I'm really excited about recording this episode because I get questions about cardio all the time. So today we're going to answer all of those questions to help you get really clear on the 8 steps to take when it comes to cardio, and also fine-tune and figure out how much of each you want and need for your body goals.
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You're listening to Biceps after Babies radio episode number 96
Hello and welcome to Biceps after Babies radio. A podcast for ladies who know that fitness is about so much more than pounds lost or PRs. It's about feeling confident in your skin and empowered in your life. I'm your host, Amber Brueseke, a registered nurse, personal trainer, online fitness coach, wife, and mom of four. My guests and I will excite and motivate you to take action in your own personal fitness as we talk about nutrition, exercise mindset, personal development, and executing life with conscious intention. If your goal is to look, feel, and be strong and experience transformation from the inside out, you, my friend are in the right place. Thank you for tuning in, now let’s jump into today’s episode.
Hey, Hey, Hey, welcome back to another episode of Biceps after Babies radio. I'm your host Amber Brueseke. And before we dive into today's episode on cardio which by the way, I'm really excited to be sitting down recording this because I get questions about cardio all the time. Like everybody wants to know what you know what how do I know if I'm doing cardio like what is cardio? What is defined as cardio? How much should I be doing? How should I balance it with weightlifting? How should I do it with macros? Like there's all these questions about the nuances about cardio, and we're going to dive into it today and get all those questions really clarified for you so that you can be the most successful possible in your journey as you are. You know, taking these different pieces and elements of your fitness journey, right we have cardio, we have weightlifting, we have the nutrition, the macros that you're eating, and these are some of the I call them levers in my programs, I call them, you know, these are the levers that we pull to create the result that we want, and kind of fine-tuning those levers and figuring out how much of each that you want and need for your body and for your goals. That can take a little bit of work and a little bit of understanding about the science behind cardio and macros and things. And so today we're going to answer all of those questions, we're going to help you get really clear on the next eight steps to take when it comes to cardio.
Thank you!Thank you! Thank you! 2:09
But before we dive into that, I do want to just give you guys a big huge thank you for being here for listening to the podcast and most of all, for sharing the podcast. I can't tell you how much it makes me excited to get on here and record podcasts when I see you guys post on Instagram and tag me and share what you're learning and experiencing and the aha moments that you're having with the podcast. If I'm being honest, like in the world that I'm in, right this like online business, online fitness platform, all of my clients are remote, right? Like I don't train anybody one on one in person. And you know, I know a lot of you can relate to this a little bit, right? Because maybe even if you had been doing things in person, now you're doing these things more remote because of COVID and in quarantine, and so, you know, not having that like feedback sometimes that like immediate feedback, right? When you're talking to somebody, and you're teaching them, you can get kind of that immediate feedback. And when I sit down to record a podcast, it's not like that, right? I sit down, I spend time creating the notes, and I spend time recording and I spend time thinking about it. And then I record it, and I just kind of put it out into the world and you just you hope that it's making a difference. As a content creator, I just hope that the things I'm putting out there are actually impacting people's lives. And not only that, it's that it makes you go oh, yeah, aha like, I have an aha moment. But that it actually makes you take action and that's that bridge that I really hope that the podcast helps you to do is like you're gonna learn a lot when you listen to the podcast. But if you're just learning and not actually having that change and create new actions in the future, then it's not really doing anything for you. And so what I love more than it the thing is to see how you guys are applying the things that you're learning in the podcast. And when I get dm's from you, and I get you just, you know, you tag me on Instagram or you tag me on Facebook, or you send an email to our support inbox, and you let us know how the podcast is impacting you and impacting your actions and impacting your results. Like there's nothing better as a content creator. So I am just so thankful for you and for sharing the podcast episode with other people, things, people that you think would be interested in it. And because of that, we've had over half a million downloads, which I mean, blown away by that half a million download mark, and just really celebrating that at this moment.
We are almost at our 100th podcast episode! 4:41
And then in addition to that, we are coming very, very close to our 100th episode. I started the podcast a year ago, two years ago in October, so October of 2018. And over you know, over the past two years have released a podcast episode every single week. We are almost heading 100 episodes. And, you know, had you asked me two years ago and said, Can you imagine, you know, having released 100 podcast episodes, I think I would have looked at you and been like, didn't I run out of things to talk about like that was one of my fears when I started the podcast, I might have run out of things to talk about, am I going to run out of content. And here we are almost at 100 episodes. And I'm happy to say that I think there's plenty more content for me to cover. There's always more for me to dive into. And I hope that the podcast has been something that's been helpful to you and I hope in the future as we continue releasing episodes, that it's something that inspires you and promotes you to action and that you find valuable in your fitness journey.
