I'm sure you've heard a thousand times, "You cannot get a 6-pack if you have above 10% body fat." When I first started, I did not realize this and as I was doing hundreds of sit-ups at once. Not only was I overtraining, but also I could not understand why my abs were not showing.
It was only when I got serious about lifting that I began researching all about lifting and then I found I would need to get my body fat percentage down if I wanted my abs to show through. I then thought back to the Olympics and remembered all these sprinters had abs showing clearly which was obviously because of all the cardio training they were doing.
I'm sure most of you reading this article really hate cardio. I, actually, for the first two weeks enjoyed getting up at 5:30 a.m. to go for a 30-minute jog, but then I realized why so many of you hate cardio. The reason for this I think is mainly to do with doing the same thing everytime, and that is normally jogging.
When you workout at the gym, you change your workout plan around every 4 weeks. This is mainly to do with the fact that keeping the same schedule gets boring after awhile. Everyone knows this, so why do they do the same form of cardio the whole time and wonder why they get bored of it?
If you really find doing the same thing for 30 minutes boring (e.g. running or cycling), you should give circuit training a go. I just thought about it and gave it a try, and the constant different cardiovascular exercises we did really kept me pumped and enjoying it until the end - and I am actually looking forward to do circuit training again.
Some people, if they hate cardio, take a radio or walkman with them. Trust me, this does make the time go much quicker, rather than you just thinking about going another five minutes and thinking constantly about your legs which ache like crazy.
Other Forms Of Cardio
Speed walking is just walking at a much faster pace than usual, and makes your calves cane at the end. (I find this harder than jogging!)
Swimming will give you a full body workout. Swimming will also help develop strength more than any of the other forms of cardio. It is supposedly a good form of cardio, but as I can't swim (d'oh!), I have to leave this one out. =(
Try skipping at a fast pace for 5 minutes. At the end of skipping for just 5 minutes, I feel like I have been running for 20 minutes. Skipping is also good for overall body toning. You also do not need to leave the house to do this one, either!
Martial arts (e.g., karate, kickboxing) are enjoyable and a great workout if you are 'in' to contact sports (and like getting kicked!).
My Cardio Schedule
My cardio schedule looks something like this:
- Monday - Circuit training
- Tuesday - 30 minute jog
- Thursday - Circuit training
- Saturday - 20 minute speed walking
As you can see, my schedule varies in the form of cardio, and that helps keep everything fresh and makes me enjoy it more than just doing one form of cardio.
Now, saying that - do not over-do your cardio. Just like when you're weighttraining, you need a rest to recover from a session, so 3-to-4 days a week are fine for cardio sessions. Try to do your cardio on days you are not weight training so you are not tired out by the time you get into the gym.
Slightly going off the subject a bit is your diet, that I suppose is linked to cardio. Cardio, whether you like it or not, is pointless if you come home and eat burgers and chips all day. If you do this, you are just wasting your time, and, if anything, you will find an increase in body fat and those love handles will appear clearer than ever!
Without getting into too much detail, stick with 5-6 small meals per day every 2-3 hours, and cut down on carbs. Some people think eating as little as possible is the way to go. It's not!
It will only make your metabolism (which is the amount of calories you burn) slow down, so the less you eat, the less calories you will burn - it's as simple as that. You will also spend the time moody and have no energy because of the lack of food in your system.
I'm not saying eat how you did when you were bulking up, but just don't eat as little as you can either. Never have carbs before bed, as they will get stored as body fat when your metabolism starts slowing down at evening, and try to stick with whole grains.
Don't cut out fat completely; it's unhealthy - but try to avoid saturated fats as much as possible. tTey are harder to burn off and will do nothing for you.
Remember: keep your diet clean, and use a variety of cardio activities, so you will not get bored of it, and you will be on your way to a ripped body!