Last week I discussed a way to save time and implement your cardio into your weight training. Not only does this help burn fat and retain muscle effectively, but it is an efficient alternative to keep cardio and fat burning methods in your training routine. With this being said, some people either want to separate their cardio from their weight training and still find a way to perform it in the most efficient way possible, or they refuse to do any cardio whatsoever because they are under the impression that it is only effective as a means of burning fat if they perform long steady bouts and burn the most calories possible.
Recently I was listening to a podcast from legendary New Jersey strength coach Joe DeFranco. As an aside, I would highly recommend listening to it (the show is called “The Industrial Strength Show”), as it is jam packed with great content for any person interested in fitness, strength training or nutrition. Anyway, anyone who knows me well knows how much stock I put into what comes from Joe, and how much of what I have learned has come from him. Thus, when I heard him mention that he had been trying this new “1-minute” cardio training, my hesitance in believing its effectiveness slowly began to wane. After this experience I did some more research and I actually tried it today on my assault bike, and here is what I came away with. Spoiler alert: I am a huge fan. Also, I want to preface this by saying I am in no way a physician, and I do not recommend this for someone who has done no physical activity whatsoever for a significant amount of time. Be smart, and make sure you are healthy enough to engage in this type of intense activity. Work your way up if you need to. Now that I got that disclaimer out of the way here we go!
How It Works
Here is a no nonsense and easy to understand breakdown of the cardio. While the actual max intensity bouts only last for 1 minute, the workout itself is a total of 10 minutes. Let me first say this. If you are reading this and are still convincing yourself that you “do not have time for this,” you clearly just make way too many excuses. Even the busiest people in the world can spare 10 minutes out of their day. Anyway, I digress. Here is the breakdown:
1 minute Cardio
Why It Works
I am not going to copy and paste 50 quotes into this and confuse everyone. I am going to try and break this down from what I have read and understand so it is simple and you can follow along. Essentially, the belief is that the duration of cardio can be reduced as the intensity of the working bouts increases. So, while you may need 45 minutes of slow walking to generate a fat burning effect, you may only need 15-20 minutes of cardio with intervals at 75% and even less once you are performing your bouts at a maximal level. You essentially want to create mitochondria (the power house of the body’s cells that burn up fat and sugar) and you will accomplish the same amount of mitochondria creation in short maximum intensity bouts as you will in longer lower intensity bouts. In other words, there are many ways to skin a cat, or you can accomplish things by different means! Why not accomplish something in 10 minutes instead of taking 45! It seems like an easy choice to me!
My Final Consensus
After doing my homework and actually trying this 1-minute cardio workout, I am definitely a fan. I would like to see how I feel long term, but it was challenging, and how I felt afterwards told me some significant things. For example, I found it to be tremendously stimulating hormonally. I was having a slow morning and my mood was not great, but after I was done I felt revitalized. In addition, I performed this before my lift, and had one of the best lifts I have had in a while. I hit a repetition PR on my bench press; with the same weight I used Saturday when I left multiple reps on the table.
Basically, if you are fit, time restricted and want to burn fat I would give it a go. The leaders in the industry love it, it is backed up by scientific evidence and if it means anything to you I tried it and liked it. I will be sure to mention how I liked it over the course of the week at the beginning of next week’s article. Cheers!
The busier I get, the more I think about ways to improve my training economy and efficiency. If we think about the actual definition of efficiency, that is, receiving the most output from the most minimal input, we can arrive to one conclusion. We must find ways to maximize our training and utilize methods that take up less time and produce more results! This is especially true when trying to use cardio as a means of fat burning. So, today I will show all of you how to capitalize on simple heart rate calculations and higher intensity interval training (with both standard cardio and actual weight lifting). Yes, I know thinking about using weight training as a primary means of fat burning is a crazy idea, but just hear me out on this one. Not only will this save you time and improve your training efficiency, but it will also help you build muscle and lose fat simultaneously (which is what we all want)! So, Here is a guide on efficient fat burning and muscle saving cardio!
Calculating Your Ideal Fat Burning Range
Here is step one, and something that is easy for anyone to calculate and apply. Basically, we all have a certain heart rate range that is ideal for fat burning. Meaning, if we keep the number of beats per minute of our heart at a certain threshold throughout our workouts we will create a fat-burning machine for not only the duration of our training, but for hours after (cardio with greater intensity and focus on elevating heart rates is proven to carry a much longer fat burning effect after completion than more slow and steady state cardio). It is quite easy to calculate your fat burning heart rate range, and you can easily track it using an apple watch or any other style of heart rate monitoring.
Here are the steps for calculation:
Calculate Max Heart Rate= 220-Age
Find the high and low ranges of your heart rate:
Standard Fat Burning Cardio
Before I get into using the above heart rates with strength training, I will briefly detail some standards for “HIIT” cardio, that is, high intensity interval training.
Some conventional HIIT Protocol:
Using Weight Training To Burn Fat
Looking to burn fat and maintain muscle, and don’t have time to add an extra 15 minutes to your training session? The solution is simple. Use your accessory exercises in an interval fashion. For example, let’s say for sake of argument you are working out your upper body. You plan on bench pressing as your primary movement and then following that up with a workout that goes as follows:
Simply perform rounds of these exercises in succession in a circuit manner. Keep your heart rate in the range you calculated and only take a rest once it goes above your upper threshold. The beauty of this is that you can keep your hypertrophy (muscle building) sets and repetitions and still burn fat. Not only that, but you are consolidating your time and improving your training economy!
