Wondering when to do cardio?
In our previous article, we talked about why and how to do cardio, in case you have never integrated it within you training plan.
For this article however, we’ll answer another important question, that sparks a lot of misconceptions- When to do cardio?
In the article on Energy systems of the body, we learned that the aerobic energy system (used during cardio), uses muscle and liver glycogen as its main sources of fuel.
Knowing this, we can logically conclude that doing extensive cardio BEFORE your weight training session won’t be optimal.
It is recommended to not get depleted of muscle energy and do your cardio after the strength workout, or on a day off.
It would be fair to say we should avoid cardio on a full stomach, right after a big meal.
How to lose fat with cardio
If someone told you that cardio is mandatory for weight loss, well, it really isn’t.
You can lose fat with no cardio whatsoever, but it certainly is a good tool to use when it comes to creating a bigger energy expenditure.
So, how do we lose fat with cardio? Well, just like with a diet – We create a caloric deficit.
Fasted vs. Fed cardio
Many personal trainers and coaches claim that fasted cardio leads to better fat loss.
The premise? Well, our glycogen levels are at their lowest when we wake up and if we do cardio before we eat, the body will be able to tap into the fat storages for energy! Yay!
Well… Sounds promising but it doesn’t really lead to a better fat loss overall.
At equal caloric deficits, fasted cardio is in no way superior to fed cardio.
On top of that, if you’re fed and you have energy, you will be able to put in more effort and will therefore burn more calories.
Which one should you pick?
Both have their benefits, but when it comes to the end result, it is pretty much the same, given that your energy intake is the same.
Just pick the one which you can adhere to!
If you feel better waking up at 6 AM for your fasted cardio, rather than jogging after work at 6 PM, then go ahead!
But I hate running!
Yes, we’re pitching cardio. Cardio is movement and movement is life, BUT… Some people just hate running.
If that’s the case with you, there are MANY other options for you to pick from.
- Rope jumping
Besides being a good conditioning exercise, rope jumping improves the synchronization between our limbs.
Overall, when compared to running, rope jumping just provides us with a good flow of movement, as it is fun, engaging and pretty impressive-looking once you are able to do tricks.
You can apply the guidelines from our previous article with rope jumping!
Instead of increasing the number of laps and later on improving your time, like you would in running, just increase the time spent rope jumping, as well as the speed.
Besides being a good workout for the heart and lungs, swimming engages pretty much the whole musculature.
On top of that, swimming does not involve contact with hard surfaces, which is why it is a form of low-impact cardio, good for heavier people or people with joint issues.
If you live at a place that has no running tracks and just asphalt, cycling is your best choice.
Riding a bike is a good form of cardio that is sparing on the joints just like swiming.
Building muscle with cardio
Not only does cardio improve the heart and lungs’ function, but it can also build muscle.
And I don’t mean the improved blood flow to the working muscle that leads to a passive hypertrophy support.
I mean DIRECT muscle building with cardio exercises.
If you’ve managed to follow up with the training theory we’re giving you, you will know what this is all about.
We’re talking SPRINTS!
Yes, running in short bursts will trigger the fast-twitch muscle fibers and make them GROW!
If you’ve seen how sprinters look, compared to marathoners, you know!
By all parameters, sprints are a muscle building exercise – They are an anaerobic, short-burst, explosive movement, that shapes the legs like no other exercise in the gym!
Give them a shot.
Check out Layne Norton’s video on fasted cardio!