The Truth About Cardio

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Summer is here, Fiesta weekend is around the corner, and we’re all scrambling to get that summer bod in shape. But where to begin? Dropping lbs quick means hitting that pavement, treadmill, elliptical, or treadmill for at least an hour right? Lots of time spent doing cardio is bound to drop the pounds, or is it? Well the answer is yes, and no. These long cardio sessions will help you to drop some weight but there are some down sides.

Now, before I go on I want to state for the record that this article is not written to discourage anyone from starting, or continuing, to run or do other endurance aerobic activities. These types of activities have many incredible benefits including increases in cardiovascular heath, lower blood pressure, and stress relief (health.harvard.edu) Nothing wrong with that! That being said, there’s always a down side.

The first down side is that endurance running takes a serious time commitment. If you’re just starting out even a 5k distance can take close to an hour or more. You will slowly get quicker but again, it takes time. Time that could be spent at the beach with your new beach bod!

That leads us to the second down side of long cardio sessions. When you’re running, jogging, bicycling, or jazzercise-ing for long periods of time you are not only burning fat but also muscle. Endurance athletes train a particular type of muscle call slow twitch muscle or type 1 muscle. This type of muscle is dense with mitochondria which allow the muscle to use oxygen as fuel. Fast twitch muscle however, cannot create a large amount of force. So if you’re trying to build strength (which is a really good idea) your endurance training is going to be fighting against your strength training.

Lastly, we have to consider the caloric after effect of our exercise. If you’re doing an hour plus of moderate cardiovascular exercise (I’m looking at you “guy who holds onto stair master while walking,” and you “bouncy doesn’t sweat elliptical girl,”) there is no after effect. However, studies have shown that with high intensity activity (you should not be able to cary a conversation during said activity) there is a significant after effect or “after burn” of calories.

Now we’ve established that running may not be the best way to get that killer beach bod quick. So then what is? HIIT which stands for High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT mixes short bursts of high intensity activity with low impact exercises and rest periods. And get this, HIIT trains fast twitch or type 2 muscle which is the same type of muscle used during strength training. Lastly you can do a highly effective HIIT workout in as little as 20-30 minutes. You read that right. Half the time, intensity that leaves a lingering afterburn of calories, and you’ll get strong while loosing fat. Here’s the visual difference:

Sprinter Vs. Endurance
HIIT (Sprint training)          Endurance

And guess what? Phia Women’s Center has a judgement free, all levels, ladies only (sorry fellas) HIIT class every Thursday night at 7:30. Your first class is free for the month of June and every class after that is only $10. You can also join us for our Cardio Dance Party on the 24th of June which will integrate HIIT into some super fun dance routines. Register at phiawomenscenter.com

Dance Party Flyer