Cardio

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Cardiovascular Endurance

Cardio is king! We said it. And, it’s true. Want to know why? Read on to find out. Along with why we give you the info you need to enhance your cardiovascular endurance.

Cardiovascular health is one of the most vital aspects of physical fitness.

Why?

The state of your cardiovascular health defines the level of your fitness when you are put to task athletically. No matter what sport you compete in, the more cardiovascular endurance you have, the better you will be able to perform. And, that goes for the field, track, diamond, court, ring or ice.

Are you ready to unlock the secret weapons to better your cardio endurance?

The challenges that follow will boost your fitness level and help you achieve your goals.

What Is Cardiovascular Endurance?

Cardiovascular endurance can be summed up as the overall health of your heart and how well it, along with your lungs and blood cells, sends oxygen to your body’s working muscles.

When your cardio health is top notch, a chain reaction happens.

How?

It goes a little something like this: Your healthy heart, blood cells and lungs efficiently send blood that is rich in oxygen to your muscle tissues. This causes a boost in the amount of energy on hand for movement by your muscles, thus making your muscles more efficient no matter how you are using them.

Can you think of any athlete who can’t benefit from more efficient muscles? 

Bodybuilders, swimmers, CrossFitters, fighters, soccer players and everyone in between can benefit from efficient muscle power and become better athletes or just lead a healthier life. The more efficient your muscles are, the more you can do.

Here’s A Little Background Knowledge On Your Heart And Lungs

As you know, your heart is a muscle and muscles drive your lungs. Just like any other muscle in your body, they can be strengthened through aerobic exercise. The long-term result of doing regular aerobic activity is cardiovascular endurance. Cardio endurance is also commonly referred to as cardiorespiratory endurance, or the ability of your body to complete aerobic exercise continuously for extended amounts of time.

Boosting your cardiorespiratory endurance helps you to:

  • Live a longer life due to great cardio health.
  • Lose weight.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Improve your athletic performance.
  • Achieve sport-specific training goals.

 

Let’s get started.

Achieving Better Cardiovascular Endurance

We all have to start somewhere. Any aerobic exercise works to develop your cardiovascular fitness. If you like walking, running, swimming or basically any activity that involves the constant use of oxygen, it will work to build your cardio fitness.

But, you can hit plateaus in aerobic activity just like you can when you lift. For instance, if you jog 20 minutes every day, five days a week, and it takes you 10 minutes per mile, that 20-minute jog is like your base exercise. It should become easier over time, but at some point, your times will become pretty steady.

But, you’re ambitious!

What if you wanted to knock three minutes off each mile?

Sounds like a lofty goal. Still, it can be achieved if you progress through the following stages of cardiorespiratory endurance. Each stage slowly but surely injects overload into your training program. Overload means asking your body to work harder.

Why?

The reason is so that it adapts to working efficiently at a higher performance level.

Building cardiorespiratory endurance over time allows you to attain peak athletic performance and function at higher levels of athleticism than you ever dreamed you could.

First Stage – Beginners

The first stage is the base building stage. Before you get started, the one thing you need to know is your target heart rate zone. The standard way to calculate your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.

For example: If you are 30, your max heart rate is 220 minus 30. That equals 190. You need to be able to complete 30 minutes to an hour of nonstop cardio two or three times per week at 65% to 75% of your max heart rate before you can advance to stage two.

To calculate your target heart rate of 65% to 75% of your max heart rate, we will do a little math. For a 30-year-old we saw that the max heart rate was 190.

Let’s do the math:

190 x .65 = 123.5

190 x .75 = 142.5

So, for a 30-year-old, the target heart rate range while you are doing cardio training is 123.5 to 142.5 beats per minute for 30 to 60 minutes. If you are consistent in your training, you will build stamina each week.

As you build aerobic stamina, try adding varying intervals so that you are not always working at the bottom level of your heart rate range. Try to walk or jog a little faster for segments of your session. Pick up the pace! Once you have built a solid cardio endurance base, you will be ready for stage two.

Second Stage – Intermediate

If you can already complete 30 to 60 minutes of continuous cardio at 65% to 75% of your max heart rate, you have surpassed stage one. Some of you reading this may be starting at stage two or even three.

In stage two you will begin interval training. Interval training means you will work out at varying intensities. You will push yourself hard for a period of time, and then it will be followed by a rest or recovery period where you slow down.

Your intervals can be manipulated as your cardio fitness improves. For example, you may start your intervals at one minute of high intensity followed by two to three minutes of rest. As you get stronger, you may complete a minute of high intensity with only one to two minutes of rest.

The moderate to high-intensity periods are the introduced overload where you are asking your body to work harder. The overload periods are very important because that stimulus is what teaches your body to work at greater intensities, thus making it stronger.

Can you see the pattern?

The second phase steps up from phase one. It requires that you work at higher heart rate intervals ranging from 65% to 85% of your max heart rate.

