elitefts™ Sunday Edition

Listen, fatty, you can think that not doing cardio is a great idea and that you can get ripped without it, but when you go this route and discover that you're still fat, the rest of us who are ripped will be here waiting for you...on the stair stepper.

Yes, some people can get away without having to do cardio and look like they have no skin. The rest of us have to work our asses off (or substitute the word “skin” for “asses”) the old-fashioned way—logging hours of cardio.

With all the misleading information out there right now about how cardio will make you small, eat up your muscle, and waste time and energy, here are some pointers to make cardio work for you without wasting your time.

1. Don’t do cardio unless you're going to do cardio: When you do cardio, you should be sweating and huffing and puffing. It should be almost impossible to read Facebook or respond to your BFF’s most recent selfie. Pick up the pace and make that cardio work for you by maintaining at least a heart rate of 130 beats per minute. This will make the cardio more efficient, allowing you to do less of the cardio that we all hate while still getting the full benefit from a fat burning standpoint. When you finish cardio, you should feel as if you've accomplished something and that you're happy it's over not because you were bored but because it was hard work. #beastmodecardio #quitfakingit #lazypeoplestayfat

2. Stay off the treadmill: Why? Because you don’t see ripped people on a treadmill. You see fat women who stay fat and athletic guys running and you don't want to look like either of them. It takes too long to get your heart rate up using a treadmill, and it's hard for most people to maintain a high enough heart rate to actually burn a good amount of calories and fat. This is one of the reasons why I don't allow my clients to count the minutes of their cardio session until they actually hit their target heart rate. For most people, it takes at least a third of the time of their cardio session to even get to their target heart rate. Use a piece of cardio equipment like the trainer, stepper, or elliptical that gets your heart rate up quickly and you'll burn more calories and body fat.

3. Cardio is most effective on an empty stomach, after a workout, later in the day, or before your workout: I tire of the argument as to when cardio works and when it doesn’t. The truth is doing cardio at any time is effective at burning calories and body fat. There are, however, lengthy arguments and diatribes on social media about the best time to do cardio. Keep these points in mind:

  • Any time you do a cardio session, the rate that your body burns calories will increase and stay elevated for a few hours post-cardio, slowly returning to its normal state. Therefore, doing cardio at bedtime isn't the best option. When you go to sleep, the body slows down and the rate that you burn calories slows down as well, potentially cutting into that post-cardio window where your metabolism remains elevated.
  • You want body fat to be your preferred fuel source for your cardio session, so fueling your body with anything prior to cardio can potentially make the cardio less efficient at utilizing body fat for fuel. In simple terms, anything you ingest is a potential fuel source for the cardio. You're doing the cardio to burn body fat, so not ingesting anything will provide your body with only one main fuel source—body fat.
  • When you do post-workout cardio, your heart rate is already elevated from the weight training session. You will pass the anaerobic threshold much quicker with post-workout cardio because you've already depleted glycogen stores while weight training, so this is a bonus. On the other side of the argument, you didn't “amp” up your metabolism as much because your body is used to your consistent workouts. Post-workout cardio is essentially only a small extension of the metabolic effect. When you do cardio at a different time of the day other than post-workout, your metabolism has to ramp up from nothing. So if you do cardio in the morning and then work out with weights later in the day, you get two jolts to your metabolism, burning more calories over the course of the day than if you had just done that cardio post-workout.

Cardio sucks. Find ways to make it more enjoyable. It doesn’t matter what you do for cardio as long as your heart rate is elevated for a certain length of time. That means that a lot of cardio possibilities exist that people tend to not even consider. Here are some options:

  • Swim: I hear people all the time complain about how cardio negatively impacts their leg sessions and they worry about losing leg size. If that is the case, swim. It distributes the cardio workload over the entire body instead of just focusing it on the lower body.
  • Half-lunge a graded hill: I live up a canyon just outside of Denver. To get up to my neighborhood, you have to climb switchbacks that are roughly at a 10 percent grade. I start at the bottom of the hill (about a half mile) and I do half lunges (not touching my knee to the ground) up the grade for half a mile and then back down. Which is harder—up or down? Try it and you'll find out.
  • Push the Prowler®: I know, I know, the powerlifting community will destroy me for recommending that one of their pieces of equipment be used for cardio, but it works and it works well. You don’t want it loaded down too heavy because you want to sustain longer pushes rather than shorter, heavier ones. This one can get brutal and it has crossed my mind to combine the Prowler® and my 10 percent road grades, but I haven’t worked up the balls to try it yet.

The secret to doing cardio, if there is one, is to do as little as possible to get your desired results. Cardio shouldn’t be relied on to get you lean. That's the job of your diet. Cardio is only a tool that you use to manipulate the body into using body fat as a fuel source and keeping your metabolism amped up and running hot. In addition, it's also a great topic for bitching and complaining about on social media, and you can’t have too many things to bitch about on social media. #cardiosucks #yeahicalledyoufatlookatmeimskinny #idocardiotostareatchicks #letsdocardiotogetherandbitchaboutittogether #ioncegotbusyinaburgerkingbathroom #ilovehashtags #JustSayin'