I dislike cardio as much as anyone.
I’d much rather walk past the treadmill and straight to the weight room where I can proceed to lift things up and put them down.
Cardio — especially slow, steady state cardio — is boring, slow, and leaves your brain with nothing to occupy itself with besides how much it hates cardio.
To top it off, a good cardio session only burns a 3-5 hundred calories. When it comes to losing weight or getting lean, simply NOT eating those few hundred calories is a lot easier than slugging it out on an exercise bike for half an hour.
Enter the anti-cardio trend to save us from the monotony of the hamster wheel.
Who needs it? Lifting weights burns calories, boosts your metabolism, and makes you look like a Greek God(ess). Managing your diet dictates how lean you ultimately become.
It sounds like lifting weights and sound nutrition is all you really need to look amazing.
It’s true. It is all you need.
But there’s a crack in the foundation that this idea is based on.
The thought that you don’t need cardio, only strength training and diet, is based on an idea that humans are cold, mechanical cyborgs who will carry out the task that they’re programmed to do.
While our iphones will soon be planted into our brains making us programmable cyborgs, we aren’t quite there yet.
This means dealing with people and their fitness is anything but cold and mechanical.
It’s mushy, emotional, irrational and deals with more factors than a first generation cyborg will be programmed to comprehend.
This is the same reason why simply gtracking calorie and macronutient goals only works for 1% of the population (this 1% may be cyborgs, I’m not sure).
It isn’t as simple as calories in, calories out, eat this, don’t eat that.
For example, you know that beer isn’t helping out your ‘lean body’ situation. You also know that furiously eating that entire sleeve of Oreo’s after work isn’t making your workout any more productive.
But you do it anyway. Because you’re a person with real emotions and stress, not a programmable Apple brand cyborg (yet).
This stress you experience on a daily basis brings us back to cardio.
How you feel dictates what you do.
If you feel stressed, you drink the wine or eat the cookies. If you feel social pressure and want to fit in, you order the quesadillas instead of the salad with chicken. If you feel overwhelmed you eat the fastest and easiest thing in the house.
It’s never as simple as saying “follow this meal plan”.
For this same reason, it’s not as simple as saying you don’t need cardio since it only burns ‘x’ amount of calories.
While I have a never ending love affair with lifting weights, nothing relieves stress like low intensity steady state cardio.
Cardio is like meditation in motion. You’re forced to breathe long, deep and deliberate breaths. Your deep breathing and rhythmic movement helps break up the stored anxiety and holding patterns you’ve developed in your body.
It also interrupts the mental feedback loop of anxiety and regulates the neurotransmitters which are targeted by antidepressants. This boosts your mood and improves self esteem.(source)
What this means for you is a greater capacity to tackle everything in your life. This includes food choices, social pressure, stress and even your strength workouts.
Better food choices and greater capacity for your strength workouts equals a better body.
Less stress, happier moods and reduced anxiety means a better life.
You don’t need to become a marathoner to enjoy these benefits either. Just 1–2 hours of cardio per week will work like a charm.
If you’re training to look good, strength training and nutrition will always be the cornerstone of your plan. But adding in some cardio will greatly improve your capacity to handle stress like a champion, make great food choices in the face of adversity, and ramp up your strength workouts.
As an added bonus you might not get as mad when someone cuts you off without using their turn signal.
Although the ability to execute a fitness plan like a cyborg would be nice, it just doesn’t work that way.
Managing stress and anxiety is a major key when it comes to mastering yourself and creating the body you want.
Cardio can offer you the zen space you need to improve your life. Those few hundred burned calories are a nice bonus.
The anti- cardio trend can go away now.
Written by Mitch Heaslip