If we use the same 30-year-old person from the prior example that means this person’s target heart rate range is 123.5 to 161.5 beats per minute for stage two. Once you can sustain cardio at this interval, you are ready for the advanced stage, stage three.

Third Stage – Advanced

As you guessed, stage three gets even more intense. Instead of running during your intervals, you will all-out sprint! The third phase steps up from phase two and requires that you work at higher heart rate intervals ranging from 65% to 95% of your max heart rate. The target heart rate range in stage three is 123.5 to 180.5 beats per minute.

Your goal should be to constantly improve your efficiency and effort during high-intensity periods. You’ll notice that as your cardiorespiratory fitness improves, you will recover more quickly during recovery periods.

Recovery periods can be viewed on a heart rate monitor. If you use one of these, watch and time how quickly you recover from a high heart rate nearer to 180 back down to the 120 range. The more quickly you recover, the better shape you are in.

Invest In A Heart Rate Monitor

As you embark on this journey, you will need to have the right tools to help you along the way. A heart rate monitor is the best tool for this.

How else will you know your heart rate?

Some treadmills give readings.

With that said, who wants to do their cardio training on a treadmill every day?

That could get dull.

The best heart rate systems come with a chest strap and a watch. That gives you a way to precisely and quickly see how hard you are working with the flick of a wrist. Many systems also log and keep data over time.

You can upload all of your workout info to your computer and watch your progress through charts and graphs. Believe it or not, this data is very motivating. It’s like having a daily contest with yourself.

Exercise Suggestions For Better Cardiovascular Endurance

Treadmill life can become boring.

No doubt!

If you want to spice up your cardio training, try these types of workouts or add-ons to your workouts:

Tabata –

This is high-intensity interval training. It was made based on a 1996 study of Olympic speedskaters. Tabata that is used by trainers across the nation today, a modified version of what was used with Olympian trainees, consists of 20 seconds of intense training followed by 10 seconds of low-intensity training continuously for four minutes or eight rounds. Trainers will even make sessions that last 16 to 20 minutes, or four to five rounds of Tabata, using different exercises for each of the four-minute rounds.

Fartleks –

Simply put, Fartleks are interval running. Think of track workouts.

Do you ever jog the curves and run or sprint the straightaways?

If so, you have completed Fartleks. There are quite a few ways to complete interval running. However, you do not need a track. You can complete intervals any time you head out for cardio training by simply changing your pace. Of course, you can even complete intervals on treadmills, step mills or any other cardio machine.

 

Circuit Training –

Circuit training also uses high-intensity aerobic exercise, and it is usually combined with resistance training. Think of it as a mash-up of cardio and weights. There are thousands of combos of circuits that you can do. If you have never trained using circuits, a simple Google search will yield the info you need to get started. If you are going to do circuits, it is best to plan your workouts in advance.

Cardio Between Sets –

Cardio between sets could be considered circuit training. With that said, it can also be used differently. On days you lift heavy, you can engage in cardio between sets. For example, after doing lateral raises and front raises, you spend 30 seconds to one minute doing one of the following before starting your next set of raises:

  • High knees
  • Butt kickers
  • Jump squats
  • Scissor squats
  • Other plyometric cardio exercises
  • Or any other aerobic exercise

 

Working out in this fashion keeps your heart rate up in between completing exercises that may not otherwise keep your heart racing.

What If You Have Always Been A Runner?

If you have always been a runner and only a runner, then it is time to add some weightlifting to your life. Cross-training, also referred to by some as circuit training, can enhance your cardio endurance and improve your running times.

Let’s talk about muscles. Runners tend to have quads that dominate. Sometimes this leaves hamstrings and glutes neglected. Distance runners are more often than not smaller framed people. It makes sense because you are covering a lot of ground. Being lightweight is key when it comes to swiftness over the course of many miles.

But, studies show that strength training can improve stride power. This leads to longer stride length and decreased ground contact time. These elements add up to quicker race times.

That’s not to suggest that runners should go through a bulking season like a bodybuilder, but rather that they use weightlifting sessions to build well conditioned and balanced muscles. Your cardio endurance will improve through the overload introduced with weight training.

Conclusion

Fred DeVito once said that “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.” The secret weapon to cardio endurance is pushing yourself. Push yourself during training. Mix new types of interval training and push your body to endure hard work using overload. These are the methods that will fine tune your cardiovascular endurance and make you a better athlete.

By: Sarah L. Chadwell, CPT

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How Much Cardio Should I Do-

Want to lose weight? Get in line for the cardio machines. But, before you do, read this. We’ve got the info you need to help you decide how much cardio should I do?.

We all want those rock hard abs, toned thighs, and buff arms. That’s a given. But the road to this lean and toned body is no easy journey. One good place to start is with cardio. You might have always been a runner or swimmer, but if you haven’t incorporated cardio into your workout, then better late than never.

