Cardio has evolved tremendously over the years. Sure, getting the heart rate up is still key and that won’t ever change. However, how bodybuilders apply cardio has changed a lot.
It used to be that training for a competition, a bodybuilder would get on the bike following his workout and stay on it for 45 minutes to an hour, steadily peddling away until he was exhausted and fell off the bike.
Today, it’s a lot different. Higher intensity cardio is key, and while slow steady burns are still valuable some of the time, high intensity, sprint cardio and interval cardio is where it’s at!
High Intensity Cardio
Pick a machine of choice (treadmill, elliptical trainer or bike and do a 5 minute warm up.
Start a moderate pace for 1 minute, then crank up the pace to 90 or 95% of your max heart rate (If you’re 30, your max heart rate is 190, so 90% of your MHS is 171bpm ~ If you’re 25 your max heart rate is 195, so do the math!)
Continue doing this for 15 to 20 seconds then slow to your starting pace for another minute, and then followed by another minute of all out sprint for 20 seconds.
Do this type of High Intensity cardio for 15-20 minutes, and call it a session.
You can do this with running/ sprints, or actual exercises, such as leg press, leg extensions or squats on the smith machine too. It’s about increasing your aerobic and anaerobic capacity whilst burning more fat and sparing more muscle.
Heart Rate Focused Cardio
This is more traditional cardio exercise, but really still keeps an eye on heart rate. Both methods require a heart rate monitor to properly execute the various methods. They’re now very affordable and something that everyone should have.
Heart rate focused cardio usually means training within a target heart rate zone for maximum fat burning. But that is a very subjective concept, remember, because HIC is great at fat burning – maybe the best at it – and it’s very focused on shifting between anaerobic and aerobic. So is this, but it’s less bombastic and more focused for longer periods of time.
Try pedaling, stepping or striding for 5 minutes at a lower rate, such as 140bpm, then boost it up for 10 minutes in the 165bpm range, and alternate that with sprints in between up to 185bpm, then back into the fat burning 165bpm zone. Do this for at least 30-45 minutes.
Sprints on the a Track
Some fitness athletes use actual sprinting to accomplish fat burning and maintain muscle mass. It’s a good choice.
Start off by stretching really well. Do split leg stretches standing and seated, and hurdle stretches, as well as lower back stretches, and upper body/ torso twists. Jog a little to warm up the legs. Also do calf stretches against a wall.
After warm ups, sprint 50 yards, and then walk 50 yards, and repeat 5 times. Then sprint 75 to 100 yards and walk the same, and repeat 2-3 times. Go back to 50’s for a few intervals, and then jog the quarter mile loop to quit.
A Note About Diet and Cardio:
It used to be that bodybuilders would diet low fat and do a ton of cardio. But remember, now that diets contain fewer starchy carbs, and more good fats, you’ll need to do less cardio. But kicking up the intensity is crucial to fat burning to maximize those shorter duration sessions.
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