Alright, so let's move on to our topic at hand, which is cardio. And specifically, one of the biggest questions people have when it comes to cardio is how much should I be doing? Right like, give me a formula, give me a set of like, here's the kind of cardio you should be doing, here's how much you should be doing a week and that's gonna give you the best results or the maximal results. And, like so many things in your fitness journey and if you've listened to the podcast before you hear me say this a lot over and over and over again, and, and there's a good reason for it. And the reason is if you don't actually have a destination that you're trying to reach, anyway that you go is we will get you there, right, like we've heard there's that saying from the Cheshire Cat when talking to Alice in Wonderland. Alice approaches the Cheshire Cat and she said, “Would you tell me please which way to go from here?”, and the cat says “that depends a good deal on where you want to go”. And then Alice says back,” I don't care much where” and then the Cheshire Cat interrupts and says, “then it doesn't matter which way you go”. And I feel like this is so pertinent to so many areas of your fitness journey that if you don't know where you want to go, then literally anyway is going to get you there.
What is your goal? 7:02
And so the very first thing that I want you to consider, like you, you know, are thinking about cardio and as you're thinking about your fitness plan and how you're arranging things, is starting with what is my goal? And when I ask that question to my clients, or when you ask that question to yourself, something, hopefully, will come up right there, hopefully, you're not just doing this for like, I don't know, funsies. Like, there's actually a goal and maybe your goal is just like, I just want to feel healthy, right? Or your goal is I want to get my blood pressure or whatever, like, it doesn't have to be aesthetic. It doesn't have to be strength related. It doesn't have to be like you want to run a marathon, but there should be a goal behind what you're doing. And to take that question one step further, because you know that I'm all about asking yourself the best questions possible because that's how we get the best answers is if we ask ourselves, what is the goal.
How will you know when you are there? 7:54
And then we take that question one step further, and we ask the follow-up question of how will you know when you are there, because oftentimes what I hear is like people like, well, I just want to be healthy, right. And when we create a goal around something like I just want to be healthy, we have no metrics, we have no way to measure if we are getting closer to or further away from that goal. And if you don't have any metrics to measure, like you just kind of like it's almost like throwing like money into the wind, right? You're just throwing it in the air and just hoping that it like gets to where it wants where you want it to go. And so we have to be able to, if we want to get to a certain destination, we have to be able to measure it so that we can know that what we're doing is actually moving us towards that destination. So if your goal is just to be healthy, then I would ask yourself that refining the question of how will you know when you're healthy? What will tell you, oh, I'm healthier today than it was yesterday, or I'm healthier today than I was six months ago? And this is where we start to define your individual metrics, like your metrics that matter to you. And for someone who when they say I want to get healthy, maybe for them, it's like, they just want to be able to go outside and play with their kids without getting winded. Right? So when you get clarity on that, now you've developed your metric, right? That's your metric. And you can measure it, you can measure like your exertion level when you go out and play with your kids. And so when you do something like start implementing cardio into your routine, and you start taking those actions, then you have a metric to measure, is your exertion level getting less and less, now that you've added this cardio, so you can see how hopefully you can see how important it is for you to define a goal, define an outcome and then ask yourself the question of how you will know when you're there because, from that question, you're going to create the metrics that are going to let you know if what you're doing is moving you further or further towards or further away from your goal.
Be better at goal setting 9:52
Now, that's a really brief like me speaking about goals and if you know I think everybody can and should get better at goal setting. I think goal setting is a skill that a lot of people think that they have and they don't, they're not very good at it. It's not something that we're taught a ton in school. And the more intentional you are about setting goals and how you set them in the specific way that you set them, the more effective you're going to be in reaching those goals. And so if you have not listened to two weeks ago, the episode two weeks ago, which was Episode Number 94, on the mistakes the common mistakes I see with people setting goals, definitely go back and listen to the episodes one of my favorite episodes I got so much good feedback from you guys that it helps you to see goals in like a completely different way than you've ever seen goals. I teach goals in a way that I think is very unique and different from a lot of people and go and listen to it. I think it will really help you not only with cardio but in like so much of your life. Success in your life, in your fitness journey, in your business career, in your home, like is determined by your ability to set and achieve goals. And so if you haven't listened to episode number 94, definitely go back and listen to that, because you'll learn a ton about goal setting and how to be more effective at your goal setting.
