The Truth About Your Cardio Workouts
by Chris Freytag
“Cardio Free Diet” “Just Say No to Cardio” “Cardio Sucks”. I recently came upon these books on Amazon. Now, I know attention-grabbing headlines can help with marketing efforts and increase readership, but the concept of “cardio is bad for you” is truly misleading. The truth is heart disease is the number one cause of death for women, so it’s just downright irresponsible to go around promoting that cardio kills. It’s great to be a super fan of strength training – I am! But, here’s the bottom line: you need both cardio workouts and strength training workouts to be as healthy as you can be and live a fit life. You don’t need catchy gimmicks and people who promote untruths and confusion. The last thing we should do to people who are trying to get healthy is confuse them (even more!) with misleading information—especially when it’s designed to sell books or products.
Here’s what you need to know. Just because you are for something, doesn’t mean you have to be against something. I am for cardio workouts. I am for strength training workouts. I tell women all the time that they need to focus on retaining muscle because it’s use it or lose it—and you lose about a ½ pound of muscle a year after the age of 35 if you are not actively working to replace it. Plus, I tell women all the time that muscle is the key to a ramped up metabolism. Just because I am a big advocate for strength training—whether it’s in a group fitness class, at home with a DVD, using your own body weight, or using weights at a gym—doesn’t mean I’m against cardio. Both work. You need both to work together for your best body. Don’t believe any other bologna from people who say you only need one. Same thing goes for people who tell you that you only need to watch what you eat and you can skip exercise or those who say just exercise and eat what you want. The truth is you need to eat clean AND exercise to live your healthiest life. Anyone who says you can do one without the other isn’t telling you the truth, or isn’t going to keep the weight off for long.
Now that’s not to say you can’t combine your cardio and your strength training into one workout. I’m all for it. In fact, that’s what my HIIT workouts are all about. My HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training) combine intense cardio drills with full body strength training moves that work your muscles. These combo workouts where you are building muscle at the same time you are getting an awesome cardio burn (torching those calories) are my favorite workouts because they save time. I do them several times a week whether it’s doing circuits on the gym floor or teaching one of my HIIT workouts. Being able to carve out 30 minutes to get a complete sweat and make your muscles that good sore the next day is a time-effective way to get all your body needs into one, compact workout. Everyone has 30 minutes they can devote to exercise, right? (Remember what I tell you…. Someone busier than you is working out right now!)
To contend that cardio kills sends the wrong message to the millions of people out there who barely exercise as it is or who don’t exercise at all and need just the excuse to forgo exercise altogether. It’s dangerous and crazy to tell people not to do cardio when millions of people have undetected heart disease in this country due to sedentary lifestyles.
These books throw cardio under the bus claiming it can hurt your immunity, cause injury or cause you to inhale polluted air if you happen to be working out in a toxic urban area. Those reasons don’t have merit to throw out your cardio workouts. Let’s face it, it can be dangerous to cross the road if you aren’t careful, that doesn’t mean you should never cross a road again. The logic is silly.
Here are some more reasons to love your cardio workouts …
Please don’t listen to the hype or buy into quick-fix gimmicks. I believe in being real—and that’s the real way to weight loss. Don’t diet. Edit what you eat. Don’t give up your favorite foods, just use them as a treat now and then. And don’t start skipping your cardio workouts—just add strength training if you aren’t doing anything to keep and build up your muscles. Gimmicks and provocative book titles are designed to make someone money—they aren’t designed to help you. And helping you is what I am all about. Off. Soapbox. Now.