Cardio has always had the reputation of being the best way to shed unwanted weight quickly. Running, jogging, walking, swimming and biking are always that fitness junkies can get that blood flowing and that heart pumping. But what a lot people don’t know is the details about how much cardio to do, what kind of cardio to do and how much time a day you should spend on it. Not to mention cardio before or after weights.

Obviously, any cardio is good cardio, but if you really want to tone and get fit then there is a method to this cardio madness.

Antioxidants For Cardio

Antioxidants For Cardio

Before getting right into cardio training, we need to tackle this related subject. This is a subject that isn’t widely talked about and most people don’t know whether antioxidants and fitness mix.

First off, what are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are a substance that removes potentially damaging oxidizing agents in the body. They also act to neutralize free radicals.

Free radicals are unpaired electrons that can damage cell walls and cause disease. They sure do get a bad rep, with good reason. But, certain free radicals play an important role in a healthy immune system. A study done on worms (yes, worms) showed that the worms with more free radicals actually lived longer than those who had less free radicals.

Antioxidants include glutathione, arginine, citrulline, creatine, selenium, taurine, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and tea polyphenols. These are generally all very good for your health. Because antioxidants neutralize and remove these free radicals that your body produces, one might conclude that they would be good for fitness lovers.

A study done with endurance athletes looked at the results when they consumed large amounts of vitamin C and vitamin E. They found that it resulted in a lesser training response. In other words, when the athletes took these vitamins, they had lower enzyme levels that help your muscles cells create energy so they were unable to work out longer and harder.

Another study found the same. The Journal of Physiology published a study done at the Norwegian School of Sport and Sciences in Oslo, Norway. This study looked at 32 men and women. Half of the group started taking two different antioxidant vitamin pills a day, one before and one after exercising. These antioxidant pills had 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C and 235 milligrams of vitamin E. The other group did not take any vitamin supplements.

The program lasted 10 weeks and consisted of both groups doing the same resistance training. By the end, the group that had taken the antioxidant supplements had not added as much strength as the group that didn’t take the supplements. The group who took the supplements also had reduced levels of substances that initiated protein synthesis in their muscles. The study concluded that the supplement group was getting a less overall response from their workouts than the group who did not take any supplements.

We aren’t saying you should avoid orange juice and green tea like the plague.

So what are we saying?

Make sure your antioxidant intake is moderate so your muscles can be in tip-top shape.

-The Reasons Cardio Is Important

 The Reasons Cardio Is Important

Aerobic exercises strengthen muscles, improve lung function, strengthen the heart, reduce stress and increase circulation. All of this can, in turn, boost self-esteem.

Cardio is also vital to heart health. Researchers found that heart attack patients who did cardio had a reduced death rate of as much as 20 to 25%. Doing cardio every day also improves your body’s ability to take in and use oxygen. This is important because your body needs oxygen not just to breath, but also for its muscles to properly work. When you do cardio, it helps with regular, everyday activities because you won’t feel as fatigued as you would without cardio.

There have also been studies done that measure muscle strength before and after a cardio session. These studies found that flexibility increased, as well as bone health. This also helps in the prevention of back pain and future disability.

Your Fitness Levels Play A Role

With all of that said, there are certain ways of doing cardio that are best for you. For example, when someone goes from not working out at all to being moderately active, this is when the greatest amount is gained. But, research has shown that not much is gained from cardio when someone goes from being moderately active to very active.

One study looked at 6,213 men over a six-year period. The focus of the study was on risks of death (such as if they smoked, did not work out, etc.), as well as physical fitness levels of the men. It showed that fitness level was a better predictor of death than their established risk factors like smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

So, it is easy to see why cardio is so important and the large impact that it can have.

Types Of Cardio

Types Of Cardio

There are two types of cardio that most people tend to do. They are called Low-Intensity Steady Rate (LISS) and High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

A low, steady rate cardio workout is one where you do your exercises for no less than 20 minutes at 60 to 70% of your body’s maximal capacity. The speed you do them at should remain constant during the workout. Some examples of a LISS workout would be walking, cycling, swimming, jogging, and elliptical work. Steady state cardio has proven to be very good for those trying to lose weight. It is also better for those who have joint problems.

How much time should you devote to a low-intensity cardio workout?

The best results seem to occur when doing it for periods between 30 and 90 minutes. In fact, research has shown that 45 minutes or more of running is ideal.

Why?

It is the best amount of time to run if you want to use fat as a source of energy. It should also be pointed out that fat loss, in fact, occurs in the hours after you’ve finished your cardio workout.

So what about HIIT?

It’s all the rage. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, workouts are ones where you give your best effort when doing an exercise for a short time period.

How long?

It could last just one or two minutes and then you rest for as much as double the amount of time you spent working out. You should repeat this cycle no less than five times.

Some examples of HIIT include using the treadmill, burpees, battle rope, jumping jacks and mountain climbers. This form of cardio will boost the metabolic rate during and after the exercise. HIIT workouts allow you the chance to burn lots of calories in a shorter timeframe. And, because you’re using a mixture of muscle groups, getting lean and toned is a likely result. As a bonus, it could also help prevent osteoporosis.

