22% off everything (orders $249+) / 20% off smaller orders (Stacks with Club Z) Coupon: TB-RACK

Beyond Lean - Getting There With High Intensity Cardio

Building a lean muscular physique is a combination of two distinct processes: 1) Building muscle mass and 2) burning off the body fat covering up your muscles so that the shape and cuts of the muscles you work so hard to build can actually be seen. Today we are going to concentrate on the second part. You can have slabs of muscle mass and even be well-equipped to perform various physical activities, but if you don’t include cardiovascular exercise in your training program (unless you are one of the very few genetically gifted that can eat whatever you want, not perform cardio, and still remain lean-if this is you then you can stop reading now, you lucky son of a….), you will never have the lean muscular physique that everyone is striving for, which is the way our bodies are meant to be, not covered up with ugly body fat.

In my opinion, whether your main goal is to build muscle, lose body fat, or increase your level of health and fitness, regular cardiovascular exercise should be included in every exercise program. Regular cardiovascular exercise has been proven to provide numerous health benefits, which is reason enough to do your cardio. If you are trying to get lean by decreasing your body fat levels then cardiovascular exercise is a great way to help you achieve your goals.

Cardio can be performed in many different ways and at varying levels of intensity, all with their own benefits. The debate over high intensity cardio vs. low intensity cardio continues to go on with both types being supported by scientific studies. Any type of cardio performed can be effective, and bodybuilders and fitness competitors have success getting lean using both high intensity and low intensity cardio. However, for getting lean (really lean) fast and in the most efficient manner, high intensity cardio just can’t be beat. High intensity interval training can be completed in as little as 16-20 minutes. To get the same results from low intensity cardio you may have to spend 3-4 times as long performing cardio.

When I tell people that many of my cardio sessions are just 16 minutes and the rest are 20 minutes maximum they cannot believe how little cardio I do. Well, if you could watch me perform my cardio you would see that it is no walk in the park. In fact, it can become brutally difficult, yet I don’t mind because I know how extremely effective it is at burning fat. I have also found short, intense cardio sessions to have a minimal negative impact on muscle building efforts, so long as your nutrition is in order. The reason that intense cardio is so effective is that it increases your metabolic rate much higher than moderate or low intensity cardio. When your metabolism is cranked up through intense cardiovascular exercise it will continue to soar for hours after your cardio session is over so you will continue to burn calories at an accelerated rate. If you think about it, you are getting a huge return on a relatively small investment. If you can achieve this in business then the decision to make the investment is a no-brainer, so why should it be any different with your body?

Another advantage of shorter duration cardio is that it protects against muscle breakdown, which can occur with longer cardio sessions. The best analogy I can give to advocate high intensity short duration cardio is a sprinter’s body vs. a marathon runner’s body. We all know that the sprinter is very lean with lots of muscle mass, while the marathon runner is softer and carries very little muscle mass.

Now, intense cardio exercise takes some getting use to and also requires some mental and physical toughness. It is extremely demanding, but ever since I have been doing cardio this way I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Time is one of the most valuable resources we have, and intense short duration cardio saves you lots of time! 16 to 20 minutes and I am out of there, while others spend up to an hour or more on the treadmill or bike, and still not achieve the results they are after.

I suggest performing cardio 2-4 times per week for general health purposes or if your main goal is gaining muscle mass. If you are trying to get “ripped” for a bodybuilding contest, beach trip, or whatever, then you should perform cardio more often up to 7 days a week, and even twice a day depending on how much fat you have to lose and how long you have to lose it. I like to make cardio into a game by tracking my calories and distance on the piece of cardio equipment. The goal is to beat my previous performance every cardio session. If you strive to do this then you are literally forced to produce some very intense cardio sessions whether you always reach your goals or not. It takes time to build up your level of intensity so start off slow and be patient. Of course, you should also check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to perform intense exercise.

Even if your main goal is increased muscle mass, cardio should be a regular part of your training program, not only for the health benefits, but performing intense cardiovascular exercise can actually help you achieve your muscle-building goals. Cardio improves blood flow to the muscles and increases the volume of blood contained in the blood vessels and veins. Cardio also increases your metabolism allowing you to eat more muscle-building calories without adding unwanted body fat. Finally, if cardio is performed intensely enough, you can actually create an anabolic response by increasing growth hormone and insulin levels similar to the reaction created from your intense weight training sessions. During the post-cardio time frame is a good time to take advantage of a fast absorbing carbohydrate and whey protein source to capitalize on this anabolic reaction. The key is to perform your cardio intensely enough.

I normally perform my intense cardio sessions using the stair-stepper or recumbent bike. I use these two pieces of equipment due to personal preference, but don’t feel limited to the bike or stair-stepper, or even to staying inside. Running stadiums is an outstanding way to get your heart rate and metabolism skyrocketing. You can apply intense interval training to almost any activity, including running, biking, swimming, or jumping rope. Other great cardio options include playing full court basketball, mountain biking, and high intensity aerobic or spinning classes. Although these forms of exercise will probably take more time than 20 minutes and may not be quite as intense, if you consciously push yourself hard they are very effective at burning fat.

So, if you want to get “beyond lean” and you want to get there fast and without spending hours a day in the gym, then you need to try some high intensity cardio today!

Leave a Reply

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.

GIVE $10 GET $10More info