Cardio gets a very bad rap. It gets associated with a lot of negatives. Partly because when we’re dieting down, we’re getting to that place were body fat is low, energy is low. Cardio becomes a grind. It becomes such a hassle that when that phase is over we can’t wait to stop doing cardio. But, are there benefits of doing offseason cardio? Here’s the thing. We know there is an interference effect between cardio, and strength and performance.
What Are The Benefits?
At low-levels of cardio, either warming up or cooling down or just being active, there are benefits. One of the first things I noticed when I was leaning out some years ago, was that I felt better doing cardio a couple days a week. Prior to that I used to just go to the gym, crush myself under lots of weights for whatever length of time, an hour to two. Go home, eat, go to bed, repeat the next day. What I found when I got into my cutting phase, and I had to do a couple of light sessions of cardio a couple of days a week, I found that I felt better, just because my body was already adapted to some cardio.
Now there were other compounding variables, but I noticed my joints felt better, I recovered better, my mobility/flexibility all of those things just seemed to be better. The first time that I tried to lean out I did not associate it with the cardio. I associated it more closely with the fact that I was closely regulating my diet. I was taking care of everything and only through trial and error did I discover for me personally, that keeping some cardio in has really benefited me.
To this day, I actually enjoy doing cardio a couple of days a week. It might only be ten minutes, it might only be five minutes, it might be 20 minutes. What I’d like to do is auto-regulate based on how I feel, how my schedule is and kind of just what’s going on in my life. At the moment I do a 30 minutes’ walk every morning right after I wake up while listening to some educational audiobooks, podcasts or other audio programs.
What Type Of Cardio?
What types of cardio should we be doing in the off season? I think a favorite of mine would just be walking. Getting out and moving, burning a few extra calories, being outside in nature. Walking down the street. I just find it’s a great way to disconnect. Now for me personally, because I work from home, I’m quite frequently at my desk for hours at a time, I go to the gym and then I come home. So it’s nice to get outside when I can and do things like that. Your situation might be different. The next best option for me would be the bike. I prefer the recumbent bike. I like to sit with my back supported, just peddling my feet. The reason I like this is because there’s no impact because of the circular motion of the bike.
It also very closely resembles some of the movements we do in the gym. A bike at such a low impact, is not going to have negative impact on your lifting. Unless we’re doing sometimes, cardio with a lot of resistance. The next one I like to do is the elliptical. This one is basically the standing version of the recumbent bike, where you are still having zero impact because the elliptical is actual moving in a circular motion so there’s not the impact of walking or jogging.
I’m not going to start jogging because I never liked it, even as a kid I avoided it and jogging isn’t all too great combined with bodybuilding. I work with clients that really love to jog and actually make distance running 5 k’s-10 k’s in marathons a part of their training. Now, I explain to them that there can be an interference and there will be an interference effect on your resistance training and your strength, depending on how much of that you’re doing.
If we’re in the off-season and you add a little bit on cardio in, you can increase your calories, and you will notice an improvement in inflammation and recovery. I personally noticed the day after I do legs I like to get in and ride the bike, do my typical HIIT routine and I notice it helps my recovery from my leg training. Get some blood-flow to the area, get some oxygen to those muscles, and flush out all those toxins. A part might just be anecdotal, Perhaps. But I am my own best research on myself. One thing you can do in the off-season is try this out. How does it feel to do cardio a couple of days a week? Perhaps you do it first thing in the morning when you wake up, like myself? Just to kind of get your day going.
A Method To Staying Awake
Another thing I learned, is that late at night when I have a lot of work to do, and I would typically have an energy drink. I found that the energy drinks at midnight would keep me up ’till three, four in the morning, when I only needed to be up ’till two. So I’m sitting there staring at the computer screen or the TV or my pillow wide awake. This is where some cardio can actually help because what I’ve learned to implement and some people think it’s pretty funny that I do this, but I will actually get up from my desk if I’m kind of yawning and tired at midnight and do a five-minute cardio circuit or I will do a bunch of jumping jacks, I will run in place or I will do some pushups. I will just stay moving for five minutes until my heart rate gets up, I’m a little bit out of breath, and perhaps I break a little bit of a sweat.
The reason why I don’t do more, because I don’t want to leave my house, I don’t want to go off to my gym and I just want to continue working. This helps me keep my mind tight and it re-invigorates me for the next hour or two. That increased heart rate and blood flow throughout my body that is just something that anecdotally for me, has helped. Cardio in the off-season is a big yes. I’m a big fan of it. I just don’t want it to interfere with your strength and your performance depending on the specifics of your goals.
‘’If you chase two rabbits, you catch none.’’
If you’re trying to be a power lifter and a marathon runner. One of my favorite proverbs is, ‘If you chase two rabbits, you catch none.’ Perhaps just look at how you can benefit. There’s five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes of cardio here or there going to negatively impact you? I don’t think so. If you really enjoy doing it, like I do, If you just enjoy getting up there, the feeling of doing a little bit of cardio, getting your heart rate up and feeling after, if that’s something you enjoy, then do it. You should do what you enjoy. Yes, it might not be the most optimal thing. People might think you’re a little bit crazy, but whatever. This is your life. Try it out, see how it goes. The worst case scenario you get to eat a little bit more food because you’re burning a few more calories.
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