Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
May 7, 2018
Whenever I hear the word cardio, I always think of that great moment from King of the Hill where Bill—the loser of the block—started getting into heavy weightlifting with a bunch of knuckleheads. When Hank Hill suggests they do a little light jogging, one of the muscle heads says “Cardio!” and has this ultimate look of disdain in his face. A lot of people get this way when you mention any type of running, but in reality cardiovascular exercise is a wide array of exercises that are designed to make your heart rate go up. Essentially, you are moving to the beat of an invisible force, getting the body revved up and allowing your body to work harder in the process. A lot of different exercises can be considered cardio, so it is time to go on a little ride and see just why you need to focus on doing this stuff. Yes, if you do too much cardio, it can reduce your “swole” and make you less massive if you want to do weight lifting, but let me tell you, there is a way to get strong and have good cardio. Keep reading!
10. CARDIO IS MYSTERIOUS AND TAKES MANY FORMS
Everybody goes to the big three when they think of cardio based exercises, typically thinking of running, cycling and rowing (usually on a rower, since most of us don’t have the luxury of living next to a river like in Arizona). But let me tell you one other thing, cardio can be other things in your regimen. Now I will always state that the first three exercises are the best when it comes to improving your cardiovascular acumen, but you can do plenty of other things that can help you get the job done. Brisk walking can be a nice way of getting that cardio on, for it is the least impactful and one of the best starting cardio workouts you can use in your favor. You also have other workout machines like ellipticals and stair climbers that can also count as cardio based workouts. Let’s say you con’t want to do any of that? Well, you can always hit the ropes and do some work with that, getting the blood flow going while also working your arms to their fullest. This also leads to high intensity training and circuit training as part of the equation as well, where working high rep counts with low weights can really cause you to suck in some air. That would be the best of both worlds right there, improving your musculature and getting that cardio burn. Plus, did I forget something here? Oh yes…swimming is cardio too. So really, what is the dang excuse?
9. IMPROVE THEM LUNGS
Okay, this should be pretty obvious to everyone. The more cardio you do and the longer you can do it, the better your lung capacity. The great lie that Hollywood has sold us is the fact that anyone can become a long range sprinter without any real effects (or training) against your health. People can talk without bending over and panting after running full on for a full minute. They look like they just walked out the door rather than run like Usain Bolt only they did it over the course of two miles. No sweat, no convulsions, no complaints about the weather…nothing! Unless you are Tom Cruise or have some movie magic on your side, you will have to build up your standard cardio abilities in the usual way. When I first started rebuilding my own cardio, I found digging ditches was much easier to do and doing day to day stuff was much more doable. So yes, giving yourself extra lung capacity is important.
8. BURN THEM CALORIES
This one should be obvious, but it is also fairly low on the list. One reason for this is while you can blow up a lot of calories while doing an exorbitant amount of cardio, just remember that your appetite might also become bigger n the process. Trust me, don’t be one of those people that run or cycle for miles on end just so they can go to the local restaurant and eat like a pig. Anyway, good cardio when done right can burn as much as 13 calories a minute, so be weary of your caloric intake because if your goal is to maintain musculature and stay lean, finding a good balance of cardio vs. weights is key. Often times, most magazines will site that you should put at least twice as much time on the weights as you do with your cardio. So if you put three hours a week lifting weights, don’t try doing more than 90 minutes of full cardio. Here is a way one magazine put it….work on the weights on Monday, Wednesdays and Friday, run 20-30 minutes on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Now of course, if cardio is your primary focus, than be more focused on the cardio.