Work on to achieve your goal extremes 11:12
Okay, so if you've determined what your personal goal is, like when you're creating a fitness program, or you're trying to decide how much cardio you should be doing, and you've now decided on what your goal is, and you decided on what metrics will tell you if you are moving closer or further away from your goal because the truth is when we start talking about how much cardio you should do, it is 110% based on what results from you want, right? Because if you come to me and you say, Amber, I want to get as much muscle as possible. I want to, you know, double my squat weight, I want to be able to hit a 300-pound deadlift, like if you tell me all of those things, then it's very easy like you should be doing as little cardio as possible, right if your goal is to get strong and to build them you should be focusing on weightlifting, progressive overload, heavy lifts like that should be your focus and like cardio should be almost like nothing. And on the other end, if you come to me and you say, Amber, I want to run, you know, a sub-330-minute marathon, then it's very clear, like, you should be training, you should be running, you should be training for your marathon. And so on each of us, you know, opposite ends of the spectrum. They're kind of like the extremes of like, you really want to, like get as big as possible or you want to be as fast as possible or you want to swim as far as possible, right? Those are like the extremes. The swimming in the running, like if that's really what you want to improve, like, that's what you need to do. If you really want to live, get big muscles and like to get as strong as possible. You need to like to lift weights and deprioritize cardio. So those are easy.
Figuring out what’s going to be the most effective for your goals 12:53
The questions to believe come in that middle area, right like that gray zone of like, well, I want to build muscle but I also want to lose fat, or, you know, I want to run fast. But I also want to increase my bone density and improve my metabolic rate. Right. So when you kind of want the best of both worlds, you're kind of in that gray zone and middle zone. And now that's where we can, you know, start to talk about that murky middle ground, where these metrics that you've defined as what is going to define success for you are going to be so important in figuring out what's going to be the most effective for your goals. And I really want to highlight the word “effective”. If I could do one thing for your fitness journey that is going to just improve your fitness journey, like one change, it would be to change from you ever saying what's the right or the wrong way to do something to what is the most effective way. And the difference is, is that effective is based on your goals, right? So something like who cares what the right or the wrong way is, if it is effective for your goals, it's the right way for you and if it's not effective for your goals and it's not the right way for you. And so if you make just even that one little change whenever you start to say is this the right way to do it this is the wrong way and you make that mental switch to is this the most effective way, that changes everything.
Let’s define cardio? 14:15
Okay, so before we answer this question of how much cardio should you be doing? Let's first define what cardio is because this is another big question they're like is this cardio? Is this like when I go for a walk, is that cardio? When I do my shopping, is that cardio? When I go running, is that cardio? Like people want a very clear cut and dry like the definition of, of what cardio is. And so let's dive into that a little bit. So I'm going to give you what is a very common definition of cardio. I'm not going to say this is like the only definition or even the right definition right like there I'm sure someone will want to fight me on like what the definition of cardio is, that's fine. I'm going to give you the definition of cardio that I am going to use in this podcast episode and when we talk about titrating cardio in your fitness. This is kind of the terminology that I'm using. So, cardio is really anything that raises your heart rate and your breathing rate and improves the function of your heart, your lungs, and your circulatory system.
Adaptation cycle 15:14
Okay, so just like in Episode Number 90 where I talked about weightlifting and how we need to implement progressive overload with weightlifting, the same thing applies to your circulatory system or to your heart rate or your heart like a contraction, when those are challenged, when your breathing rate is challenged, when your heart rate is challenged, you know, when you're requiring that your body goes through a then adaptation cycle to be able to get stronger and more efficient, your heart contracts harder. It can contract harder with each pump, able to push out more blood, the stroke volume of your heart goes up, your ability to inhale and exhale and process that oxygen improves because those are adaptive things that your body is doing when it is forced to do it. So that's really what cardio does, it creates that stimulus for the heart for the lungs for the circulatory system.
