I understand that cardio is largely looked down upon in the PH community but I'm interested to hear from folks who have found that adding some regular cardio to your life has helped you to lean out when just eating a clean diet didn't.
I'm a big fan of Tom Venuto's advice on getting lean. I have, and highly recommend, his book "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle." I eat Paleo most of the time and I've gone through periods of low/no fruit, no nuts, no dairy and still didn't lean out. I do heavy weight training three days a week and that hasn't burned off the last 10 pounds of fat. But, during times when I did vigorous kettlebell training and vigorous crossfit training I was leaner. In fact, once upon a time I was at 10% body fat while doing "chronic cardio" (5 days a week of 40 minutes on the stairmaster) and eating a relatively low calorie Zone Diet (with crappy foods.)
I'm an endomorph body type and found the following information from Venuto's book to be very helpful in validating my own experience:
Endomorph training and nutrition strategy
When it comes to fat loss, a well-planned, strategic approach to nutrition and training is more important for the endomorph than for any other body type. The endomorph strategy focuses on high levels of activity and extreme levels of discipline and consistency in nutritional habits. Most endomorphs also need some degree of carbohydrate restriction with higher protein levels to compensate.
Exercise is an absolute MUST
Endomorphs generally have a very difficult time losing fat with diet alone. Even a close to- perfect diet often doesn’t work by itself because the endomorph needs the boost in metabolism that comes from exercise. The endomorph must do everything in his or her power to stimulate their metabolism and this means combining good nutrition with weight training and aerobic training. To diet without exercising means certain failure for the endomorph.
Large amounts of cardio
Someone with a low endomorph component may stay lean with little or no cardio at all. Endomorphs need a larger quantity of cardio to lose body fat. Most endomorphs will lose fat with surprising ease by doing some type of cardio at least 4 – 5 times per week. Extreme endomorphs usually need cardio every day (seven days per week). All endomorphs will tend to gain the fat back if they stop doing cardio completely. Often, they successfully lose weight, but then put it back on if they haven’t made the commitment to continue exercising for life.
I'm interested in hearing from folks who have had success with more cardio than what Grok would have done!
I don't really know how I feel about "body types" and prescribed exercise based on it, but...
For me, I do better with more cardio than what is considered "optimal"...I love a good long, slow/medium-paced run. It may be looked down upon in PH, but endorphins from a good run give me a rush that lifting doesn't give me. The steady pace, the music I listen to, and watching a few cars pass me as I go down the quiet roads is a peaceful feeling. I feel like during these runs, I'm more connected with my body. I get a good amount of sunshine and fresh air. I know HIIT and the short, interval-baesd intenseness gives you a "good workout". I know it's better for fat loss, so I do it, but I don't necessarily enjoy it because I feel like it's too structured/forced. I also love Zumba classes, which are about an hour long. I find it more entertaining than sprints.
When I feel good about myself and excited to workout (doing something I like), I feel more motivated to take care of myself. I feel energized, positive, and want to continue to the day/night being on a good track. It sets the stage and emotional state to do well on my meals and to continue exercising (cardio and weights).
I suppose "chronic cardio" makes me a physically happier person, and you know, I'll suffer the "consequences" that people warn about...
Thinking back, the time I remember looking and feeling my best was when I was doing half an hour on the elliptical per day, plus weights.
As it stands, I've been chomping at the bit to get back to it. The only thing that's stopping me is I can't afford a gym membership and the weather has just been too crappy (minus the 2 or 3 days in the last few weeks the sun has made an appearance) to go running on the street. I seriously need to find a substitute. Luckily we're hitting the time of year where the sun should (theoretically) show up more.
But I honestly don't give a flying fig what anyone says about "chronic cardio". My body is telling me it wants to run and run a lot, and I trust my body more than any guru.
I love running and when I initially fell for the idea of chronic cardio,i stopped and gained around 8 pounds in 2 months despite lifting and having a strict paleo diet. So after research iv come to my own conclusions that chronic cardio is a myth to most,unless you do ultra marathons every week. im now back to 10% bf after re introducting my morning hourly jogs and wkend 2hr run.
I think what's detrimental to health is to approach exercise as a chore. If you love cardio - long, slowish running outdoors, like Sunny Beaches and me - then do cardio. If you love lifting weights or rowing, or swinging kettlebells around, then lift or row or swing! I am almost positive that the current trend for super-intense stuff will wane and that some form of low-level cardio will come back into favor. These things - and the research done to "prove" or "disprove" them, go in cycles. For that reason I have always felt it better to mix things up, and do what I feel like doing with the aim of keeping it fun. You can do what other people say you should or you can listen to yourself and have fun. I pick fun. I think Mark Sisson would agree.
BTW - recent research has it that it's not endorphins that we get while running, because the endorphin molecule is too big to cross the blood/brain barrier. It's probably endocannibinoids, the body's very own pot-manufacturing system. Here's a link: http://addiction-dirkh.blogspot.com/2010/08/cannabis-receptors-and-runners-high.html
Yes. I am no fan of the anti cardio that's going on in some places. Chronic cardio is bad, yes, but cardio is good. I stick mostly to HIIT 2-4x per week and some steady state mixed in here and there as well. Cardio + lifting heavy things + paleo diet = results
I agree totally with the above. I absolutely adore cardio. I was a distance runner, but cut it off after learning that it is probably bad. So, I do what to me is moderate cardio.. which is about 15 miles of steady state a week. In addition I lift heavy weights and mix in hill sprints and stair running.
I think it comes down to what works for you. If you were your leanest when you were a chronic cardio kid, then that is clearly what works. I have found that I feel much more grounded and complete when I have time to hit the open road a few times a week. Steady state cardio for me is akin to meditation.. and that is good, right?
I would suggest to maintain the balance. Lift heavy, but add cardio throughout the week. It is my understanding that chronic cardio is the most damaging and problematic when it is in combined with a poor diet. Just don't eat shit and you will be fine.
Several other posters have eloquently described the allure and the philosophical justification for chronic cardio, so this is just a quick answer to the original question. For me:
Low-carb paleo + walking 15 mi/wk: always tired and gaining weight
Moderate carb-paleo + running 15 mi/wk: feel awesome and losing weight
I think that cardio itself isn't a problem. It's the intensity which can cause issues. We should be able to keep moving for huge amounts of time at low heart rate intensities (55-70% of max heart rate is often mentioned) and this is the area of burning the highest percentage of fat. Putting up the heart rate can increase fat burning - although the next zone burns a lower percentage of fat the overall fuel load is higher evening that out. The problem is that it also burns up glycogen.
To be honest there's a better and more detailed explanation than I can manage here http://www.twrc.rowing.org.uk/coach/heartrate.htm
Personally, I've noticed big benefits of doing 30 minutes jogging 3-4 times a week and also getting in some long walks.
Keep your cardio to 3x weeks. Do interval cardio where you alternate the intensity of your cardio. Keep your workouts under 45 minutes. Have one or two active rest days each week.
You can sub a long(ish) medium paced run once a week and also sub a sprint workout once a week. Other than that lift weights or do body weight exercises. Walk, hike and play all you want.
Ramping up my walking last summer help me get down to 20% body fat. I was walking/gentle hiking an average of 2 hours a day. This winter I went down to an average of 1 hour a day and my body fat increased to about 23%.
Definitely not the 70% MHR I used to do on the stairmaster for 45 min, 6 days a week, but seems to be equally effective & easier on my knees.
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