown) which does NOT support long term fat loss especially when our body adapts to our training program.

That damn plateau!

“Anaerobic” training can support maintenance of muscle mass and is proven to burn fat more effectively (85% to 100% heart rate capacity).

These are both forms of CARDIO (aerobic and anaerobic). One is a jog and one is a sprint.

Cardio, short for cardiovascular exercise, is any movement that gets your heart rate up and increases blood circulation. Doing any form of weights, lifting or a form of resistance will engage a cardio system as the heart rate is accelerated. I personally suggest resistance based programming as it makes more sense, builds more muscle, burns fat effectively and keeps fat off for the long term.

It is essential that you balance your cardio otherwise you will be fighting a never ending battle between fat and muscle and no diet will ever fix this.

Train effectively.

Build a better structure.

Understand your macro % and suggested calorie intake based on your goal (shred / increase mass / maintain muscle).

Cardio also supports the necessary filtering process of broken down tissue, cells, toxins and unwanted matter. The circulatory system also transports nutrients (such as amino acids and electrolytes), oxygen, carbon dioxide, hormones, and blood cells to and from cells in the body to nourish it and help to fight diseases, stabilize body temperature and pH and to maintain homeostasis.

These principles of training are part of our psychology at Elements4Life (E4L) and we enjoy seeing all our clients who consistently participate, thrive and achieve success.

What is preferred for fat loss?

Non Preferred Option

Do HEAPS of running, skipping, jumping and all the understood body weight compound movements.

Go on a calorie deficit diet and under cut you calorie intake.

However be prepared to be what we call “skinny fat”!

You will lose body mass however won’t be very firm, will still generally have some excess fat on your body and will lose overall strength.

Will look good in clothes but not that great naked although beauty is in the eye of the beholder so I will leave that up to you.

Without good food and a solid quantity of calories to support the energy output, you will also become tired and rather grumpy.

You will most likely put the weight back on too after you stop training and you will plateau throughout you programming.

This is not a long term solution.

Personally muscle and visible strength is sexy.

TO ADD A TWIST TO THE STORY: Walking or low intensity steady state (LISS), can support greater fat loss over the mid range aerobic threshold so sometimes a great strategy is walking, sprinting and resistance training together.

Just not too much in the middle threshold at the 60% level (jogging/riding/rowing).

Cruise mode does not get you the best result.

Walking takes twice as long to get the desired effect and not everyone has 2 hours a day, so sprinting and resistance is generally the go to method. Maybe add some extended walking into your week. Climb a mountain or go for a long walk.

Lift, sprint and walk!

Preferred Option

Build muscle structure through resistance and loading, work on a progression plan, eat food to sustain effective training levels, eat for peformance over pleasure, eat to maintain and build muscle, rest, sleep and look at your training as a lifestyle rather than an event.

It is not a circus. It is an art of discipline just like a martial art.

Become one with yourself and your movement.

Get a coach! Elements4Life has Focus PT and E4L Team Training coaches.

Train with intensity and focus.

Get off the treadmill and spin bike for prolonged periods of time however a few sessions a week is ok however be mindful it is eating away at your muscle and the body will adapt and form new habits in regard to energy stores.

Lift weights for enhanced neural connection, better body shape, overall strength and greater performance.

Sprint often for 85% zones!

Superset between sprints and resistance for fun workouts and mix it up.

Do these weekly – squat, deadlift, twist, bend, hinge, bench, press, lunge, push, pull, isolate and compound and use all the toys available to you.

Mix this in with variety, nutrition and HIIT (high intensity sessions) and you will be successful and become more awesome.

Good luck and happy training!

-Sebastian Jago

Coach / CEO / Founder

Elements4Life | E4L Team Trining Centres


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