Understanding more the definition of cardio 16:09
Now, with that type of definition, we can look at something like walking and say, does it challenge the heart rate? Does it challenge breathing? Does it challenge the circulatory system? And the answer is, for most people, no. Now if you're very sedentary and you're just getting started, maybe that is enough of a challenge. But for most people walking under this definition would not really be termed cardio. Now, does that mean that it's not something that you should do? Doesn't mean that it's not effective? Does it mean that I hate walking and I think no one should do it? No, like that's not, that is not at all. I think walking can be a very effective thing for a lot of people. And a lot of people enjoy walking. There's nothing wrong with moving your body in a way that feels good. But when we're looking at specifically what we define as cardio, in this way it's a stimulus that is creating a change in the body, walking, you know, easy like swimming, easy bike riding. Well, good movements for your body aren't necessarily pushed into that realm of cardio. Again, that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, doesn't mean there isn't value in it, doesn't mean there aren't benefits to it. There absolutely are benefits to walking. There are benefits to bike riding like there are benefits to these things. But they aren't specifically targeting that almost progressive overload of the circulatory system that we are really looking for, right when you're talking about getting healthier and having a stronger heart and having healthier lungs that come from requiring something of your lungs, requiring something of your heart.
Two different types of cardio 17:42
Now there are really two different types of cardio and it's not like only one is ever active, they're always both working like you always have your anaerobic system and your aerobic system working. But typically one is more dominant than the other depending on what you're doing and what is being required. So an aerobic workout is one where your body is able to use oxygen. And because of that, you're able to use it to go longer. This is like when you go for a run or you go swimming, you are essentially training your body to use that oxygen as efficiently as possible. And it's, you know, over time, what that's going to do is it's going to gradually reduce your resting heart rate as I talked about your body is then able to increase the stroke volume. So with every single contraction of your heart, you're actually pushing out more blood volume, it makes your heart just get more efficient, and your breathing rate also comes down. Again, your body is just being forced to get more efficient to keep up. And those are two really important things when you're talking about cardiovascular health. And so you know, aerobic workouts are really good for that. The other type of cardio is anaerobic, and that's without oxygen. These are your fast and your intense and your, you know, submaximal things like hit or like a one-rep max or like a really quick sprint. And so there are two different systems in your body, the aerobic system, and the anaerobic system.
Different pathways that our body uses for energy 19:07
And then I'm going to just dive just a little bit into a little science. I don't want to lose people. But I know that I appreciate understanding the science like the why behind something, when I understand the why behind something, it helps me to understand what so much deeper level. So I'm not going to dive too deep into the science but I am going to just talk a little bit about the different pathways that our body uses for energy. And it's important to understand that your body takes food that it eats, and those calories are able to allow how we use calories by converting it into ATP. So if you remember back to your high school biology class, that's adenosine triphosphate, and that is then stored in our body as if it's ready. It's prime energy, energy prime to be used. And when those molecules are broken, that is when that energy is released. And we're able to then use that source of energy for muscle contraction and all the things that our body does. Now, your body can only store a certain amount of ATP at one time. And our body also has three different systems, we call them metabolic pathways that can be used to produce that ATP.
Three different pathways of our body 20:26
Okay, so the three different pathways are the phosphagen pathway, the glycolytic pathway, and the oxidative pathway. And the phosphagen pathway is really, really quick like sub 10 seconds. And it's really anaerobic. It's for things like a sprint, right, like a one-rep max, that would be the phosphagen pathway, like a, you know, a 40-meter sprint, that would be the phosphagen pathway. And then, you know, for thinking in terms of steps and then like, almost endurance, one step up from that would be the glycolytic pathway. And this is a little bit longer, but it is still anaerobic. Okay, so it is your body, essentially breaking down glycogen, which we store a lot of in our muscles. And we break down that glycogen into ATP. And this really makes the body very efficient at using glycogen, or glucose for energy. And this is why for friends that do keto, who are very low on carbohydrates and end up being low on those glycogen storage, this is why it can be hard when you are doing keto, training at this level, like training in the area of the glycolytic pathway because you just don't have a ton of glycogen storages. This pathway really produces energy for things up to like a minute and a half, right? So maybe a little bit longer sprint maybe like a 440 sprint or lifting weights tends to fall in this area, which is also why keto doesn't tend to do well for people who are trying to lift weights because your glycogen storage is so low. And that is what you use most during a weightlifting session. Also, HIIT would be in this pathway as well. And then the last pathway is the oxidative pathway. And this is more this is our aerobic. This is more of our endurance work. This is for things that you typically think of as cardio, like going for a run, you know, you go for a three-mile run, or you go to the elliptical, these would be more in that oxidative pathway and the oxidative pathway, its primary fuel is fat and it requires oxygen in order to produce that ATP. So while the other two systems are anaerobic, they don't require oxygen, the oxidative pathway does. And unlike the other two, which kind of tap out you know, like a minute and a half, the oxidative pathway can provide a lot of energy for a very long time. Which is why it's more of your endurance pathway. And a lot of people, this is kind of when they think cardio, this is their go-to, they tend to go towards that oxidative pathway, they tend to go for a run or they tend to go for a long bike ride or a swim or you know, go on the elliptical and this is all training in that oxidative pathway. One thing to understand about the oxidative pathway is that it is highly adaptive. Meaning, your body quickly adapts to like what you place upon it, which is why to like couch to 5 K's are a thing because you can go from literally running nothing to running a 5K in a couple of weeks. And that is because our bodies are very adaptive when it comes to this pathway and being able to create it and make it efficient in a shorter amount of time.
