Attempting to make cardio less shit.
Keen blogranauts will know that I am trying to reclaim the lost kingdom of my waistline. The results so far have been somewhat less then spectacular.
Things started promising enough – I took my chunky-bulk from 19st 10lbs down to 17st 10lbs in a month. 2 stone in 30 days may sound impressive, and I did feel a whole lot better for it. The problem was that, as usual, I went too far, too hard, too soon. I am an idiot. There is no way that you can lose that much weight in that short period of time and for some of it not to be muscle.
What was I thinking? The whole point of starting this in the first place was to cut the wibbly lard but keep the throbbing gristle (Throbbing Gristle will be the name of my Hardcore Punk/Thrash/Metal/Jazz fusion band – we’re gonna be huge). It’s not even as if I’ve got a time scale to work to. I’m not cutting weight for a fight or preparing for a competition. I don’t need to be in a rush.
Having had several stern words with myself it has become clear that I needed a cunning plan.
As I talked about in my previous post it’s quite easy to complicate things. What starts as a simple, clean and elegant exercise plan ends up being complex and convoluted as you add more and more pointless crap to it. To much training, especially weight training, also really taxes the body’s recuperative abilities. Remember – training makes you smaller and weaker. It’s recovery from training that makes you bigger and stronger.
With this in mind I’m going to attempt something I’ve never tried before which is . . . training less.
I know, pretty radical huh? I think that if I strip my workouts down to the absolute essentials (squat, bench, deadlift) and only lift twice a week I can maximise my recovery and free up some precious time to do something else. Namely that dreaded and most feared of beasts – cardio!
My week is going to look like this:
Monday – Deadlifts 5 x 2 reps. Bench press 4 sets of 10 reps. Some assistance work in the shape of pulldowns, military press, curls and tricep stuff.
Tuesday – Cardio
Wednesday – Cardio
Thursday – Cardio
Friday – Squats 1 set of 30 reps (I may live to regret this). Bench press 4 sets 10 reps (I might go heavier for fewer reps or change the type of benching. Then again I might not. That’s the type of exciting, on the razor’s edge, devil-may-care type of live I lead.) Some more assistance stuff.
Saturday & Sunday – Kid wrangling or possibly strangling depending on how much sugar they’ve just had.
But there are a few problems with cardio, not least of which is that is mind-numbingly, soul-crushingly, joy-pulverisingly dull to do. There is also the problem of if you do too much of it for too long it also strip-mines your body of all it’s lovely, shiny muscle.
So how do you do cardio to get buff, not lose muscle and not lose your mind to the endless tedium of the treadmill?
- Don’t train for too long. Keep it to 30 mins.
- Sprints are great for fat burning. Do them in any way you want. Road, treadmill, bike, rower.
- Don’t do too many sprints. 20 all out efforts is more than enough for even the gnarliest of warriors.
- Steady state cardio done for long periods of time will make you lose the will to live. Just go for a walk instead.
- If in the gym I find following the 3 minute rule handy. Do anything you want but only for 3 mins before changing it. For example: 3min bike. 3min kettlebell hurling. 3min round on the heavy bag. 3min row. 3mins ab circuit. Etc.
- If your going to include some weights work try to pick exercises that have little in the way of eccentric loading. Most movements have two phases – eccentric and concentric. In simple terms the lifting and lowering of a weight. It’s the eccentric phase (lowering) that causes the damage to your muscles so if you can minimise it you can help improve your recovery process. Some good examples are; olympic lifts, loaded carries, sled or prowler pushing and pulling, cables, bands, high resistance cycling, some plyometric work, some TRX exercises, throwing stuff.
Here’s what I’ve been doing this week.
10mins crosstrainer to get my thick, near clotted blood flowing.
2mins cycling at a very high level done as a slow grind. (This is awesome eccentric-less quad training) supersetted with Palof presses for the ol’ ablets. Done 3 times round.
2 x 2min rounds on the heavy bag.
300m row/200m row/100m row done with as little rest as I needed.
Back on the bike for more grinding for 2mins this time supersetted with 10 squat jumps.
As the weeks go by I’ll be adding in other fun things like sprints, sledgehammer action, kettlebells.
Love and Rockets,