Since I started my blog and then turned it into a newsletter I have continuously put out content that is geared towards bettering training performance. Whether it was mobility, form and technique or properly warming up, my goal has been to help all of you with some of the more prevalent questions and issues I see arise in this industry. However, this made me think, and I quickly realized that none of this information is useful if you are not motivated to get to the gym and train in the first place. How can you utilize my favorite lower body stretches before your workout if you do not actually work out consistently? How can my advice and guidance on bench press form be of any use if you never actually get to the gym and bench press? So, this week I give you some tools that will tie all this together and help put you in a position to really utilize all the information from my past blogs. Here are my five best ways to keep yourself motivated with your training!
Plan Your Training For The Week
Every Sunday I will sit down and plan my training schedule for the week. I use excel to help organize my exercises and will put my individual sessions together. In addition, I place a date next to each individual workout so I not only know what my schedule is, but it holds me accountable to complete them on the days I have planned. Doing this will keep you organized, and also give you a legitimate purpose when you head to the gym to train. Instead of deciding what you’re doing when you arrive and adding exercises at a whim when you get there, you will have a consistent plan that is mapped out beforehand and holds you accountable to finish all your exercises.
Another key to motivating yourself is to have goals that you can aspire to obtain. Think about it. How much more motivated would you be if you saw yourself slowly creeping towards a goal you have been working at achieving? These goals are even easier to track when we consistently follow my first tip and plan for our training every week. With that being said, here are my four recommendations when it comes to goal setting. The goals must be:
A friend or training partner will help keep you in check and make sure you do not skip sessions or coast while you train. You would be amazed at how much someone else can push you and bring out your competitive nature.
For beginners, having a routine is crucial. Those of us who are very into training can find the motivation to train anytime of day, but it is not always this simple. Having a set time each day (whether morning or night) when you know you will train everyday can help you develop habits that will eventually transform into lifestyle changes.
Keep Your Diet In Line
Your training and your diet will go hand in hand and feed off one another. If you eat poorly you will feel sluggish, not achieve your body composition goals and thus lose motivation to train. Think about it this way. These all tie together to lead to achieving your goals, and goals are the main cog in the machine that is motivation.
Last week I touched on my favorite warm-up routine for the bench press. One of the most common questions I get is related to static stretching, its role in warming up prior to a training session or athletic event and basically how to “properly” warm up. I place properly in quotations because many people are disillusioned when it comes to performing a sound and ideal warm-up. In light of this, I wanted to spend this week discussing the best way to structure and progress through your warm-ups. This template is beneficial for athletes, washed up gym goers, and anyone in between.
As a preface to the remainder of this article I would like to give a brief outline of how a warm-up should progress. Generally, I would advise for a full body foam roll prior to the beginning of every warm-up. Foam rolling can help work out and specific problem areas throughout the body. From here, I usually breakdown my warm-ups as follows:
Static Stretching/Mobility Work For Desired Areas
Plain and simple, this is the area of the warm-up where I like to either work on certain problem areas where there are mobility restrictions present, or simply target the muscles that will be used extensively during the training session. For example, if I have a group of athletes they will each have their own static stretches that target areas they specifically need work on. Otherwise, if you were to be working the lower body, for example, you could target your hamstrings, hip flexors, external rotators, quadriceps and ankles. The same can be said for the days where the upper body is your focus for your training.
As I have mentioned many times before, the core plays an extensive role in bracing the spine while your extremities are in motion. So, activating your core is extremely important if you desire to have an effective workout. Exercises such as planks, farmer’s walks variations and pallof presses are great to ignite your core and prepare it to support you throughout many different ranges of motion.
General Activation (Hips, Shoulders, Glutes etc.)
Essentially, stability is the ability to maintain mobility throughout an entire range of motion. Activation exercises not only help to work on this, but they also help us progress from the static stretches we have just done to begin our warm-up. I always tell my athletes that static stretching is okay to do prior to training or games as long as you properly activate after. So, exercises that require mobility through ranges of motion for your hips, shoulders, and glutes are a great place to start.
Rehearsal of Movement Patterns
Basically, this is where we perform a basic movement that corresponds to the primary movement we are training that day. Is your session centered on the bench press? Great, perform a set of pushups to rehearse a pressing variation. Getting in some barbell squats or deadlifts? Be sure to dedicate this phase to bodyweight squats or kettle bell swings. The goal is to now use the mobility and activation we have focused on and begin to phase it into movement patterns.
Central Nervous System Activation
I have actually written a previous article on my favorite nervous system activation exercises, so go check that out if you need some guidance here. Basically, this is the last portion of our warm-up right before we begin our training or athletic event. Our goal is to engage the nervous system and have us firing on all cylinders before we begin our lift or game. A sprint, jump or throw are the most ideal.
Gerry DeFilippo: ISSA CPT- CPPS, AAPS. Founder/Owner: Challenger Strength.