Keep the facts straight 23:54
So now that we kind of have a little bit of the why behind we kind of understand like what's going on in your body when you do cardio, and what are the different types of cardio maybe their benefits for your body, we can look at some of the current recommendations by the American Heart Association. And we can kind of use that too, as a starting place for us and, and anybody who's ever taken who's ever been coached in Macros 101, or coached by me, period understands that I am so big on the fact that anything you start in your fitness program is a starting point. And then the only way to actually like being the most effective for your body is to make sure that you're gathering the data from your body and looking at it right. So I talked about metrics that matter at the very beginning of the episode because those metrics are going to tell you whether or not what you're doing the action that you're taking is actually presumed to produce the amount of the result that you would like, and so it's the same thing with something like cardio, where you like to start the type of cardio that you start with, where you know how many days you decide of doing cardio is just a starting point. And from there, what is really going to make the difference is when you are able to customize everything to your body, your goals, and your lifestyle, and that doesn't happen from the get-go. That happens over time. As you gather data from your body.
Customize a plan for your body 25:18
I teach a cycle in Macros 101 that helps teach you how to take some action, gather data from your body, analyze that data appropriately. This is where a lot of people make mistakes because they don't know how to analyze the data and actually read it and figure out what their body's telling them. And then based on that data analysis, be able to either keep going if it's working or take new actions moving forward to actually produce the result that you want. And as you go through that cycle of taking action, gathering data, analyzing it, and then adjusting based on that data, what you'll find over time, you're going to be able to create the best-customized plan for your body which is different from anything else's body. For your goals, which again are different for anybody else's goals and the lifestyle that you want to live and create, which, again, I don't have to tell you is different and unique to anybody else. And so when I read recommendations, like what the American Heart Association recommends, I like to view those as a starting point. And we can titrate up or we can titrate down, based on your body, your goals, and your lifestyle. And that's how you're going to get the best results. That's how you're going to be the most effective in your fitness journey.
All or nothing mentality 26:32
So the American Heart Association currently recommends about 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise. And if we're, you know, if we're trying to define what is moderate mean, if you're looking on a scale of 0-10, 10 being like max effort, you know, one being like zero effort, that's around a 6, right? If you were to like rate your exertion level that's around 6 or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, and that would be somewhere around an 8. So that's the recommendation. That's the current recommendations for cardiovascular health and fitness. However, there are two sides to this. One, if you're not currently doing that amount, it's really important that you don't necessarily like throw the baby out with the bathwater and be like, well, because I'm only doing 20 minutes of cardio a week, or 20 minutes of working out a week, then I might as well not do it at all right? Because I'm not doing, I'm not meeting the recommended amount, something, something, something is always better than nothing. And if that type of mentality comes up, which I would say, probably 90 to 95% of my clients deal with all or nothing mentality and fall into that trap. Definitely go back and listen to Episode number 58. It's one of my favorite episodes on the all or nothing mentality. And here's the trick about all or nothing mentality. Most people really struggle to see it in themselves. And so I'll be talking with a client and they'll be telling me something and I will point out, you know, did you see this as like all or nothing? And they'll be like, Oh my gosh, I had no idea like I never even thought of it that way. And so yes, it can be easy like the mistake I don't want you to make is to go listen to that episode and like sit there nodding being like, Oh yeah, I totally see this like I see like, so many people fall into this trap but like I don't really see it in my journey because I want you to look a little bit harder and or hire a coach because we all have blind spots and that's what coaching is effective for. But that all or nothing mentality shows ups in some real sneaky, sneaky little ways. And I talked about it in that episode so that you don't fall into that trap. So, but with cardio, again, like everything else, something is better than nothing.
