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Exercise Over-Views: Cardio


This article is the one of a series of overviews of popular exercise methodologies. Most people find one training method and stick to it, but in reality it is better to switch things up and use different methods like the tools they are.


Every training style has unique benefits you cannot get elsewhere, but they also have unique shortcomings. I will be doing a quick general overview of each method so you can understand what I’m referring to, and then listing pros and cons for each.


Cardio: Cardio, also known more professionally as aerobic training, is how we burn fat and build our oxygen utilization cababilities. It has particular and non-replicable benefits for oxygen utilization, which in turn shows up as cardiovascular benefits.


Aerobic training increases our body’s abilty to use fat for fuel and, combined with a fat-based diet and/or frequent intermittent fasting, will cause you to utilize your body’s stored body fat and lose weight.


Aerobic training is also particularly beneficial for our hearts. It has been found that people who exercise at high intensity repeatedly have a 19% increased risk of heart arrythmia by the time they are 60. On the flip side, those who exercise often at low to moderate intensity have a 13% decreased risk of heart arrythmia by the time they are 60.


However, intensity is relative, and many endurance athletes are known for running hours a day and running 30 to 100 miles a week. This type of training will wear the body down and often leads to heart problems too.


The biggest mistake in endurance training is that people don’t train hard enough on their scheduled “hard” days, and they don’t train easy enough on their “easy” days.


Instead, most athletes spend their time in a middle aerobic zone where they are damaging their body, not recovering, not gaining the hormonal benefits of a hard workout but not getting the recovery they need from an easy workout.

Pros

  • Increased oxygen utilization

  • Best for burning fat when combined with a high fat diet or fasting

  • Specific cardiovascular benefits that cannot be replicated in any other form of exercise

  • Can be used for recovery

  • Good for para-sympathetic nervous system (not fight-or-flight)

Cons

  • Many athletes train too hard on their easy days and too easy on their hard days

  • When over-done, high injury rates

  • Combined with a sugar based diet, leads to metabolic broken-ness

  • Hard on the body when not supplemented by strength training

  • Most athletes get into the habit of training far too much and too often

Generally in a mixed training program, you should do light cardio on your recovery days. You should run at a pace where it feels too easy, and you should stop before you feel like you need to. Run on a weekly basis, but don’t run “hard” more than once per week.



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