Is 2015 The End Of Chronic Cardio?
Written by: Drew Canole
Every year brings new trends and changes in the fitness world. People are all about working out more effectively and in less time because most of us have enough on our plates every day, Realistically, spending hours each day at the gym is just not going to happen.
What is one of the biggest changes hitting the fitness guru’s this year?
Shorter, more intense workouts versus spending hours on a treadmill.
It would seem the time of chronic cardio is over.
Not only is this trend being embraced by trainers and trainees alike, but it is also backed by a lot of science.
More and more studies are coming out that show the effectiveness of a workout (when it comes to weight loss, weight management, muscle and endurance building) is not always dependent on the amount of time spent doing it.
Lots of researchers have found that doing shorter, more intense workouts can bring MORE benefits and MORE results to a participant than spending long hours on the cardio equipment or doing long workouts in general.
Sounds good to me!
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
So what does ‘short’ and ‘intense’ actually mean?
HIIT is a workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity followed by periods of less-intense activity or rest.
For example, doing push-ups or burpees as fast as you can for 30 seconds followed by 1 minute of rest or walking and then repeated. The possible varieties are endless and can include weight training, brief bouts of cardio, yoga, pilates and other aerobic training methods.
Some trainers like Krista from 12 Minute Athlete believe that 12 minutes total is all you need for a kick-your-butt awesome workout that will keep you in shape just as well – or better than – traditional 45-60 minute workouts.
Popular fitness programs like P90X and Insanity are now releasing shorter 30-minute versions of their favorite workout programs. CrossFit is a new HIIT method that has been exploding in popularity over the past year, where workouts are as short as 10 to 20 minutes. Brett Hoebel, famous for his time as a Biggest Loser trainee, also released his own 20 Minute Body program last year.
Looks like the excuse “I don’t have time” isn’t going to cut it anymore, my friends.
The benefits of HIIT include:
- Better shape in less time
- More time left in the day
- Healthier heart (see below)
- Equipment not a necessity
I would highly encourage you to look into interval training! Do your own research online, hire a trainer, find classes in your community or download some YouTube videos! This could be just the change you’re looking for.
The Case Against Chronic Cardio
For years and years, people have believed that the more cardio you can cram into your schedule, the healthier and more fit you will be. Only recently have people started to realize that this is not the case.
Mark Sisson, former elite endurance athlete and creator of Mark’s Daily Apple even goes so far as to say that chronic cardio may be a contributor to major health issues later in life including atrial fibrillation, cardiac arrhythmias, atherosclerosis and other problems caused by oxidative stress.
“The problem with chronic cardio is that we can force our brains to override some of the tiredness (no pain, no gain, pal) and discomfort in the legs – and to a certain extent even the lungs – and keep doing these hard endurance workouts incessantly day in and day out. The ostensible limiting factor is the ability to burn fat or, at the very least, the amount of glycogen still left in our muscles. That’s what eventually brings us to a halt, frequently because we have willed ourselves to keep going through the wall at all costs. But the heart is often over-worked in this scenario, just trying to keep up with that “inhuman” (and inhumane) desire to run, cycle, or swim further and faster in pursuit of…what? A medal? A ribbon? Bragging rights? It can’t say no. It attempts to do as we bid it. And because the heart feels little-to-no pain – unless, perhaps, it feels the REAL pain of a heart attack – it very often suffers silently as a result without us ever knowing. The walls of the heart start to hypertrophy over time the same way a biceps muscle does when you do curls. But do a few too many curls and your biceps will get sore quickly. Force yourself to do a few more and you could even tear something and be out of contention for a few weeks. We know when to stop before that bicep tears.
Cardiac muscle doesn’t tear that way when over-worked, but it does enlarge and thicken with chronic overuse. In some – most – people the thickening is probably not life-threatening, but in some cases, as with dozens of world class athletes I have personally known, this thickening can cause all manner of issues later in life. Atrial fibrillation has become a mild epidemic in my generation of life-long aerobicizers; several of my friends have had pacemakers or defibrillators implanted before the age of 40 to head-off those sporadic life-threatening cardiac enervation problems. A few more friends have lost significant cardiac function and a few have died.”
Mark states several studies in his article and goes into further detail about why he feels this way. Read more here.
Besides there being some health risks associated with chronic cardio, it also takes a heck of a lot of time and patience. Some people LOVE to run for miles on end or get a rush after completing a difficult, long workout. I give those people a big high-five and genuinely applaud them for their commitment to excellence.
The rest of us do cardio because we are desperate to lose weight, stay fit or because we’ve been told it is the only way to stay healthy and feeling young. We don’t really like it. We don’t really have time for it. And heck, if there is a better, shorter and more effective way to reach our fitness goals then we will jump on it like starving jackals.
So take a deep breath and a sigh of relief and get ready for some awesome workouts this year, friends. And always remember, you can’t out-exercise a poor diet so dial that in too! 🙂
Drew Canole is a rockstar in the world of fitness, nutrition and mindset, with a huge heart for others and doing his part to transform the world, one person at a time.
As the founder and CEO of Fitlife.TV, he is committed to sharing educational, inspirational and entertaining videos and articles about health, fitness, healing and longevity. He is also a best selling author and the founder of Organifi, an organic, incredibly delicious greens powder, chock-full of superfoods to make juicing easy no matter your busy schedule.
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