Importance of cardiovascular health 28:42
And then I also want you to consider that, you know, cardiovascular health is important and can be achieved in multiple routes, right? So it's not like, okay, you hit 150 minutes of cardio this week. Ding, ding, ding, like you have cardiovascular health. You only had 135, boo!, you don't have any cardiovascular health, right? Like, so we have to be careful in taking these as guidelines, and maybe as starting points or something to work up towards. But it doesn't mean that it's like the end all be all and that that's exactly where every single person in every single body should be.
Talk test 29:18
Oh, also something I'm like looking at my notes right now, and I saw that I skipped something. So I'm going to put it here. But when we're trying to decide like, is this cardio is this not? Which is not actually that great of a question? Like, is this cardio is not like, there are much better questions to be asking, like, is this effective? Is this pushing me towards my goals? How do I feel when I do this? Right? Those are much better questions to be asking. But a good way to kind of define like, am I actually challenging my heart? Am I challenging my cardiovascular system? Am I challenging my lungs? is to do what's called the talk test. And you've probably heard this when you try to have a conversation with somebody and even if you're trying to like speak in short sentences, it is challenging to have a conversation with somebody. If you're sitting there like chatting and talking the whole time, that's awesome. But you're not challenging your heart and your cardiovascular system and your lungs if you can sit there and chit chat with somebody the whole entire time. So that's a really good way to just kind of have a metric to kind of say, am I actually challenging my heart again, there's nothing wrong with walking, go for a walk, chat with you, you know, chat with your best friend like that. There's nothing wrong with it. But just understand that when we're talking about a certain stimulus to achieve a certain outcome, we have to be challenging that heart and that lungs and that cardiovascular system and the talk test can be a really good way to kind of figure out where you are in that.
Benefits of Cardio 30:33
Okay, quickly, I'm just gonna mention some of the benefits of cardio. You probably know a lot of these but I think it's valuable to understand like, yes, there is value to cardio. I think especially in the weightlifting world, they kind of poopoo cardio sometimes and it is true that to some extent, like you can get that heart rate and that breathing rate pushed and that intensity with weightlifting, especially when you're doing like heavy, heavy squats, heavy deadlifts, heavy bench, like, I'll get out under from underneath a heavy squat and my heart rate is up and my breathing is up and I can barely like carry on a conversation, right? So you know, that would still be termed cardio and maybe it's a shorter, shorter amount of cardio obviously because then you rest and recover and then you do it again. But what is important is to understand that it's like it's not this all or nothing. A lot of lifters will like to tell you that like cardio is the devil and you don't need to cardio, we all hate cardio. But there is a place for it right and there is a purpose behind cardio. And so some of the benefits are, you know, one we talked about like training your body to use oxygen more efficiently, which is going over time, decrease your resting heart rate and your breathing rate. And that actually is a very good indicator. If you're someone who likes I just want to be healthy. I want to have a healthy heart, using that metric like your resting heart rate can be a really good metric to use to see if that's actually occurring. And something that is very trackable, it's something that you can easily see as a number, and you can see it improve over time. So if you're looking for a metric to measure like general overall health or heart health that can be one that can be helpful to use. Cardio can be beneficial with weight loss. We'll talk a little bit more about that a little bit later in the podcast because I know for a lot of you who are listening, that's something that you're working on right now. It improves, like I said, the contractility of your heart, it can lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, it can increase bone density however, muscle or lifting weights tend to do better with that. But with something like running where you're having that you're striking that surface that can have an impact on bone density. It reduces stress and depression, those endorphins, we talk about that like runner's high like it's a real phenomenon. A lot of people report better sleep more energy. As I said, it helps strengthen your lungs. It reduces that long. risk of heart disease and stroke, which in turn helps you to live longer and also helps you to have a healthier immune system. So there are a lot of benefits to cardio. It's not like we don't have to say cardio is the devil, we don't have to say you should never ever do cardio, there are a lot of great benefits to doing cardio and including it as a part, you know, not as all but as a part of your fitness journey.
