“Hello my friend, and welcome to Chris’s cardio bazaar! I’m Chris, and I’ll be leading you on this journey today. We have all the cardio you could ever want. Long cardio, short cardio, running, rowing, cardio with ropes. We even have cardio on stationary bikes with loud techno music!”
“And all of it can help you lose fat! “Come, let me take you through the market and we can go over the best option for you…”
Your guide, slight in stature and sort of… skinny fat, heaps praise upon the wondrous machines he guarantees will help you lose fat.
Yet something is wrong. Like he is hiding something. You’ve tried these methods before and none of them really worked. You’ve spent hours on the elliptical and it didn’t do a whole lot. You sweated a lot, burned a lot of calories but didn’t make much progress.
Beginning to get bored of Chris’s diatribe, you begin to look around. When suddenly…
Into the Cardio Cave of Wonders
A dusty, worn out looking lamp catches your eye.
“Don’t touch that!”, yells your guide.
Obviously, you pick it up. Something is written on it, so you rub the dust off the side with your sleeve. Suddenly everything goes quiet. You look up at your charming guide. He seems frozen in time. His eyes stretched wide. Not out of fear, but out of expectation, as if he is waiting for…
*poof* He vanishes and all goes dark around you…
Dust swirls in bright and vibrant colors. Suddenly, a large mound of sand, with the countenance of a tiger, swallows you whole. For a brief second, everything is pitch black and silent. You can taste the sand in your mouth, your heart beats rapidly and you feel the icy metal of the lamp in your left hand.
Suddenly there is a loud clap, accompanied by a blinding blue flash, as if a bolt of lightning struck at your feet. The lamp jumps out of your hand. Thick smoke pours out of it. A large shape begins to materialize out of the smoke and you notice its face has striking resemblance to the bazaar guide.
The face is the only thing that is similar to the guide. This… thing… now fully materialized looks more akin to a Greek god than the plump bazaar guide. Suddenly it turns on you. His uncanny beauty and sparkling smile freeze you in place as he speaks.
“Greetings, puny human. I am Chris, your Cardio Genie and I will teach you all you need to know about how to use cardio to lose weight!”
The Tools at Your Disposal
The Genie continues:
“I know what you are thinking and no, I will not grant you wishes. Beach bodies aren’t built on wishes. Also, unlike most Genies, I am kind of a dick. What I will do for you is teach you the different methods you can use to achieve your goals. From there you can make the choice which will grant your wish to get lean.”
You need help and we are not leaving this cave until you get what you came for.
As you saw in the bazaar, there are a number of “cardio” options.
One of the most prevalent options is steady state cardio. Also known as LISS, (Low-Intensity Steady State) you normally see this performed on treadmills or stationary bikes.
The main drawback of LISS is how long it takes. You need to walk for 45 minutes before you get any kind of benefit out of it. While it’s not the villain of cardio it’s made out to be, here are some faster and more effective methods to get you where you are going.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
This is the cardio you’ve been hearing a lot about. There’s a reason for that. It is highly effective and can be done less than half the time of a normal LISS session.
Not only does HIIT take less time, but it helps you burn more fat because of an effect known as EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption). This effect elevates your metabolism for up to 48 hours after. Do HIIT on Monday and you’ll be burning extra calories all the way to Wednesday!
One of the best things about HIIT is that it’s so adaptable. You can do it running, you can do it rowing, you can do it on a stationary bike, you can flip tires, you can use battle ropes… you can pretty much use anything. Just do a short, really intense period of work and follow it with a longer period of active rest.
Here is an example of a HIIT workout to get you started:
Do 20 seconds of max-effort sprints followed by 40 seconds of light jogging. Repeat this duo 12 times.
Barbell Complexes (or Lift Weights Really Fast)
Now here we have the epitome of “move weights fast” (also known as metabolic resistance training) for cardio. Barbell complexes are essentially weight training circuits where you don’t set the barbell down until you are finished with all the exercises.
You go from one exercise to the other, and you don’t stop until you are finished with everything and you have become a beautiful sweat angel on the ground.
The best part? When programmed correctly, they are absolutely amazing for fat loss. The key phrase there is “programmed correctly.” It’s very easy to string a bunch of exercises together, but to get the best bang for your buck, you need to do it in the right order.
There are a ton of different way you can put a barbell complex together. Your best bet is to choose the exercise order from high skill (like cleans and snatches) to low skill (like a bent over row or romanian deadlift). Choose a weight that makes your weakest lift challenging for 10-12 reps and then bang out the exercises back to back.
Try this beginner complex out:
- Power Cleans
- Front Squats
- Push Presses
- Bent Over Rows
- Romanian Deadlifts
The push presses will be your weakest lift here. Choose a weight you can do 12 times for it. Use that weight for each exercise. Perform 6 reps of each exercise without resting or setting down the barbell. After that, rest for a bit then do each exercise for 5 reps. Take a shorter rest then do each for 4, and so on until you finish with 1 rep for each.