7. DIVERSIFY THE WORKOUT
I am sure you remember that crazy nutball Tony Horton. While most people know him primarily as the guy that does Beach Body pyramid schemes and fronts PX90, he also brought into the consciousness the very wrong idea of “muscle confusion.” It sounded too good to be true, that doing a lot of different stuff will improve your entire body because your body doesn’t know which part to burn the fat!! Well, it was kinda wrong, but he did bring into the world the idea of keeping yourself interested in fitness with an ever changing fitness regime. If anything, changing your workouts as your body changes is a no brainer in my mind, but a lot of people always focused on the same old same old when it came to fitness. So while you think doing a whole of cycling and rowing will be the key for you, throw in some other forms of cardio to keep yourself interested. It will build up your body more completely and allow you to adjust other forms of cardio much quicker. Plus, doing the same thing over and over can get pretty tedious
6. THE OTHER BENEFITS
So, do you liken yourself as a singer? Well, improving your cardio can help improve your range and your breathing. How about your desire to beat other people in holding your breath under water? Well, you have to have good lung capacity to do that. Here comes Tom Cruise again, for that crazy loon might be the actual incarnation of Xenu himself. Since he was already a good runner and such, he literally taught himself to hold his breath under water for a good four or five minutes, just so he can make a stunt in one of the million Mission Impossible movies look more real. Since he had a great cardio base, doing this was much easier. Cardio doesn’t necessarily make your lungs bigger as the expression goes, but it does make your body more efficient at using oxygen. https://healthyliving.azcentral.com/cardio-lungs-3084.htmlSo if you are out of shape, you are going to get winded because your body just can’t handle the new distribution. But if you are an ultra runner or cyclist where you can do a hundreds miles in a day or so, then doing a speedy five mile jaunt would be nothing for you while your non-ultra friends will be gasping for air. You don’t have to take it that far but you can definitely improve your capacity.
5. FUEL THAT COMPETITIVE FIRE
Okay, thesis kind of repetitive from last week, but it has to be said. There is just so many events out there that can help you keep the fire going toward your cardio building. Running, cycling, triathlons and even cross country skiing events are helpful. Get out there and see what you can do because having a goal makes fitness so much more fun.
4. GONNA END UP A BIG OL’ PILE OF THEM BONES…SO MAKE THEM STRONGER!
I mentioned this last week about lifting weights and such, but never really mentioned the science behind the strength of your bones and exercise. https://www.livestrong.com/article/133645-how-does-exercise-increase-bone-density/Well, I saved it for this week because it felt more necessary this week. Anyway, exercise, whether it be weights or cardio, can do wonders for your bones. The main reason for this is the fact you are putting stress on your bones when you do any type of working out. As you stress the bone, your bone cells migrate to the stressed area and start utilizing a complex process of laying down more bone platelets in the stress area. By doing this, your body naturally reacts to the changes and thus strengthens due to the fact it thinks you are going to snap your bones like a stick. This is why you must build at a pace beneficial to you, or you might end up like an Olympic weightlifting accident. This is why this is so important for women, especially since your bone density reduces post menopause.
3. ELEVATE YOUR MOOD
So let us say you are having a bad day, and you decide to go to the gym. Well, once you get there you hit the treadmill to listen to some Five Finger Death Punch, imagining yourself hitting the idiots that called you that day. Well, the longer you stay on that treadmill, the more you are doing to help relive the stress of having to be nice to nincompoops. The mental benefits of aerobic exercise have a neurochemical foundation. Exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators. Endorphins are responsible for the "runner's high" and for the feelings of relaxation and optimism that accompany many hard workouts. I have experienced these feelings first hand, and they have a much better impact on your waistline as well.
2. SLEEP TIGHTER AND LONGER
The great thing about cardio, which is truly one of the more underrated aspects, is the improvement you can get with your sleep. https://www.thesleepdoctor.com/2017/05/22/benefits-exercise-sleep/Aside from the obvious reason of tiring yourself out, cardio can especially help you out with various sleep disorders. The most obvious sleep disorder that can stir up issues with your rest is sleep apnea, and one of the prime reasons you suffer from sleep apnea is tied in directly to your weight. Obviously, the benefits of cardio will not only help with your sleep patterns and your weight, being able to rest more soundly will aid in your energy levels and aid in your appetite suppression. So in all, cardio and sleep really make a great couple.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.