Drawbacks of cardio 33:21
Now, if we're getting into some of the drawbacks of cardio, especially when it comes for lifters or people who are trying to maximize muscle gain, there have been lots and lots of meta-analyses, which is when I say meta-analyses, what I mean is any like you can write a paper-like do a research study and write a paper on it and get it published in a peer-reviewed journal. And that can be like a one-off paper, that what meta-analysis does is they take a bunch of different papers that are all published on the same topic and they analyze them as one big group. And so you can see that you know, with one small little research study, you may get certain results. But when you take all those small little research studies and you put them together as one, you know, bigger core cohort, you can get a better sense of what you know what actually is going on. And so meta-analysis tends to be a higher standard or higher perceived value than just a one-off research study. And there's been lots and lots of meta-analyses that have found that strength and size gains are reduced as the amount of cardio was increased. So the more cardio you do, the harder it is for your body to build and maintain muscle. And this makes total sense because cardio in that sense is catabolic. It causes your body to break down muscle tissue. And so for those who are trying to maximize muscle gain, for my ectomorph out there who have a really hard time building muscle, reducing cardio to the least amount possible, can be very beneficial in helping you to maximize those muscle gains.
Nutrition lever and cardio lever 34:57
So when we're asking ourselves the question, you know what's optimal for me? what's optimal for my body? What's optimal for my goals? The truth is, is that what is optimal is really the least amount needed to combine with whatever nutrition and diet that you're doing to produce the appropriate rate of fat loss. And that is why I really highly suggest a two-step approach with my clients. Meaning when they first come into Macros 101, we focus on their nutrition and I tell all my clients to keep their exercise the same, like don't change your exercise. If you're not doing any don't do any if you're doing some just keep it the same. We want to keep as many variables constant as possible while we're tweaking and adjusting with the nutrition. And so we start with that variable of nutrition and I help teach my clients again, anytime you start with just like cardio. Anytime you start with macros, it's just a starting point. And the real value from macro counting doesn't come from having a starting point and then just counting macros and magically seen in your body change, the real value of counting macros is that you have a starting point. And then you have metrics that you're looking at. And you're able to use those metrics to know how to adjust your macros over time. And that's really what I teach in Macros 101 is how to adjust your macros, so that they're customized to your body. They're customized to your goals, and they're customized to your lifestyle. And that's not just a matter of setting them once, that's a matter of setting them, receiving that feedback from your body and adjusting overtime to get there. So I start them out with that, and we and we start to maximize and get that nutrition lever pulled, and kind of try to figure out where it needs to be. And then after we've gotten very comfortable with that, we've started to get results. We're seeing how our body responds to the macros, then we can come over here and we can start to pull this cardio lever and we can start pulling that as a variable, right, we can start to use it as a variable and see how the body responds to that.
Pull one lever at a time 36:52
But I'm really big and I teach my clients a lot about pulling one lever at a time because what the mistake that most women make is when they wake up and they like to look in the mirror. And, you know, every day, they're like, Okay, this is finally like, I'm done, I can't even like, look at this anymore, I'm ready to like to start a fitness program, they want to dive in, and they want to do all the things, right, they want to start, like, they're gonna change how they eat, and they're gonna cut out all the sugar, and they're going to intermittent fast, and they're going to, you know, do five hours of cardio a week, and they're gonna start lifting weights, and it's like, all the things. And then I don't have to tell you that if you change everything, you have no idea which of those actually created the result. And so when we can really start to look at this, it's almost like a science experiment, right? I encourage my clients to put their scientist hat on, like, put your scientist hat on, and have variables and change those variables one at a time and see how your body responds to each of those variables, then we can really customize this to you over time. And so that's really what I encourage my clients to do is I teach them how to customize their nutrition to their bodies over time and I teach them how to customize their workouts to them over time.
Different types of aerobic workouts 38:03
Okay, I'm going to end the podcast episode by answering some questions, I put out a question like a Q&A box on Instagram, and you sent me some questions. So I'm going to end up answering those. But before I do that, the last thing I want to talk about is different types of aerobic workouts. And you hear these a lot in the fitness industry and in like the fitness space. And so you probably heard the term LISSC, which is low intensity steady state cardio, and the term HIIT, which is high-intensity interval cardio, or yeah, high intensity interval training, specifically, is what HIIT stands for. And so I just want to speak to those just for a minute because you're going to hear a lot of programs use that and you're going to hear a lot of, you know, people in the fitness realm use those terms, and it's important to understand what they mean.