With all the perks stated, keep in mind that there’s a higher risk of getting hurt doing HIIT workouts.

The Time Of Day Does Matter

The Time Of Day Does Matter

It’s true. When you choose to do your cardio workout will also impact how much fat you’ll lose. Try to get up early and do your cardio workout before breakfast. If you do your workout then, your body will use fat as energy because you don’t have any other form of energy for your body to draw from.

But, you do have to be careful when doing this.

Why?

Your body can go into a catabolic state where it starts burning muscle as a source of energy instead of burning fat or nutrients.

You don’t want that!

In order to not lose muscle, you should strive to consume ¼ grams of carbs and ⅛ grams of protein per pound of your ideal body weight – not your actual body weight.

You Need Sleep

Let’s face it: Most people do cardio to lose weight. You might not think the amount of sleep you get every night will affect your weight.

Guess what?

You’d be wrong. It turns out that sleep can affect quite a few health problems. The good news is that cardio helps improve sleep.

It is believed that 50 to 70 million people in the United States suffer from a sleeping disorder. Studies have found that those who sleep fewer than six hours each night are more likely to have higher body mass index numbers than people who are able to get at least eight hours of sleep each night.

Sleep, like lack of exercise and overeating, is a risk factor of obesity.

When we sleep, we secrete hormones. These hormones help to control our metabolism, appetite and glucose hormones. A lack of sleep also leads to a decrease in leptin levels. That’s the hormone that tells the brain that you are feeling satisfied or full. The problem here is that you might have food cravings in spite of the fact that you’ve eaten enough to be full.

The National Sleep Foundation found that people who do some form of cardio exercise for 2.5 hours each week bettered the quality of their sleep by as much as 65%. Studies have also found that doing some form of cardio helped people fall asleep much faster and allowed them to sleep much longer than if they didn’t do any type of cardio.

So, it’s fairly obvious that sleep is vital for your body, as well as your cardio workouts.

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Conclusion

There are many health benefits to doing cardio. It is easily one of the best ways to lose unwanted fat and to get fit and lean. It even helps give you energy. When you get your heart pumping, it adapts to the demands of cardio and therefore grows stronger. So, when you are resting, your heart won’t have to work as hard to circulate blood as often. In other words, you’ll be more energized because your resting heart rate is much lower than if you did no cardio at all.

Cardio trains your body. One of the things it trains it to do is use oxygen more efficiently. That means your body will have more access to the oxygen within it so you won’t feel as fatigued and weak.

And that could lead to better workouts!

It also impacts chemicals called endorphins that are released when you do a cardio workout. Endorphins elevate your mood and alleviate feelings of pain and stress. That’s why after you workout you’ll get the runner’s high and feel happier and more energetic.

So be sure add some cardio to a dreary day.

Now that you know the method to this cardio madness, you can put it to the test. There will be ups and downs. You’ll likely have good days and bad days. But, it is crucial to remember that the journey is just as important as the destination. Get your rest, stay hydrated, enjoy a proper diet and work hard. These will get you where you need to be and you’ll learn a thing or two about yourself and your body through this fitness journey.

By Sarah Bayard

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Summer workout plan

Who doesn’t want to have a beach-ready physique? We have all the tips and the summer workout plan you need to help you get that physique as long as you put in the effort and stick to the plan.

With summer just around the corner, I hear all sorts of people in my gym saying, “damn” when they look in the mirror. More often than not, this is in relation to their goal for the summer. You know the kind. It almost always involves having a six pack and biceps worthy of recognition.

Many people, most notably the ones who join the gym as a New Year’s resolution with the goal of getting in shape, end up quitting. Although gym owners appreciate the revenue, I’m sure that most of them would rather have people talking about the success they achieved at the gym to get even more business to come in.

One problem is that most people want a magic bullet that automatically grants them a six-pack and guns. The truth is that there is no such magic bullet. Another issue is that someone will invest in a theory and stick to it religiously, like low-carb dieting to lose fat. Lastly, people will invest in a trainer, but then once the hour with the trainer is over, they go back to their old habits of eating junk, drinking soda, etc.

Ideally, when one decides to get fit, it should be a gradual lifestyle change that shifts from binge eating and watching too much TV to going to the gym three or four times a week and eating clean food with smaller portion sizes. But, life isn’t always ideal and people have their vices. Any good trainer or coach will recognize this.

I get it…

I like to drink beer and watch hockey on the weekends, but I know that the amount of beer I drink is directly related to the size of my (thankfully nonexistent due to my eating habits) beer belly. That hour I would have spent trolling YouTube for hockey highlights and videos of the sweetest goals scored, biggest hits and all that is instead spent either at the gym or making good, clean, healthy food.

All this said, here’s your ultimate summer beach body plan, just in time to start.

This Is The Diet

This Is The Diet

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first. From there, we can get to the exercise.

