The Evolution of Cardio

Today I'm going to give you the story of how I solved the problem of getting an efficient and effective fat loss program finished in 45 minutes. Essentially, how I determined that cardio is not the best way to lose fat...and why the perfect fat loss program needs strength training and interval training. 

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Let's take a trip down memory lane to the winter of 98-99. I was but a lowly grad student, studying the effects of androstenedione (the supplement taken by the might Mark McGwire during his record-breaking home run quest in '98).

In my study, we had subjects use Andro and go through a couple of weight training sessions. After the workouts we collected blood samples, and by February of '99 I was stuck in the lab, analyzing these blood samples using some fancy radio-active isotopes.

And when I say stuck in the lab, I mean STUCK. I'd get there at 7am, and record my last data point at 11pm. Sixteen hours of labby-goodness. And if I wasn't there, I was downstairs in the medical library, studying papers on testosterone and training.

Now coming from a very athletic background, this sedentary lifestyle didn't sit well with me. But there I was, studing for a degree in Exercise Physiology and left with no time for exercise. Or so I thought. I was actually left with a 50 minute window once per day of "down-time" while the lab's gamma-counter analyzed my study's blood samples.

That left me 50 minutes to get to the gym (5 minutes across campus) and get a workout in the remaining 40 or so minutes. I knew that if I applied my studies to the workout, I could get maximum results in minimum time.

As a former athlete, I knew that I had to find a way to stay fit and to avoid the fat gain that comes with working long hours in a sedentary environment. And I also had to stay true to the high-school bodybuilder I once was, so there was no way I was willing to sacrifice my muscle to one of those long-cardio, low protein fat loss plans that were popular at the time.

Instead, I had to draw on my academic studies and my experiences working with athletes as the school's Strength & Conditioning Coach.

I knew that sprint intervals were associated with more fat loss than slow cardio, and I knew that you could also increase aerobic fitness by doing sprints (but you can't increase sprint performance by doing aerobic training).

I had seen the incredible results of sprint interval first hand in the summer and fall, as the athletes made huge fitness improvements in a short time using my interval programs. I knew that intervals had to be the next step in the evolution of cardio.

And the biggest benefit of intervals? A lot of results in a short amount of time. I knew that I only had 40 minutes to train, and therefore I could only spend 15-20 minutes doing intervals.

Now onto the strength training portion of the workouts. I knew that a high-volume bodybuilding program wasn't going to cut it. But in the past year I had read so many lifting studies, that I knew exactly what exercises I needed to do to maximize my lifting time in the gym.

Those exercises were standing, multi-muscle, movements such as squats, presses, rows, cleans, and plenty of other standing single-leg exercises. I knew that those exercises would bring me far more results than those people sitting on machines would ever achieve.

And I also knew that I had to lift heavier than the average Joe or Jane Gym-goer lifts. I just knew that doing lighter weights and high-reps wasn't going to cut it. And a research study from 2001 later showed that I was right - when women did 8 reps per set, they had a significantly greater increase in post-workout metabolism than if they did 15 reps per set.

So I had my plan. Bust my tail over to the gym, through the cold, dreary Canadian winter afternoon, and do a quick but thorough warmup (specific to my lifts - none of that 5 minutes on the treadmill waste of time).

Once I got through the warm-up, I did as many sets as I could in the remainder of the 20 minutes alotted to strength training.

At that point, I knew that supersets were the only way to go if I wanted to maximize the number of sets I could the non-competing superset of an intense training program was put in place.

And then I followed up the strength training with intervals, as I knew these had to follow the lifting, otherwise it would not be the correct exercise order. Remember, intervals first leads to premature fatigue. Lift first, cardio later. Forget that old wives tale about doing cardio first to burn more fat. That's junk.

You know, I remember the exact day and exact workout that this all came together into an intense fat loss workout program. It hit me as I was finishing my intervals. I knew I had found something that was like fat loss magic.

And from that point in time, I've tried to share it with as many men and women as possible. The same men and women that I would see day-in and day-out performing the same ineffective slow-cardio fat loss programs, and not making a darn change month after month.

And every day they would see me, soaked in sweat, feeling great and looking lean, and finishing another intense workout. Eventually I'd notice that they weren't around as consistently as before, and then soon enough they would drop out.

So when you see someone frustrated with their ineffective fat loss program, tell them there is a better way. It's research-based, efficient, and most of all, effective. And yes, it goes against the crowd. But it works. It doesn't use traditional boring cardio, but instead it gets a lot more fat loss results in less workout time by using strength training and interval training.

Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men's Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit Article Source: expert=Craig_Ballantyne. Article Source: