Sunday, June 26th 2005. Because we’re currently lifting on a 4 day split routine, training 2 days on, 1 day off, today was an off lifting day. However, at 13.7 weeks out from a major bodybuilding competition, THERE ARE NO “OFF DAYS!” Cardio is “ON” 7 days a week at this point, for 30 minutes, usually at a steady, moderate to moderately-hard pace. This is much to the chagrin of certain fitness “experts” who tell me I’m doing it all wrong…
“Tom, you should only be doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), no more than 3 days a week, yadda, yadda, yadda, ad infinitum, ad nauseum…” (I wish I had the “Venuto Office Cam” on now… if I did, you’d see me thumbing my nose at said “experts”).
Actually, I am being a little facetious, I really do like interval training, (stadium stair sprinting and hill running is da bomb too). I’m simply non-dogmatic about my training, including the cardio. Who ever came up with these unbreakable “rules” that the “ideal” workout MUST be X minutes long with intervals in a specific Y to Z work rest ratio? Some of the training “gurus” these days crack me up: “Do not deviate!”… “I command you!” “15 minutes of intervals…. not a second more…. Or else your muscle will vanish!” … “Obey me… For I am the almighty, all-knowing, all-certified trainer of the stars!”
How about some flexibility in your approach? Geez. There’s more than one way to skin a bodybuilder. If you have only one way to do something, you are limited. The way I see it, the person with the most choices is the person most likely to succeed. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
What really gets a good chuckle out of me is the trainers (and especially strength coaches) who are so macho that they can’t even call it what it is… Nope. Instead, they have to call it something else: “ENERGY SYSTEM TRAINING”
BWAA HA HA HA HA HA!
It’s called CARDIO you nimwits!
CARDIO! CARDIO! CARDIO!
AEROBICS! AEROBICS! AEROBICS!
Sorry… Heh heh… I’m cracking myself up over here… can’t help it… these blog thingies are “stream of consciousness,” so I just write off the top of my head whatever I’m thinking…. sometimes I get off on a ranting tangent…(But hey, if I can’t “rant”, then what fun would this be?)
Anyway, here’s what I do, and it gets me down to about 3 or 4 percent body fat without any “fat burning” supplements or drugs, so I guess this approach doesn’t suck too bad: Cardio stays to a bare minimum when I’m training for muscle mass in the “off season” (sometimes no cardio at all when I’m nearing my heaviest bodyweight and weight gain slows to a crawl). Doing high volume cardio all year round is NOT good! During the contest season, I kick in the cardio and adjust it reactively in a progressive and systematic fashion.
In general, I prefer more cardio and more food rather than little or no cardio and less food, although calories (mostly carbs) will get cut as I get closer to the show. I also adjust my cardio frequency, duration, intensity and type according the results I’m getting (weight and body composition). I don’t adjust my cardio according to the most popular fad or based on what the latest scientific study says. For contest training, it’s all about results.
I do whatever type, quantity and intensity of cardio that it takes to get the job done. If for some reason, I see myself getting leaner just from my diet and lifting (no cardio), then hey - I don’t do any cardio. Or, if I have to do cardio two hours a day, like I said, WHATEVER IT TAKES. So far, with only very minor adjustments in my diet, (I’ll post my diet later this week), I’m already cutting body fat and losing an average of a pound and a half a week just by adding one 30-minute daily cardio session.
My usual machine of choice is the Stairmaster, although I do mix up my cardio when I feel like it. Today’s session was 30 minutes, 430 calories, with an average level of 8.7. I would rate it about a 6 on a 1-10 scale of perceived exertion, and my heart rate was around 144 bpm, except for the sprint at the end where I was pushing to beat my calories burned in the previous workout (I’m always competing against myself).
The Stairmasters at the gym are different than the one I have at home. My home unit is a 4400PT. The gym model I used today is the 4600 CL. I also love the Stepmill Stairmaster (formerly called the “Gauntlet”). The difficulty levels vary on the different models. For example, the Stepmill, which is a rotating flight of stairs (like walking UP an escalator that is going down, so you stay in the same place), is a lot harder at level 8 then the 4600 CL or the 4400 PT on level 8 (the Stepmill rocks!) Curiously, elliptical machines don’t seem to require as much exertion at a given heart rate. 150 bpm feels harder on a stairmaster than 150 on an elliptical. You can get a good workout on an elliptical, but personally, I think they allow for too much momentum as compared to a stairmaster (I feel goofy on those things anyway).
Occasionally, I also use a Lifecyle or walk briskly on an inclined treadmill. Regardless of the machine I use for cardio, I like to write down in my journal the following: Duration, difficulty level, perceived exertion (on a 1 to 10 scale) and the number of calories burned.
A lot of people ask me if those calorie readouts on the machines are accurate. If the machine asks you to input your body weight, then you’ll get a decent estimate of calories burned, but no, it’s not exact. With Stairmasters, ellipticals and treadmills, the more you hold onto the side rails or support your weight on the rails, the fewer calories you burn, and the machine readouts don’t account for that (not to mention, that’s CHEATING! But of course, I’m sure you never did that before, did you? ) There may also be differences in calories burned due to variances in an individual’s lean body mass and metabolic rate.
Mainly, I keep records of the calories burned for tracking progress and as a motivational tool. You’ll hear me talk a lot about “quantification” over the course of these next three months. Basically, it means that what gets measured or “graded” gets done. Stated differently, it means, you have to keep score! The more things you track and measure, the more motivated you’ll become. You’ll also become more accountable for your actions.
Until next time, be sure to do your “ENERGY SYSTEM TRAINING” (ha ha), and make your next workout score a perfect “10”!
Published on 26 June, 2005