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Week 4 of my cut, and cardio is getting serious.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

The cardiovascular system

The cardiovascular system

Everyone knows that if you want to improve your cardiovascular system and overall level of conditioning then you’ve got to train on a regular basis. If you want to keep improving your cardiovascular abilities, then it’s not enough to simply train: you’ve got to constantly ramp up the difficulty level.

You’ve probably heard that our bodies are remarkably adaptive, and that’s absolutely true. Let’s say you climb on the recumbent bike or step on the treadmill 4 or 5 times every week to perform 45 minutes of LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) cardio (heart rate around 60-75% of its maximum). While doing the same cardio routine 4 or 5 times per week is certainly better than doing nothing, it won’t take long before your body adapts. Once your body has adapted to a particular activity, it no longer needs to work as hard as it once did to perform that task. That’s a blessing in many ways, but it’s a curse if you perform that activity with the goal of fat loss or general conditioning. When you’re untrained and out of shape, 45 minutes of LISS cardio is fairly challenging and can be effective as a fat loss and conditioning tool. Before long, however, you’ll say, “Wow, this cardio isn’t hard any more – in fact, it’s boring!” Once your body becomes really good at a particular activity, that activity then becomes far less effective if your goal is fat loss or conditioning. Sure, you can keep doing the same thing over and over, but you’ll burn less energy then you once did and you’ll never improve your cardio beyond a certain level.

This is why I’m a big fan of progressively difficult HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) cardio. As long as you’re providing your body with new challenges it will never have a chance to adapt, and that’s what leads to improvement.

So this is week #4 of my cut, and yesterday I increased the interval difficulty of my HIIT sessions. This week the intervals have changed from 30/45 (100% effort/active recovery) up to 45/45. Those last 15 seconds just kill, but after a few weeks at the new interval (and increasingly long sessions) my body will adapt and I’ll be ready for even more difficult challenges.

You can always check out my cardio workouts (past and present) along with all my other training information on my Training page.

John Stone Fitness Comments

4 Responses to “Week 4 of my cut, and cardio is getting serious.”
  1. John,

    I am curious as to why you jump from 30 seconds for 100% effort to 45 seconds. I would think gradually increasing the interval by 5 seconds each workout may be a bit easier on the body instead of jumping by 15 seconds. Same sort of thing as micro-loading with weights.

    BTW – I love the new “blog comments” feature on your site. 🙂


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    • I don’t find a 5-second jump to be a significant enough of a change to really challenge me. I think something you said sort of makes my point:

      “I would think gradually increasing the interval by 5 seconds each workout may be a bit easier on the body…”

      That’s exactly right–it would be easier on my body to make micro-increases like that. Problem is, I’m not after easy, I’m after difficult. 🙂

      BTW, when I say “difficult” I mean “very challenging”–not “harmful”. There’s nothing unsafe about this kind of cardio if you’re in good shape.

      Glad you like the comments feature! I do, too.

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