You hear it all the time: Diet, diet, diet. 

But what is the right way to eat to trim down for the summer?

There’s a method that really is quite simple. It’s called carb cycling. In short, carb cycling is eating carbs on your training days (days you lift) and not eating them on days you don’t lift.

Another rule for carb cycling is to make sure your carb intake takes places within two hours on either side of your workout.

Why?

So the carbs either get used if you have them before your workout, or they replenish your glycogen (storage form of carbs that your muscles need to work) that became depleted during your workout.

Here’s a sample day using carb cycling. Assuming you work out in the mornings, which is another tip for getting in shape in time for summer, when you wake up, start the coffee machine (caffeine is your friend on this plan as it promotes fat burning and also makes your heart beat a little faster, which translates to more calorie burn during the day) and make yourself some oatmeal. For flavor, honey and banana make great additions and also offer some carbs themselves. A small bowl is all you need.

Then hit the gym, shower up and eat a piece of very sweet fruit after, like mango, pineapple or banana. You could also throw a bunch of fruits in a protein shake with a little honey.

For the rest of the day, focus on eating lots of lean protein (chicken, fish, lean beef) and leafy green veggies. About 35% of your plate should be protein, 15% healthy fats (like cooking oil or butter) and 50% leafy green veggies. Your best options for that are spinach, arugula, kale, Swiss chard and collard greens. They all offer huge health benefits and lots of fiber. This is good for your bathroom habits, in turn helping to eliminate waste from your body (when you go to the bathroom, both #1 and #2 help you get rid of fat).

Another very important distinction to make is the difference between being satisfied and being full. Eating until you’re full is a surefire way to eat too much. This leads to storage of extra nutrients in fat. Eating until you’re satisfied, or not hungry anymore, is eating just enough to make sure you replenish what you lose during the day, but not so much that your body is forced to store it in fat.

Eating slower is a good trick for identifying this point for you. Also, listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry and don’t eat when you are not. Just because everyone else is eating dinner doesn’t mean you have to as well.

The last point I want to make on the diet is that it’s important to have a cheat day. I usually pick Saturday because that’s when people like to get dressed up and go out. So pick a day and do whatever you want on that day, but be prepared to get back to your diet on the next day and hit the gym hard.

The Bench Press

The Exercise Plan: It’s About Time

As mentioned, working out in the morning can make a huge difference in terms of fat loss and muscle gain. Doing your weightlifting in the morning means your heart beats a little bit faster all day. That results in more calorie burning and, in turn, more fat burning.

Also, it wakes you up mentally to work out in the morning so when you get to work you’re ready to go, instead of chugging coffee to keep you going. Try to keep your gym workout routines to an hour or less. The faster you move, the more you burn.

In terms of what you should be doing in the gym, we need to think about efficiency of the workouts. 

An efficient workout is one that focuses on compound lifts – ones that use multiple joints. Things like squats, bench presses, rows, chin-ups, deadlifts and the like are examples of compound lifts. Ideally, you would lift four days a week, so here are the four workouts that will get you ready for summer.

Workout 1

Plank 2 minutes

Power Clean* 6×2

Deadlift 5×5

Romanian Deadlift 4×8

Physio Ball Hamstring Curl 4×8

Pull-up 5xAs Many Reps As Possible (AMRAP)

Underhand Bent Over Row 4×8

Face Pull 4×12

*Only if you know how to do it the right way.

 

Workout 2

Plank 2 minutes

Push Press Walkout* 4×4

Front Squat 5×5

Back Squat 4×5

Dumbbell Lateral Step-up 3×8 each side

Bench Press 5×5

Dumbbell Incline Press 4×8

Dumbbell Shoulder Press 4×5

*Only if you know how to do it the right way.

 

Workout 3

Plank 2 minutes

Hang Clean* 6×2

Sumo Deadlift 5×5

Good Morning 4×8

Single-Leg RDL 4×6 each side

Chin-up 5xAMRAP

Bent-Over Row 4×8

Lat Pulldown 4×8

*Only if you know how to do it the right way.

 

Workout 4

Plank 2 minutes

Drop Snatch* 4×3

Back Squat 5×5

Bulgarian Split Squat 4×6 each side

Walking Lunge 4×6 each side

Dumbbell Bench Press 5×5

Close-Grip Incline Press 4×5

Barbell Overhead Press 4×5

*Only if you know how to do it the right way.

I’ve included a plank with each workout to give you some core training and make you more stable. This will in turn make you stronger, meaning you’ll be able to lift more and get bigger as well. Feel free to do any additional core training as you like, and I would definitely recommend doing so.

Do Some Cardio Training

The Cardio You Need

As far as cardio goes, there are a couple of options, and yes you do need to do it. Remember, this is like a crash plan, because summer is just around the corner, so the cardio is essential. I recommend sprinting, but not like the 40-yard dash sprinting. Here are three suggestions on what to do.

