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By Michael Collins
Oddly enough I'm going to start this series of articles off with the biggest paradox of fat loss- inefficiency.
I get tons of questions about cardio each day and I'm going to have a lot of people re- thinking their battle plans after reading this.
Sit tight and learn something.
There's a tendency us human beings gravitate towards. This tendency is not just prevalent in fitness, but it infiltrates every pore of our being.
Hell, it's an outright HUMAN NEED.
If you allow this tendency to infiltrate your workouts, your calorie expenditure (and subsequent fat loss) will come to a grinding halt.
The tendency is comfortability.
Specifically comfortability in your cardio routine- getting attached to a favorite machine, a time frame of doing your cardio, a comfortable level of intensity.
Here's why. (A quick physiology lesson)
What happens you perform any movement over and over? it gets easier right? Your body gets used to it. The body adapts.
The body, particularly your nervous system, is extremely smart. It picks up on patterns and learns to adapt to them very quickly. Great for learning to tie your shoes or riding a bike; but nothing slows your cardio caloric burn down like a good ol' adaptation.
Think about a complex activity that was difficult to perform at first, but then got easier- lets take swimming.
When you first started out in the pool and did your first lap I bet you were pretty tired, right? Since your body was performing brand new movements, it hadn't adapted yet. It hadn't yet learned the swimming pattern, and you were in uncharted territory.
So what happened? You spent a lot of energy on a lot of awkward, wasted movement getting yourself across. You also burnt a boatload of calories.
In other words...your body performed inefficiently
Over time, perhaps a few weeks (depending on your frequency of practice) you got better at swimming. The movements were "grooved" into nervous system and your muscles. Soon you could swim that same lap in no time flat. Like a fish, you'd glide across the pool with minimal movement.
In other words... Efficiently
And with this efficiency comes less demand on the body. The body is on auto pilot, performing the moves that are ingrained into the system. Thus, minimal calories are spent.
The value of this conditioning of the body, from inefficiency to efficiency is of course context related. If you are in any competitive sport, usually it is the person who is highly conditioned (efficient) that will come out victorious. In this context, conditioning is of great benefit.
For our sake, in the context of fat loss, we want to avoid the adaptation process.
In performing cardio for fat loss, our goal is calorie expenditure. To achieve this, we'll want to change variables for each cardio workout.
Here's a quick example of Monday/ Wednesday/ Saturday variable cardio routine
Monday- Elliptical Machine (w/ handles) 22 minutes performed at consistent, but slight intensity increase.
Tuesday- Sprints performed at the local park. 16 minutes of High Intensity Intervals. 1 minute 90% of max sprint followed by 1 minute 30% of max jog. Perform 8 of each in interval fashion
Saturday- 25 minutes on the Step Mill (without using the rails to support yourself) at a steady moderate pace.
Performing cardio in this manner will
1) Keep your body from adapting to certain pathways
2) Lower the risk of overuse injuries and cumulative micro trauma
3) Keep you mentally fresh by avoiding monotony
Key point: The wider variety of routines and variables you have in your repertoire the better.
P.S. Don't forget aboutyour Pre and Post Workout Nutrition
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For a more in depth look at the more powerful fat loss routines and other techniques- MCNewsletters has designed a book we call Black Book of Secrets of 61 Fat Loss Tips Tricks and Techniques that are easy to implement, similar to the trick you read in this article. You can read more about it here
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Is cardio the best way to get toned? I'm a mom just starting to get back into working out after a long layoff off due to work and family commitments. I haven't been to the gym in a little over 2 years even though I kept the membership and I feel like I'm starting from scratch. I need to lose about 30 pounds and want to shape up as soon as possible.