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Category Archives: Cardio

What You WANT VS What You NEED When it Comes to Fitness

So, Labor Day Weekend is officially over and I know the last thing anyone would WANT to do is hit the gym. But… The longer you don’t exercise, the worse it’s going to be when you finally do. So, you must go do what you don’t want to this week.

Hate doing cardio? Which is worse, not being the happiest person in the world for a 3 mile jog or cringing when you see tagged pictures of yourself on Facebook?

Don’t like doing push-ups? You will once you can actually maneuver your own body weight.

I see people not wanting to do the things that would give them the most benefits all the time. They stick to the exercises they like most (or hate the least) and thus don’t get the benefits they really need. If you don’t like a type of exercise, it’s probably because you’re struggling with something you obviously have to work on. An example…

Most of my female clients hate lifting weights and prefer to only do cardio, BUT the only remedy for poor strength is weight resistance training. Plus, I’ve already talked about how strength training actually helps women lose weight.

And of course, most of my guy clients hate doing anything cardio-related and would laugh at me if I suggested yoga. BUT in order to keep their heart healthy and their joints flexible, you better believe they do both!

I personally only ENJOY lifting weights. I really have to be in a very particular mood to WANT to go for a run or to head to the Bikram Yoga studio, but I do cardio AND yoga as much as I can to make sure my heart stays healthy and I gain (rather than lose) flexibility as I get older.

Today is a great example of this. The last thing in the world I wanted to do on my last day off from a 3-day weekend was walk a mile in 80 degree/brutally humid weather to the Lower East Side Bikram studio. But I like to practice what I preach so off to the LES I went to practice yoga with my girlfriend.

Walking past all the people drinking and having fun in the LES bars enjoying their Monday off, with the sun in our eyes, and the humidity painting pit stains on us, we went from being outside in the hot, muggy weather, to the sauna-like Bikram studio.

In case you aren’t familiar with Bikram, it’s a 90 minute yoga class that takes place in a 105 degree room. Don’t be turned off though, it’s actually helped me drastically with flexibility and overall mental chillness. It’s my personal favorite type of yoga, but I simply was not in the mood for this today.

About 5 seconds into class I wanted to scream at the teacher/kill myself. I was absolutely hating every second in this cauldron of sweaty heat.

At one point I glanced over at the thermostat and it read 128 degrees!

WHAT!?!?!?!?!? $@&#*!

That’s not fair! I signed up for a 105 degree Bikram class!

I also couldn’t help but notice how much my girlfriend was enjoying watching me suffer! I made eye contact with her while she shot me a look that said “This is payback for making me hold those stupid side planks for 30 seconds longer than you said I would have to.”

I had flashbacks of some of my clients giving me the look of death when I told them to do 5 more reps than the original number of reps I had told them to do for a given exercise. Wow, they would get a real kick out of this.

Long story short… the 90 minutes felt like 900 minutes. BUT afterwards I felt like a million bucks and my girlfriend and I actually walked an additional 5 miles around the city since we were high off endorphins/zenned out and felt like getting some steady state cardio in before our work week started.

See? I hate doing things that aren’t easy too, but I do them not because I WANT to but because I know I HAVE to!

Enjoy your 4 day work week people and remember… get back to the gym pronto!

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When and How to do Cardio

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Your heart has been working since the second you were born, and will be working hard until the day you die. So, the least we can do is give your heart an easier job to do by strengthening it!

 

If you don’t care about your heart, at least do cardio for the psychological benefits! Once your endorphins get released in your brain, you might not be so stressed out or depressed for the rest of the day! “Runner’s high” is real, and it is the cheapest/most legal high I think a person can achieve in this day and age. So let’s all get really REALLY high and live a happier and healthy life starting RIGHT NOW!

WHEN to do Cardio!