Sprint Workout 1

Set a timer for 20 seconds. In that time, sprint 100 yards. Rest for one minute and repeat 10x for a total of 1,000 yards sprinted.

Sprint Workout 2

Set a timer for 40 seconds. In that time, sprint 200 yards. Rest for 90 seconds and repeat 5x for a total of 1,000 yards sprinted.

Sprint Workout 3

Set a timer for 60 seconds. In that time, sprint 300 yards. Rest for two minutes and repeat 4x for a total of 1,200 yards sprinted.

All these sprint workouts are used by pro sports organizations around the world to condition their athletes, so they’re pretty grueling but very effective. Try not to do two-a-days.

Why?

This can be counterproductive. What I mean is do your sprint workouts on days that you’re not lifting and lift on days you don’t sprint. If you feel like doing some cardio on the same day you’re lifting, jump on the bike or on a treadmill for 15 minutes at a moderate pace, but no more.

arm workout routine

The Exercise Plan: Train To Maintain

I’m well aware that many people either go away over the summer, get long weekends where they go somewhere or live in a place with a lot of summer activities that can be conducted shirtless for guys or in bikinis for girls. The one issue that seems to pop up amongst most that go away over the summer or go to the beach on weekends is that they can’t maintain the physique they built in the gym in the off-season.

That is why these next few workouts will serve to help you maintain the physique you’ve worked so hard on. Ideally, you’d just stick to the workouts detailed before, but I completely understand that doing that is not always possible, especially if you go on a vacation. Here are the maintenance workouts, split into two different plans consisting of two workouts each.

This Is Maintenance Plan 1

Workout 1

Deadlift 3×5

Romanian Deadlift 3×5

Chin-up 3×5

Dumbbell Row 3×5 each side

 

Workout 2

Back Squat 3×5

Walking Lunge 3×10 each side

Barbell Bench Press 3×5

Barbell Incline Press 3×8

This Is Maintenance Plan 2

Workout 1

Sumo Deadlift 3×5

Good Morning 3×6

Pull-up 3×5

Underhand Bent Over Row 3×6

 

Workout 2

Front Squat 3×5

Bulgarian Split Squat 3×6 each side

Dumbbell Bench Press 3×8

Barbell Overhead Press 3×6

For maintenance cardio, you don’t need to kill yourself with the drills I detailed. Twice a week, go for a two-mile run and aim to keep your time less than eight minutes per mile. The other option is to find a 25-yard patch of ground you can use to run and do 50-yard sprints in less than 10 seconds, repeated 10 times for a total of 500 yards.

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Conclusion

Remember when I said there was no magic bullet?

I stand by that statement. This is hard work, but it will get you close to where you want to be for the summer. Still, you have to stick to it religiously. That’s as close to a promise as you can get. Remember one more thing: If it doesn’t work, that’s on you. What that means is if you stick to it and give it your all, you will reap the benefits over the summer.

Also, those maintenance workouts will keep you strong and healthy so when the off-season hits again, your maxes won’t decrease that much (you’re bound to get a little regression without testing and being in the gym four days a week) and you’ll be ready to go. And, now you know what to do for the off-season to make sure you’re even better when the next beach season comes around again.

Happy lifting!

By Michael Schletter, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT*D

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HIIT Cardio Vs Steady State Cardio

There’s HIIT cardio. It has its perks. Then there’s steady state cardio. It also works. Which one is right for you? It depends on your goals. We help you sort things out.

Cardio is one of the best ways to lose unwanted fat and to stay in shape. That’s a given. There is also no better high than getting that blood flowing and that heart pumping. The way your feet pound the ground is like a ritual. The quickness of your breath is a habit you never want to lose.

In any workout, cardio is key.

According to Duke Medicine, aerobic exercises are better than anaerobic exercises when it comes to burning visceral fat and liver fat, as well as improving insulin (which lowers chances for getting diabetes). Duke Medicine also found that aerobic exercises burned 67% more calories than anaerobic exercises.

According to Harvard Medical, a 30-minute cardio workout burns somewhere around 144 and 294 calories. So it is very easy to see why cardio is so important if you are trying to lose some weight.

The worst kind of fat for your health is the fat around your stomach.

The good news is that cardio does wonders for that unhealthy fat. A study in 2009 reported that aerobic exercise also prevents people from regaining weight in their stomach area. So it makes sense why so many people include cardio into their everyday workout schedule.

HIIT Cardio Vs. Steady State Cardio

HIIT Cardio Vs. Steady State Cardio

But which type of cardio is better for losing weight?

It comes down to high-intensity interval training or HIIT cardio vs. steady state cardio or lower intensity cardio. Well, we are here to tell you everything you need to know about both of these types of cardio.

Low-Intensity Steady Rate (LISS)

A steady state cardio workout is one that makes you perform at 60 to 70% of your body’s maximal capacity for at least 20 minutes. The speed remains constant. Some examples of a low-intensity steady rate cardio workout would be walking, jogging, cycling, elliptical training and swimming.