Note: if your push press weight is making the complex too easy you can do two things. You can add reps to the other exercises or add weight and drop the push press reps by half.
Now my young friend, we come to one of the more interesting tools of the trade. A cannonball with a handle welded on. The Russians call them “Kettlebells”… the translation of which has been lost to us throughout the ages. These balls of iron are amazing tools for fat loss. Creative types will tell you the many different exercises you can do with these guys.
That’s not why you’re here. You’re here to drop slabs of fat and the most effective way to do that is also the simplest. Swing. Swing that sucker like it’s the only thing standing between you and your leanest physique ever… because it is.
Swing. Swing that sucker like you’re Miley Cyrus on the baddest damn wrecking ball you’ve ever seen!
Here is something to get you to start busting down those fat loss walls:
Set a timer for 30 seconds. Choose a weight you can swing 15 times. Every 30 seconds do 10 swings. Your rest time is what you have remaining, of that 30 seconds, once your swings are complete. Repeat every 30 seconds for 10 minutes.
Have you ever seen a fat sprinter? A skinny one? I didn’t think so. There must be something to this whole sprinting thing. Sprinting has been the standard in fat loss since humans cared about being really, really, ridiculously good looking. If it’s not broke don’t fix it, right?
Sprints continue to be one of the best vehicles of fat loss in the game. They are demanding, effective, and brutal. To make sprints even more effective, try hill sprints. Not only
do they melt fat like butter are they more metabolic, they are also much safer… and they’ll make your butt look better.
That’s like 3 wins in one! Go find your local hill and try this:
Sprint all out on the way up. Walk down to starting position. Repeat until your body tells you to stop. Trust me… you’ll know when that is!
Sled (aka the Prowler)
And here we have the sled. Awkward, unwieldy, tucked away in a corner… out of the view of the shinier cardio devices. Like me in 6th grade.
Underneath that calm, rusty exterior lies a beast. Ready to obliterate your fat.
Sleds are not complicated. You can either push them or pull them. While simple, it’s a powerful device with just one purpose – to make you better. The sled makes you work for it. After all, it won’t push itself. That effort does not go to waste and it rewards you by stripping away fat.
There are two ways I like to use the sled. Load it up with a lot of weight and push, or use a lighter weight and push it really fast. Here is a sample workout to tackle:
Load up sled with your bodyweight. Push sled for 50 feet. Rest for 30 seconds. Repeat 6 times.
May the sweat angels be plenty!
These examples are just a few effective ways to utilize cardio to create the results you want. The bottom line is…
Do the Stuff You Suck At!
The absolute best cardio that you can do is the stuff you hate. You hate it precisely because your body is inefficient at it. Inefficiency = more calories used. More calories used + dialed in nutrition + maths = your shredded summer body.
If you hate swinging kettlebells because they’re hard, do more swings. Have a new hatred for complexes because you tried out the one above? Do more of them. Performing the stuff you suck at is a quick ticket to shredding off pounds of fat.
As good as cardio is though…
Nothing Beats a Great Diet
Absolutely nothing! You can buy all the magical lamps you want but the only thing that will truly polish that diamond in the rough is a dialed in nutrition plan.
Losing fat effectively (without losing a bunch of muscle mass) and achieving that sexy body is obtained with an excellent diet plan. With nutrition dialed in, the right cardio plan with a heavy dose of strength training will bust open those fat loss blockades your body has been throwing your way.”
Wrapping It Up
Your genie, nay… your friend smiles at you and offers you one last piece of advice:
“It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this and let me be your guide.”
Swiftly, the cave beings to crumble. You fear for your life, but as you look at the genie, he flashes a soothing smile your way. In your heart of hearts you know you will be safe and you calmly wait for upheaval to conclude.
The cave’s decay becomes ever more violent and loud. The noise is deafening, yet it builds louder… louDER… LOUDER. You cover your ears in an attempt to block out the noise.
Suddenly, silence. Once again, everything around you is pitch black. All you hear is your heartbeat, thump… thump… thump. You calmly bring its tempo under control.
Just as you become accustomed to the darkness, a blinding flash assaults your senses. It is so bright and vibrant, it feels like it will be the last thing you ever see. Thankfully, it is over as quickly as it started.
Your vision returns to normal and you realize you are back in the bazaar. Or the place that used to be a bazaar. Nothing is here now. The area is desolate. You begin to walk back to the nearest town when your foot strikes a metallic object.
The lamp! You reach down to touch it. You don’t pick it up, this time, you know it is meant for the next lost soul. One who needs a little knowledge and just a push the right direction.
You smile, leave the lamp and confidently walk away. The knowledge you have gained today will bring you to your goal. A strange sense of certainty fills your body as you know you will achieve everything you dreamed for.
Soon all that is left are your footsteps in the sand. Quickly, even those are swept away by the wind. All that is left is a lamp, jutting meekly out of the sand. Waiting for the next wanderer who needs guidance.
Until next time, diamond in the rough!