Cardio is wonderful, except when you do it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Your body needs carbs to target body fat during cardiovascular exercise, so if you run a mile first thing in the morning when all of your glycogen stores are empty you “run” (no pun intended) the risk of eating away at hard-earned muscle tissue during that cardiovascular exercise session!

I’m not a huge fan of cardio at night. I wouldn’t get my heart rate up to about 90 percent of my VO2 Max an hour before bed for two reasons.

1. I’m going to bed soon, I don’t want my heart racing when my head hits the pillow.
2. I (and you) need to eat something immediately after a cardio session, and I (you too) definitely don’t want to eat something right before bed.

BUT…

I understand time is a luxury, and if you are an average New Yorker who gets off work at 10pm after a 17 hour day, it’s not the worst thing in the world to do a little cardio at night. As long as it gets done 3 times a week.

Cardio BEFORE you hit the weights (especially with me) is no good either! Do you really want to deplete carbohydrates that your body has stored up before you meet me for a vigorous strength training program? Don’t do it! You need the energy from carbs to lift!

Nothing makes me happier than when I ask my clients what they are doing immediately after our session and they respond with: “Gee, I guess I have to do cardio now because that’s what you’re making me do.” Just thinking about it makes my heart soar. Here’s why…

If you expend lots of energy training with weights you burn not only calories, but your storage’s of carbs, so then the only thing left to burn during cardiovascular exercise is annoying body fat! Don’t make it a long cardio session though. 30 minutes worth of approximately 60-70 percent of your VO2 Max would be better.

VO2 MAX FORMULA:

220 – (age) – (Resting Heart rate) X .70 + (RHR) = YOUR TARGET HEART RATE FOR 30 MINUTES AFTER I WORK YOU OUT

Your VO2 MAX is basically a fancy way of figuring out how well your body utilizes oxygen during cardiovascular exercise.

HOW to do Cardio!

My skin is crawling at the sight of seeing all of these people at the gym half assing it on the treadmill for 30 minutes while they read the Wall Street Journal, and then run to the nearest Burger King for “dinner.” Yes, you have just burned 47 calories, and your heart thanks you for that, but if you think you are going to lose weight just doing that think again!

Doing anything cardio wise is very beneficial for your heart, but if you REALLY want to lose body fat, you either have to do one solid hour of Steady State Cardio, OR interval Training.

Steady State Cardio: Typically done for one hour, NOT including a 3 minute warm up, and 3 minute cool down at approximately 50-60 percent of your VO2 Max. This is time-consuming, so make sure you make a killer playlist on your iPod before hopping on whatever piece of cardio equipment for about 60 minutes.

I prescribe Steady State Cardio to my beginner clients, who really can’t handle High Intensity Interval Training just yet because they don’t have the aerobic capacity to do so. Besides beginners, I also prescribe this very rarely to my bodybuilding clients. If you are bodybuilder, typically with a fast metabolism, you want to make sure you’re cardio isn’t THAT strenuous, otherwise you may eat into your muscles while doing cardio immediately after a weight training session. That, by the way is a long shot. If you load up on carbs before a cardiovascular session, you are almost guaranteed NOT to harm your muscle mass. But, for example, I had a client named Brent who had a resting heart rate of 100 BPM (Beats Per Minute) his whole life and pretty much could eat an entire Sizzlers under the table and not gain a pound. Brent, who by the way was 19 when I met him (thankfully his heart had youth on his side) was a candidate for Solid State Cardio.

Here is an example of a Solid State Cardio program for a treadmill:

Incline: 10-15
Speed 3-3.5mph
Time: 60 minutes

Interval Training –  Warm up for about 3 minutes THEN Walk for a minute, run for a minute, walk for a minute, run for a minute. Give me 30 minutes of this and then a 3 to 5 minute cool down before you get off your machine. 30 minutes and you’re gone! Thanks for coming! You just did an equal if not greater amount of work in 30 minutes worth of Interval Training than an hour of Solid State Cardio. That’s pretty cool right?

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