Steady state cardio workouts have proven to be very beneficial when it comes to fat loss. Having a low-intensity cardio workout between 30 and 90 minutes has proven to produce the best results. Plus, it helps build some great endurance.

Research has shown that running for 45 minutes or more is the best duration to use fat as an energy source. It is also important to note that fat loss occurs hours after your cardio workout ends. However, for those of you who want to maintain muscle mass, maybe keep the cardio under 45 minutes so that your body doesn’t start burning muscle mass and you can stay nice and toned.

Some of the best aspects of opting for a low-intensity cardio workout includes that there is a quicker recovery process, it is good for beginners and it improves your cardiovascular system. However, it can tend to be a bit boring and repetitive so maybe try walking one day and cycling the next day so you don’t get burnt out on just one form of cardio workout.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-intensity workouts execute a certain exercise at your maximal capacity for a short period time. The times spent is usually just one or two minutes at a rapid pace and then you double that amount of time by working out at a lesser pace. You should repeat this process at least five times. Some examples include a treadmill program, battle rope, burpees, mountain climbers and jumping jacks.

High-intensity cardio workouts allow you to burn a lot of calories in a relatively shorter amount of time.

Why?

You are using a variety of muscle groups. You should find that the end result is you get toned and lean. High-intensity cardio is usually for those are already athletic because it requires a lot of strength and mobility and there may be some physical limitations.

Some pros of the high-intensity cardio workout are that you will build lean muscle mass, you’ll burn more calories and it is shorter in time spent with more variety so your chances of getting bored are much lower.

However, the risk of injury is higher so you’ll need to be more careful. It is also a good idea not to do it every day or it could negatively impact on your muscle growth.

HIIT Workout Plan

HIIT Workout Plan

Here is an example of a good HIIT workout you can perform on a treadmill:

hiit workout plan

Are You Trying To Lose Fat Or Weight-

Are You Trying To Lose Fat Or Weight?

You have to be careful when making a distinction between fat loss and weight loss. Either way, good nutrition is key. Calories tend to have a bad rep when it comes to losing weight. Everyone thinks they need to count calories to achieve their desired weight loss.

Fat Loss And Weight Loss: The Big Difference

All calories come from macronutrients whereas things like vitamins, minerals and sodium are all micronutrients that don’t contain calories. Each macronutrient has a specific number of calories. One gram of protein has 4 calories, one gram of fat has 9 calories, one gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories and one gram of alcohol has 7 calories. Your body needs proteins, carbs, and fats to function.

Carbs fuel your body.

They give you fiber and lots and lots of energy. Carbs are broken down into two different types: Simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates. They are classified based on how quickly they break down and the sugar is absorbed.

The glycemic index measures that breakdown and absorption time where 100 means that it is absorbed almost right away. This causes your blood sugar to spike. A low glycemic index rating is 0 to 55 (apples, black beans, whole wheat). A medium glycemic index rating is between 56 and 69. This includes such things as corn, sweet potatoes, and apricots. A high glycemic index rating is 70 or more and it includes stuff like white bread and white rice.

Simple carbs tend to rate higher on the glycemic index where they are broken down and absorbed quickly.

Basically, foods that are considered sugary and processed tend to be higher in simple carbs. On the other hand, complex carbs have higher amounts of fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. They take more time to break down and absorb because their chemical structure is harder to wear down. Complex carbs can be found in foods such as oats, broccoli, quinoa, brown rice and whole-wheat bread and pasta.

Don’t Forget Your Proteins And Fats

Proteins help build and repair bones, skin, cartilage and blood. If you don’t give your body the protein that it needs, then you won’t be able to sufficiently build up your muscle.

A study done in 2008 and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that people who eat higher-protein diets burn more calories throughout the day than those who followed lower-protein diets. It also reported that those on higher-protein diets retained lean muscle mass as they lost weight.

You should try and aim for 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight if you are trying to build muscle. Try to consume foods that have between 30 to 40 grams of protein after a tough workout to repair those muscles. Don’t forget: Proteins take more energy and time to digest them. They make you feel full longer and you will burn calories in the process. Foods like fish, meat, beans, nuts and eggs are all high in protein and amino acids.

Fat is something that tends to scare people. But they shouldn’t!

Why?

There are good fats and bad fats. The bad fats are trans fat and saturated fats. Saturated fats are butter, high-fat cheese, and some meat products that include lamb, beef, and pork. Trans fats are usually in fried and packaged foods like baked goods and margarine.

So which ones are the good fats?

Good fats are the unsaturated fats. These are essential for improving joint and bone health, lowering blood pressure, protecting against memory loss and lowering your cholesterol. Monounsaturated fats replace the bad fats and are present in olive oil, peanut butter, and avocados. Polyunsaturated fats do wonders for heart health and they are found in foods like corn oil, walnuts, tuna, and salmon. Opt for egg whites, skimmed milk and low-fat cheeses.

