While many figure competitors lean to the notion that in order to lose body fat you have to implement a clean prep diet, that’s only part of the equation. Including steady state cardio is another working factor. Not everyone can rely on diet only to drop body fat. Some figure athletes need to use diet AND cardio to burn off excess fat stores.
Once you decide that you need to add in cardio to ramp-up your metabolism and fat loss efforts, you then need to decide what type of cardio will work best for you.
- Long Duration Steady-State Cardio
- High Intensity Interval Training
Long Duration Steady State Cardio (Ain’t For The Birds!)
A long duration SS cardio workout generally runs 30-60 minutes at a steady pace. This type of cardio format can be performed on the treadmill, elliptical, bike and other similar cardio equipment, as well as walking or jogging outdoors.
Steady pace cardio is a good fat burner, burning 500-600 calories for every 30 minutes engaged. You can burn even MORE calories by increasing the incline on the treadmill or increasing the intensity on the elliptical or bike. By being able to burn a hunk of calories using SS cardio, you can create a caloric deficit without having to shave off a lot of daily calories.
Personal trainer, Cathe Friedrich, makes note, “Steady-state cardio is a good alternative for beginners who aren’t ready for higher intensity training. Steady-state cardio still burns significant calories and fat, although this will usually decrease over time as the body adapts. It also “teaches” your body to better use fat as a fuel source.”
Long duration cardio is a great way to increase your overall endurance if you are a bit out of shape. However, for some it can be time consuming or boring.
If you start with long duration cardio, begin with just 3 sessions 30-45 minutes a week and progress the format every 2 weeks only slightly.
It’s NOT Which Cardio Format You Use, It’s HOW And WHEN You IMPLEMENT It
High Intensity Interval Training (When to Use it)
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) usually runs for 15-45 minutes using various paces to keep the body off guard. HIIT can be performed on nearly any piece of cardio equipment and even running and sprinting outdoors.
HIIT programs use alternate paces such as alternating 1 minute of jogging with a 30 second sprint, repeating that format for 15-45 minutes. You can break your HIIT ratio up how you like such as:
- 1:30 (1 minute jog: 30 second sprint)
- 1:1 (1 minute jog: 1 minute run)
- 1:2 (1 minute jog: 2 minute run)
- 2:1 (2 minute: 1 minute run)
- 2:2 (2 minute run: 2 minute jog)
HIIT is not as time consuming as long duration cardio, but due to its extreme intensity, some beginners don’t have a tolerance for it and would be better off breaking in a few weeks using steady state cardio.
How to Plug-In Cardio Effectively
Where to Start?
If you are a first time figure competitor and have 20% or more body fat to lose, start with long duration SS cardio. When your body fat drops to 18%, then you can begin to engage in HIIT.
Start long duration cardio by using a moderate intensity, 65% of your maximum heart rate (220 – your age). Begin with 30 minutes 3 times a week for 2 weeks, then progress that amount slowly every two weeks.
Once you’ve reach 18% body fat (or you are currently that or less) you can implement the HIIT tactic as a fat loss method. When using HIIT, toss the maximum heart rate stuff out the door. Let’s workout HARD and SWEAT! If you do your HIIT on a machine, keep the intensity light to allow you to go FAST!
When to Do Cardio?
You are not locked in a set time when to perform your cardio. There is room to play here. If you are prepping for a figure competition, you can either do cardio immediately after weight training, or a separate time of day, 6 hours from training.
The thing to remember when planning your cardio for your figure prep is to not carry all your eggs in one basket. You always want something to fall back on for when that dreaded plateau hits.
Now, The Important Stuff
Take these tips and use them to your advantage so you can shave off the body fat. If you want 12 weeks of fat loss cardio to lose fat, transform your physique, or prepare for a figure contest, you really need to download “Figure Competition Secrets” eBook. It’s a Fully-Loaded 12 week fat loss program to have you figure ready. Hey it’s used and endorsed by the IFBB Figure Pros!
Karen Sessions – Figure Coach
(Article, Steady State Cardio vs. HIIT – Which is Best?, Written by Karen Sessions)