Use cardiovascular exercise to build muscle
There seems to be a constant debate flying around the fitness world, whether it is in gyms, on forums and various websites and magazines. Everyone has their own opinion and what works for some people doesn’t work for others. There is somewhat of a love hate relationship that people often have with cardio. Many people avoid certain methods of cardio because of some peoples opinion, for example bodybuilders only walk as part of their cardio programme for fears that it prevents muscle growth, some people do sprints because “they have nowhere to sprint” or it “might look silly”. What I find alarming is that people are building excuses even before they have tried it. Now don’t get me wrong personally I can see where some people are coming from but I also see that a lot of people are somewhat misguided and often caught up in what other people do.
Cardio serves many purposes, it can aid with;
- 1. Fat burning qualities
- 2. Health benefits
- 3. Improved sporting or athletic performance
- 4. Stress relief
- 5. Enjoyment
The trick now is to pick a cardio method which works for you and something that you can enjoy and doesn’t become mundane. Let’s look at research that has been done in the past, research suggests that lifting weights burns fat; we already do that but we still have stubborn fat that we don’t want (potentially diet related). We have established it is well known that short bursts of intense cardio is an effective way of burning fat (i.e. hill sprints, sprinting, rowing sprints). So what we have now is two methods known for burning fat - why not combine the two together...
Does this mean that cross fit is the best method to get in shape? It is certainly a great way to get in shape but if it isn't for you then there are other options. Firstly let’s look at cross fit. Cross fit combines Olympic style lifts with cardio and various other exercises such as chin ups, med ball throws, hand stand push ups just to name a few. Cross fit is high intensity and is very hard, the duration is short and intense and a session very rarely lasts more then 45mins (isn’t the most effective workouts suppose to be between 45-60mins). The workouts combine lifting with cardio and tests people’s stamina, strength and resilience. The high intensity workouts not only build muscle but supports fat loss. Rich Froning is one of the fittest men on the planet. His physique is extremely muscular, well balanced and his body fat is very low. All he trains is cross fit; in fact he is the world champion. My first point proved to show that high intensity cardio combined with weights can build muscle and produced a physique that most men would dream of. A woman’s physique can also be dramatically enhanced through this training method. Samantha Briggs the female counterpart of Froning shows that it is one of the most effective ways to burn fat and build muscle as her physique could easily rival that of a female fitness model.
Everyone has in their head their ideal physique, some people want to be really muscular and others want less body fat. I would highlight the training that athletes use within American football. There physiques are extremely muscular, low body fat, fast, powerful and extremely athletic. Their training combines heavy weight training, with power (Olympic lifting) training and speed. Because their sport is very stop start they concentrate more on short bursts of cardio like hill sprints as most plays in American football last seconds. Again the physiques that they athlete’s possess are incredible and are attained through combining weights with shorts burst of cardio.
My point and whole topic of this article is that you can combine a strength drill with short bursts of cardio to increase muscle and strength whilst cutting body fat. If you are looking to increase strength, muscle mass as well as cut body fat then implementing some sort of drills into your programme must be more appealing then the cross trainer for 45mins or the treadmill. Let’s take a look at the top mma fighters of the world. The conditioning that these athletes through is tough very tough. Their bodies have to be conditioned to last 15-20 mins. They combine strength training with bursts of high intensity cardio like sprints and use more conditioning drills like prowlers, tractor tyres and sledgehammers etc. All of the drills that they do combine short bursts of activity combined with a strength exercise. Obviously these guys have a strict diet but their training which combines strength drills with short bursts of cardio is proven to get these fighters strong as well as their body fat percentage low.
Put a 10-15 min block aside at the end of your workout to try this. There are endless drills both with weights and cardio equipment that can achieve this for you. Things like flipping tyres not only strengthens the lower body, back and arms it also provides a lung busting workout as do things like the prowler, battling rope, kettlebells, sledgehammers, atlas stone and many more. Cardio doesn’t have to be boring or mundane and it can help build muscle and burn fat.
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Treadmill Hill Sprints s/s 5 Burpees 6 30 sec 1 min
Here are a few sample workouts I like to do. They are short in length but the burns I get off them are immense.
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Clean & Press 5 45 sec 30 sec
Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Tyre Flip & Jump Through
s/s SH Hits 6 1 min 30 sec
Play around with different combinations link big lift or multi joint exercise with shorts burst of intensity and see the fat melt away.