These micronutrients are very important for your body’s health. Eating fruits and veggies are so much better for your body than eating that frozen dinner.

Why?

Processed foods like frozen dinners go through lots of complex processing steps and they are lacking in all three of these micronutrients.

Calories Could Feed Your Needs

If you are trying to build muscle and bulk up, then you’ll want to increase your caloric intake. Meanwhile, if you’re trying to lose weight, then you’ll want to decrease your caloric intake. Be sure to remember that everyone’s body is different and people lose weight in different ways and on different nutrition plans.

A starting point is to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. The BMR is the number that indicates the minimum amount of calories your body needs to function at rest or when doing nothing. It takes into account things like age, weight, height and sex in order to see how many calories you need a day to simply function in a healthy state. Essentially, it calculates how many calories your body will burn at rest, but it doesn’t factor in things like walking.

So, if you’re trying to lose fat, then you should be trying to shed the fat while keeping the muscle. In effect, that means that your weight doesn’t really matter. This process then all starts with the right nutrition plan and cardio workouts that allow you to only burn fat while not burning muscle.

If you’re trying to lose weight, then you have to be burning a lot more calories than you consume so your body will start using your muscle tissue as a source of energy, which will essentially converts to losing weight. Just be sure to keep in mind what you really want to be losing.

Why?

Simple, because fat and weight are two completely different things that require completely different workouts and nutrition plans.

HIIT Nutrition Plan

HIIT Nutrition Plan

Are you trying to build muscle?

Are you looking to get ripped?

Maybe you just want to maintain your weight. Here is a simple nutrition plan for men that should address any of these concerns.

Building Muscle: Carbs 40% – Protein 40% – Fat 20%

Maintaining Weight: Carbs 35% – Protein 35% – Fat 30%

Getting Ripped: Carbs 30% – Protein 40% – Fat 30%

 

Here is a simple nutrition plan for women. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to tone muscle, maintain weight or burn fat. Follow the right path to suit your needs.

Muscle Toning: Carbs 40% – Protein 40% – Fat 20%

Maintain Weight: Carbs 35% – Protein 35% – Fat 30%

Burn Fat: Carbs 30% – Protein 40% – Fat 30%

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Conclusion

The benefits of cardio are huge. It helps with all kinds of health problems and can prevent the onset of others. It is easily the best way to lose some of that unwanted fat and is essential to any workout. Both high-intensity interval training (HIIT cardio) and low-intensity steady cardio workouts are great for burning fat, but if you aren’t careful you can burn precious muscle tissue.

Regardless of which cardio workout you prefer, a proper nutrition plan is almost more important. If you are eating processed, unhealthy foods, then you will never achieve your desired results. Be sure to plan out how many calories you want to consume and burn per day and then go on to counting those macros. It is a lot of work to count macros, but the after effects are worth it. There are websites and even apps for your smartphone that can make this process a little easier.

The important thing is to figure out what your goal is and whether HIIT or steady state cardio is your best option. From there, get in the gym, eat right and work toward achieving your goals.

By Sarah Bayard

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Long slow running

Some guys like blondes, some like brunettes…. We all have our personal predilections and often for no other reason than “we like it”. I’m not here to judge you or your kink. And whether you’re into being shackled and spanked by a midget in a schoolgirl uniform or running marathons, if you’re ok then I’m ok.

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Shackles and schoolgirl uniforms I might understand, but midgets and marathons, not so much. Let’s leave the midget for another time and address the marathon and long slow running in general.

Long slow running is not my thing first and foremost because it is LONG. I like my workouts short. Around half an hour for sure, even ten to fifteen minutes sometimes.

Just thinking about running for an hour gives me shin splints.  Here are few more reasons why I don’t believe long slow running is good for fat loss…

  • Long slow running does not burn many calories after the run is over. Calories are expended during the run, but afterward, the metabolism will not be stoked the way it will be after a session of short duration high-intensity exercise.
  • Long slow running is not functional. Not since the utilization of the homing pigeon, has there been any practical reason to run long distances. Sprint as fast as you can to get away from a mugger? Sure. Race in front of a speeding car to save a child playing in the street? Absolutely. Deliver a message to the ruling emperor in the territory 20 miles away? Not so much.
  • Long slow running is the ideal Petri dish for overuse injuries. Lower back, hips, knees, ankles, shins, and even neck can all be affected by the repetitive impact involved in the long slow run. Find me a runner who is injury free and I’ll bet he either has pristine technique combined with the use of excellent work/rest recovery cycles or he is a freak of nature.

Again, if long slow running is your “thing” then have at it. Just don’t mistake it for the ideal way to accelerate fat loss or prepare for functional activity. Now about that midget. . .

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-Terry Asher

P.S. – Let me know what you think about long runs in the comments below.

Do you like to run?  Has it worked for you when it comes to losing fat?  Or would you rather do some high-intensity circuit training to torch the fat?

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