Matt's 12 Week Transformation Guide, Part 4: Cardio Training

Cardiovascular training has numerous benefits, not just aesthetic ones when you are in the process of transforming yourself. Learn more here.
Overview | Training | Injuries | Cardio | Supplements | Hydration | Nutrition | Motivation Stretching | Transformation

Cardiovascular ("Cardio") training has numerous benefits, not just aesthetic ones when you are in the process of transforming yourself. While many guys dread doing cardio, it is a necessary step to helping you in your transformation. Not only will you get aesthetic benefits, but you also will get fantastic health benefits including:

  • improved cardiovascular function
  • increased Metabolism
  • recovering faster from weight training
  • management of certain cardiovascular diseases

How Intense Should My Cardio Exercise Be?

Since your weight training will be intense, take it light on the intensity when it comes to your cardio! A brisk walk around the park, riding your bicycle, walking on the treadmill, using the stair climber, or using the elliptical machine should do the trick. In the next section you will get recommendations for how long and how frequently you should do your cardio training.

If you truly need to burn additional body fat for health reasons, you should slightly increase the amount of time recommended and have a slight increase in intensity. Remember that "slow and steady" is the way to go when burning fat and doing cardio as you want to save energy for your weight training and any conditioning work you do. Conditioning work will be explained in another section.

To experiment with what works best, consider trying a few of your cardio sessions first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or with only a small, water-based protein shake. Several experts in the bodybuilding industry instruct their clients to train with cardio early in the morning to enhance fat burning. This is something on which you will have to experiment on your own. Try it and find out if it works for you.

Remember to keep the cardio to low intensity as by having more energy for muscle building and strength training you actually will burn more body fat at rest. Your metabolism will increase and you will store less body fat due to improving how your body functions.

How Much Cardio If You Want To Gain Weight/Muscle?

Since your weight training will be intense, take it light on the intensity when it comes to your cardio.
"Since your weight training will be intense, take it light on the intensity when it comes to your cardio."

If you are trying to gain weight (muscle), then do cardio 2-3 times a week, for 20-30 minutes per session.

How Much Cardio If You Want To Stay The Same Weight/Get Leaner?

If you are trying to stay at the same body weight and just get leaner, do cardio 3 times a week, for 30-40 minutes per session.

How Much Cardio If You Want To Improve Your Health?

If you are trying to reduce body weight, get leaner, and get healthier, do cardio 4 times a week, for 30-40 minutes per session.

Conditioning Work

Conditioning work is the bridge between weight training and cardio training. While it is more intense than traditional cardio exercise (like treadmills, stationary bikes, going for a walk in the park, etc.) it is still not as intense as heavy weight training like heavy squats, deadlifts, or other forms of intense weight training.

Performing conditioning work twice a week will help you gradually raise your threshold (tolerance) for intense weight training and increased cardio training.

If you really want to take your transformation to the next level, start adding conditioning exercises around Week 6 and do them twice a week (maximum) in addition to your weight training and cardio. Each conditioning workout doesn't have to be any more than 15 minutes after warming up and stretching; and the conditioning work can be done on the same day as your weight training if you are pressed for time.

Performing conditioning work twice a week will help you gradually raise your threshold for intense weight training and increased cardio training.
"Performing conditioning work twice a week will help you gradually raise your threshold for intense weight training and increased cardio training."

If you choose to do conditioning work on the same days as your weight training then be sure to warm up properly. You will have to determine when is the best time for doing your conditioning, either before or after your weight training. At first, do your conditioning work before your weight training. Even though you may have to lower the weights you use in the weight training session of your workout, if you train properly with weights you won't have much energy left to do your conditioning work.

Some examples of conditioning work include:

  • sled dragging/sled pulling
  • shadow boxing
  • jumping rope
  • martial arts "Kata" forms
  • sports drills or practicing sports drills with your kids
  • hill sprints/running up stadium stairs
  • dragging leaves from the back yard to the front yard
  • calisthenics
Note

Always be careful if you have knee or ankle injuries when running stadium stairs or other flights of stairs. Be sure to focus only on safety when coming down the stairs, even if this means simply walking down the stairs before resuming another run up them.

Start out real easy at first. If you choose to sled drag, drag a sled with enough weight so the combined weight + sled is no more than 30% of your body weight (60 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds). Drag it for no more than 5 minutes, twice a week. After 3-4 weeks of this, increase the weight by 5% and the amount of time you drag the sled for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Of course, you can choose another exercise like running up stadium stairs or running up a hill at 70% of your top speed. You want your body to adapt to this conditioning, and gradual increments are the way to go. Don't "burn out" by doing too much conditioning work, weight training, or cardio. By keeping the delicate balance between all three types of exercise and following sound nutritional advice, you will go a long way toward transforming your body!

Base Running

If you live in an area with lots of baseball and softball fields at the park or local schools, you can have a great conditioning workout while training like those who play the national pastime! First, make sure that you have permission to use the field.

When you get to the field, go for a jog from home plate to the outfield wall (or area where a home run would be) and then jog back to home plate. Then begin a basic stretching routine which will help you loosen up your already warmed muscles (from the jogging). After stretching the basic muscle groups be sure to work on your joint stretches.

Do ankle rolls and glutes/hip stretches, and make sure that you gently stretch the calf muscles along with your Achilles tendon area. Since you will be doing base running drills, you want to make sure that you are safe and protected. Be sure that you have sturdy athletic shoes or cleats (spikes) in order to ensure your safety.

You can run from home plate to first base like you are beating out a throw from the shortstop; or you can pretend that you hit a single and make the wide turn at first base. Next, you can lead off first base and steal second base. You can then lead off second base and make the run to third base and all the way to home plate.

Note: Do not slide unless you know how to do so from qualified instruction! It's best if you don't slide at all; the risk of injury is too great.

Have fun with this and use your local park or playing fields to give yourself a fun, innovative workout. After a few of these sprints you will feel it! Start out at 60% of your top speed and gradually increase your intensity over the ensuing weeks.

Try to do roughly one "base run" every 60-90 seconds. Do no more than 15 minutes total, and do this twice a week at most.

Conclusion

Now that you know the benefits of cardiovascular exercise it is time to discuss supplements. Their name implies everything about them. They should act as a supplement to your healthy nutrition. Move to the next article learn more.

Previous | Overview | Next