I think it's a four letter word to be honest! How much cardio should a person do? There is no set answer nor is there a right one. It all depends. It depends on the person, their caloric intake, their other training or sport and their goals.
But it's mainly about THE GOAL.
A while back I wrote that I would be increasing my weight training and decreasing my cardio "because I didn't like how cardio made me look". One of my readers asked about it, "what did you mean, you didn't like the way cardio makes you look?"
Let me explain. I think too much cardio makes most people look tired, ragged emaciated and skinny. If you want to insult me, tell me I look skinny. Skinny is not attractive in my book, it is synonymous with starvation and eating disorders in my mind.
The problem is, most people don't know when to stop doing cardio. They think it's the magic ticket out of the realm of fat. But it's not, take it from me.
These pictures were just taken the day I write this. In fact, I almost always use current pictures, (I will tell you when they are older ones); it helps me see where I am everyday and it "keeps it real"; you see me year round as my physique changes and fluctuates. You don't just see me at my best (but then you know that already huh)?
I think I look great- I am very happy with my physique right now. I am not dieting, in fact, I am enjoying quite a range of foods and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich moments before sitting down to write. (That was after a can of tuna mixed with a mashed up hard cooked egg and a huge spoon of dill pickle relish. Dill pickle relish has no sugar like sweet does).
My goal right now is to add muscle, lots of muscle. It is a difficult endeavor for a woman, we just don't have the necessary muscle building testosterone like men do. It is proven that you need a surplus of calories to build (fat or muscle); and you need a deficit to lose (fat or muscle). Anyone who tells you that you can add a significant amount pf muscle and lose fat at the same time is trying to sell you something, I guarantee it.
Yes, there are methods of "body re-composition" where you can increase lean mass and decrease fat, but this is mainly for extremely overweight people. When you are at my level, where i have been training for a long time and my physique is fairly dialed in year round, it's more fine tuning and it's not as easy.
I look around at people who lift, then they head up to get their cardio in. These people are either competitors who are trying to lose fat (and they will probably do a second cardio session the same day), or they are people who never look any different. Their cardio wipes out all the hard work from their lifting. Many of these competitors will end up looking like they "dieted too long" when their competition rolls around, and it's because they did too much cardio.
A couple months ago I cut way back on cardio, and I stopped all steady state cardio altogether. I am doing "cardio" 2 times a week for 30 minutes, that's it!
And I look like this.
I have been riding a spin bike with my gymboss, so I am basically doing intervals on a bike. I cannot tell you how important this little electronic gadget is, it ensures you stay on task and don't cheat. I set it on 3 minutes off (seated ride) and then 1 minute on (standing, hard pedaling, butt hovering over and just touching the saddle, all the power coming from my quads). There is a loud beep and a vibration (I need all the help I can get because my music is so loud) for 5 seconds at each start and stop point.
I am actually seriously considering eliminating all cardio for a while. It would be interesting to see how I change!
I still lift every single day, and on Wednesdays twice a day! So I am still quite active, in fact I am in a gym, lifting 70 minutes a day (2 days a week) and 120 to 150 minutes a day (the other 5 days a week, usually split into two sessions). Yes, that's over an hour on my "short" days and 2 1/5 hours on the "long" days.
This is the first time in years that I have done this, and I like the results. I look full, muscular, healthy and lean still.
I think that eliminating most of the cardio has allowed my body to grow the way I want it to. And as I mentioned, I am not dieting, but it certainly is not a free for all! During the entire month of October I strayed into the Halloween candy only one day at work, that was it for candy. I have been adhering to my typical diet where all food is weighed and measured, but I allow myself to eat with the family several times a week (when I am not lifting at night with Roy).
How much was I doing before? A lot compared to now, but not a lot compared to many other people I know. I would do steady state cardio (treadmill or stairmill) for 30 minutes 5 times a week. In addition, I was running stairs and jumping rope at lunch 4 times a week. I will start in on this again, but not until I get closer to a competition, when I need to drop all the extra fat (and yes, I do have fat that needs to go for a competition).
I have replaced my cardio with heavy lifting. I train hard, as hard as possible every time I am in the gym. And Roy ensures that my weights go up, no stagnation, always improvements.
It shows that sometimes we can have blinders on about our training and diet. I have relaxed the diet a bit and cut way back on the cardio and I couldn't really be happier with the results.
Think about your cardio and training, and then assess your results. Are you happy? Have you been "busting your butt" yet not seeing the results? Maybe it's time to make a change. Yes, it was a bit frightening, I was sure I would blow up like a balloon, but I didn't did I? Not even close.
Drop me a line if you want to chat about it and I will give you my honest opinion. I don't recommend making drastic changes if you have an event on the near horizon, such as a competition, or a wedding or vacation. But if you are ready to make some positive changes, think about it.
Set a goal and