We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Yesterday we had some agreement and some disagreement on the topic of the value or the role of "Long, slow, " aka aerobic, cardio workouts in a fitness or conditioning program.
My Conditioning program, which I hope to continue until something knocks me out of the ring, includes some pure cardio but it is a balanced and varied program designed to address all of the aspects of physical fitness.
What's the rationale, and what's that program? (Somewhat lengthy post below) -
Basics of physical fitness
- Nutrition. A nutrition plan to get up or down to your fighting weight. For most Americans, unfortunately, it entails fat loss. Fat loss is 99% nutritional. Exercise doesn't work for that no matter what anybody says. On the other side of it, if you are relatively skinny or a weakling like me who can hike 10 miles easily over hill and dale but can't deadlift 3 reps of 300#, my trainer claims he can give me another 6-10 lbs of muscle if I will eat as he directs me in my overall conditioning program. I'm sure he is right, but it's more food than I can handle. That much food either sickens me or makes me lazy. Too much for comfort.
- Strength. The only efficient way to build strength is to move weights, and I don't mean 10# hand weights. I mean heavy. Since muscle atrophies with age, you have to move weight for bone and muscle maintenance. Moving plain body weight is good calisthenics but not strength-building. I do my powerlifting with my trainer because we push it where I need a coach and spotter because I am no longer 25 years old. On my weight training days, he likes to calculate the total lbs I have moved in an hour of various weight exercises. That's our metric. It gets into the thousands of lbs and we try to raise the number over time. He keeps track of it.
- Mental training. It's been remarkable to me how much brain discipline is required to push to the limit in a daily program. There is always a mental war: "I don't feel like it" or "That's enough for me", "I'm tired" vs. "Go go hi ho" and "I can do more." Sticking to a rigorous program trains the mind to stick to hard things. I can always use more mental discipline training.
- Cardio. Pure "Cardio" is about aerobic and anaerobic endurance and cardiac efficiency. To train your heart, it needs to pound as hard as it can and almost as fast as it can at anaerobic conditions for brief periods. That is heart exercise, but people often use "cardio" to refer not to heart exercise but just to plain boring endurance exercises with no cardiac challenge. Some people term it "fat burning" but that's a joke. Three hrs on an elliptical or swimming laps burns the equivalent of one bagel, one donut, or one serving of disgusting brown rice.
- Athleticism. Athleticism entails power, speed, agility, acceleration, deceleration, balance, endurance, etc. All good things for life. In a sense, athleticism is what we all want from fitness in life: to be able to handle whatever physical situations and opportunities life presents us with - and to look good.
So...the weekly program my genius trainer and I have worked out for my conditioning at this point in the journey looks like this:
- Do my best to eat as much carbs, protein, etc. as my trainer wants me to, to stay ahead of my program. I try my best, but I just can't do it yet. He wants 5 meals/day. Are you kidding me? Yuk. Says I am still underweight despite gaining 10+ lbs over past 2 years (while losing all my fat so it's probably really a net 5# gain, or 10-12# gain in muscle).
- 2 hours of weight-training, mostly powerlifting + some dumbells and machines, usually with some pliometrics at the end. One day upper body, one day lower body. Besides stressing the heck out of your muscles, moving weights is anaerobic cardio also. That's why you often feel faint after a set of deadlifts or bench presses. We use various types of planks as recovery/rests.
- 1 hr of "pure cardio" - I aim for the 1-minute anaerobic + 3 min. slower, recovery interval (HIIT) training, whether on rower, treadmill, stair machine, ski machine, or elliptical. I would sometimes like to do the same with swim sprints but I don't have a pool. Best to vary what you use for this. Using stair machine is cool because you actually build leg strength too unlike other forms of cardio. I think the long slow, aka aerobic, exercise is good for the decondtioned or heart-impaired to whatever extent their doctors suggest but it won't toughen up the otherwise ordinary person.
- 1 hr. Cross-training group class. This fun group of all ages but high energy people combines calisthenics and athleticism-training with non-stop cardio, some HIIT and some plain endurance, pliometrics, and balance challenges. This class kicks my butt without using any heavy weights at all. Just kettlebells, vipers, and hand weights.
- 1 hr. mostly calisthenics on my own, using the calis routines my trainer has prescribed for me. Also, some accessory strength things like curls, declined pulls, rows, and pushups (100). This is the hour I enjoy the most because I keep varying the routines. Lots of jump rope and mountain-climbers. I have posted the calis routines I use, in the past.
- 1 hr. random stuff I missed during the week if I want, or another athleticism group class if it fits my schedule. It's a good idea to move with intention and hard effort 6 hrs/wk with the Sabbath as day of rest. God was right about that as He was about so many other things, but I find it difficult to have a day without hard physical effort. However pleasant, a nice walk doesn't do anything for me and leaves me hungry for effort. Relaxing isn't in my blood/
When you say "pure cardio" and the ineffectiveness, are you referring to steady state cardio? For example someone gets on elliptical, treadmill or bike and does the same pace for an hour? I disagreed yesterday( without posting), but that is because my "pure cardio" is always a form of interval training. Mine is running at different speeds, inclines, etc. for a long period. I never do "steady pace", which is why I have disagreed in the past. Also, I end this as exhausted as the cross training class. Just wondering if I am understanding your post correctly. Thanks