T Nation

Cardio Confusion

First off, if this has already been addressed somewhere, I apologize for re-addressing it, but I searched around and didn’t see it so here goes.

I am currently on a quest to get ripped. I have been able to see my upper abs for some time now, but the lower ones are still buried under fat. I?m lifting 5 times a week, eating pretty clean, and doing cardio 5-6 times a week. Here?s something I can?t figure out though.

I have read from multiple sources that for optimal fat loss it is best to do cardio at a lower target heart rate than you would do for heart health and cardio fitness. I can see how this would make sense since different levels of physical exertion require different fuel sources from the body (i.e. fat, carbs, etc.), and that makes sense.

However, exercising at a higher target HR burns more calories and therefore I am assuming it also boosts your metabolism for a longer period of time. That?s a good thing for losing weight, right? So why stick to a lower target HR if you can burn more calories in the same amount of time and boost your metabolic rate? Do you burn more muscle at a higher HR? Should I stick to slower cardio sessions, higher ones, or a mixture between the two?

Any insight into this issue would be greatly appreciated.

You have hit the nail on the head with your assumptions. I personally favour HIIT or intervals over LSD (long slow duration).
Muscle wastage or catabolism is often banded about as the main reason many bodybuilders use long slow duration cardio, however my experience of this is minimal if none at all.
I think there real reason is that most people do not know how to construct intervals to train energy systems or for fat loss.

JMO.

[quote]Dan Thompson wrote:
First off, if this has already been addressed somewhere, I apologize for re-addressing it, but I searched around and didn’t see it so here goes.

I am currently on a quest to get ripped. I have been able to see my upper abs for some time now, but the lower ones are still buried under fat. I?m lifting 5 times a week, eating pretty clean, and doing cardio 5-6 times a week. Here?s something I can?t figure out though.

I have read from multiple sources that for optimal fat loss it is best to do cardio at a lower target heart rate than you would do for heart health and cardio fitness. I can see how this would make sense since different levels of physical exertion require different fuel sources from the body (i.e. fat, carbs, etc.), and that makes sense.

However, exercising at a higher target HR burns more calories and therefore I am assuming it also boosts your metabolism for a longer period of time. That?s a good thing for losing weight, right? So why stick to a lower target HR if you can burn more calories in the same amount of time and boost your metabolic rate? Do you burn more muscle at a higher HR? Should I stick to slower cardio sessions, higher ones, or a mixture between the two?

Any insight into this issue would be greatly appreciated.[/quote]

Hey Dan,

Look up HIIT Cardio Training (or High Intensity Interval Training). To do this type of training, you can basically use a bike, elliptical, treadmill, or whatever you want (depending on what you feel more comfortable with).

The workout involves short periods of maximal effort, followed by short periods of submaximal effort. For instance, you could get on an elliptical (usually my offseason preference because it involves the whole body and is easy on the joints) and sprint as hard as you can at a resistance that keeps you in the 80-100 rpm range for say, 30 sec. Once that 30 sec. is over, you take the resistance down and go for an additional 30 sec. at say, 50-70 rpm (sort of a recovery period). Repeat for 15-20 minutes.

The beauty of this type of training is variance and time effectiveness. By variance I mean that you can easily and effectively build up to new levels of fitness each time by changing it up; increasing the sprint times, the resistance, the overall time, etc.

Time effectiveness is pretty obvious. Instead of doing slow paced cardio for 45min to an hour, you can do HIIT cardio for 15-20 minutes and still get the same benefits, if not better.

Think of it this way. Do you burn more calories walkimg a mile, jogging a mile, or running a mile?

They are all the same. It takes more-or-less the same amount of calories because regardless of how you get there, you are still going a mile. If you walk, it may take you 30 minutes, if you jog, 15 minutes, if you run, 5 minutes. By running (or doing it faster) you are simply completing it in a much shorter period of time. Not to mention the heightened rate of metabolism that will exist throughout the remainder of the day due to the result of the higher intensity of your training.

Hope that helps to point you in the right direction.

Yes, Dr. Tabata’s reseaerch bears this out leading him to formulate the “tabata protocol”, 20 seconds max effort, 10 seconds rest for 8 sets. Can’t get much shorter than that. The actual time periods are not set in stone which is why HIIT produces similar results.

[quote]uberswank wrote:
Yes, Dr. Tabata’s reseaerch bears this out leading him to formulate the “tabata protocol”, 20 seconds max effort, 10 seconds rest for 8 sets. Can’t get much shorter than that. The actual time periods are not set in stone which is why HIIT produces similar results. [/quote]

There are specifics to do with this protocol that are hard to adhere to though - for instance it was done on a bike (which doesnt indicate other forms of excercising would be as effective), and also 170% of the patients VO2 max was used.
If you can replicate those requirements then great but there are other intervals set ups that are just as usefull imo - nevertheless, tabata’s are a good tool to utilise.

JMO - mick.

Hey guys,
Thanks for the advice. I ran a search for HIIT as suggested and found a lot of good stuff to think over. I’ve got a pretty good idea of how to incorporate this into my program now and hopefully end up where I want to be.

Thanks again.

I think 400 meter intervals are an excellent tool for fat loss. They are brutal, and really useful at anytime to help get into good anerobic shape. They also improve aerobic capacity depending on the number of intervals and rest period in between. Thib recommends them as well, and I think there’s an article of his where he details a program floating around somewhere.

Pretty sure this is the article you are talking about.

http://www.T-Nation.com/findArticle.do?article=251run2