It may be the one type of exercise dreaded most of all…cardio. You hear it over and over again, ‘I gotta get my cardio in…' In my home gym (or if you prefer ‘fitness center') the cardio equipment is upstairs on a (large) loft that overlooks the weight equipment. So folks here say it this way, ‘I gotta go ‘upstairs'.'
No matter how it's said most people don't like it. Well, the fact is its usually boring. Excruciatingly boring. That's why more modern fitness centers have TVs to watch, or even provide free magazines (you know…the ones showing you all the ‘secrets' to looking like Mr. or Ms. Super-Space-Commander-Hard-Body) to read.
But the truth is, it does NOT have to be this way. You can decide (actually you have already decided…most just don't know it) how effective, and exciting your cardio workout will be.
Let's start out with what you want to accomplish. Most do cardio to burn calories, and, as a result, burn off excess body fat. Great, now how to best accomplish getting down a few inches without spending HOURS on the elliptical.
If fat burning is your primary reason for picking cardio there is no better time than doing your cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Your blood sugar is at its lowest point so the body turns to burning fat for fuel. Nice.
However, if you aren't a morning person don't despair. If you combine your resistance training and cardio in the same session, do your resistance training first. Your glycogen (carbohydrates stored in the muscle and liver) will be depleted after your weight training because it uses glycogen first for muscle fuel. Then your body turns to your fat stores for energy during your cardio.
Another way to mimic the morning routine (almost as well) is to get your cardio in on an empty stomach. Remember from an earlier chapter, an empty stomach is defined as 2 hours after you last meal and 1 hour before your next. So if you get to the gym at 5:45 PM just make sure you don't eat anything after 3:30 PM. Even better, make sure your mid-afternoon snack is high in protein because then your metabolism goes into overdrive to digest the protein without having any carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen.
Even though this book is about you learning how to keep your gym time to a minimum, I would not be fair to you if I failed to mention 2 cardio sessions a day. Why? Because some of us have a harder time than others in getting our body fat to acceptable levels. If that's you, and you can find the time, 2 cardio sessions of 30-45 minutes each can really accelerate the fat burn. In fact when I have significant amounts of fat to lose I do 2 cardio sessions daily until my goal was reached. Only then do I back off to 1 session a day.
Copyright 2006 J Lance Curtis