Low Intensity Steady State Cardio (LISSC) 38:44
So, LISSC is a low intensity steady state cardio, and what it means is that if you're looking in terms of like what your heart rate is, and your heart rate max, LISSC is about 60% of your heart rate max, and it's under the steady state which means it's like, you're not changing pace, you're just it's a constant steady state. And usually, it's for you know, 30 plus minutes. And with LISSC, the important thing to understand is that LISSC doesn't tend to challenge your heart rate or your breathing or your cardiovascular system, as we talked about early in the podcast, but does not mean that it does not have a place in your fitness journey. So, first of all, it can be a place to start for a lot of people who are just starting out. LISSC is a great place to start. It's very accessible. It's, you know, easier to do. It's not necessarily too strenuous. Some people are just getting started. So it's a great place to start. But for my weightlifters, it's actually a really great place to be a part of your program for active recovery. And what I mean when I say that I talk about progressive overload in Episode 90, and how progressive overload is essentially the stress recovery adaptation cycle where your body is stressed, you lift weights, your body is stressed, microscopic tears are created in the muscle, your body then recovers and adapts by basically making those muscles stronger than they were previous to now allow them to deal with the stress that was placed upon them. So the damage that you do during lifting ends up leaving you stronger. But in order to get there, you have to recover, right, you have to have that recovery process. And if you go and try to lift again, before that recovery process is complete, you're basically just getting weaker over time because you're not allowing your body to actually rebuild and get to that stronger place. And so what LISSC can do is it can facilitate that recovery and actually shorten the time that is needed, because it boosts blood flow, right. And if you can imagine, like all of the factors that your body needs to repair and replenish and rejuvenate that tissue come through the delivery of the bloodstream. And so the more blood flow that you can get to a tissue allows that healing and that recovery process to happen a little bit faster. And so, you know and you can imagine that the shorter that time is for you to recover, the less time you need between intense workouts and thus, the better you're going to perform with them. The stronger you're gonna get, the faster you're going to get stronger. Because you're been able to shorten that recovery time down. And so LISSC can be a really good thing to implement into your, your weightlifting, to see how that impacts you with your ability to recover. And with LISSC, it's really important to recognize that 60% of your heart rate max is not super high. And so you should be able to carry on a conversation like this is where you go out and you walk or you go for an easy bike ride or you do some yoga or like something like that. I don't even know, I don't know if yoga would be considered a list. I guess some of that might. But it's something where you're able to easily carry on a conversation with somebody.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) 41:53
Now HIIT on the other end is much quicker, intense. Almost like sprint cycles of sprint's and you are typically cycling through a sprint, and then recovery and then another sprint and then a recovery. And when I say sprint, I don't just mean running, I mean an all-out exertion. So you can do HIIT on a rower, right you can go all out, recover, all-out, recover, you can do it on a bike, you can do it swimming, you can do it in a lot of different ways. And you know, as the name suggests, it is high intensity and it's done in intervals and this is what one of the benefits of HIIT, one, you can tend to get shorter, you can get more work in a shorter amount of time because of the intensity that you're putting in. And the second thing is it also creates an oxygen debt basically that your body has to balance out afterward. So you may have heard the term EPOC which is exercise post oxygen consumption. And what happens when you do HIIT is it's almost like your body gets behind with this oxygen consumption, because HIIT is anaerobic. And in order to pay off that debt, you end up with an increased metabolic rate over the next 24 hours. So you'll hear that term afterburn, where your body burns extra calories afterward, that comes from that oxygen depth that is created during a HIIT cycle. So HIIT can be very effective because it's fast. Yes, it is intense. And then we get that EPOC benefit as well over time.
Comparison between LISSC and HIIT 43:34
So when we're comparing it to LISSC, LISS is about 60% of your heart rate max. Whereas HIIT is more like 75 to 80% or even up to like 90% of your heart rate max for short, short times, right, like 30 seconds. You shouldn't be doing HIIT for four minutes. That's not HIIT. Because you can tell, this is where we go back to that like science part of the episode where I talked about the different pathways, that if you're doing something for four minutes, you're moving out of the anaerobic pathways and into the aerobic pathways, so HIIT is short, it definitely should be less than a minute and a half. Most of the time, it's less than a minute, and it's an all-out effort. And that's the important thing about HIIT. It's like an all-out effort, and then you recover, and then you do it again. And it should kind of suck, right, if you're doing it right, it should not be like necessarily a pleasant experience and that's, it is a bad exact thing that causes that like oxygen debt, and that afterburn from it.
HIIT and weight training 44:34
Now, you'll see a lot of lifters and bodybuilders using weights and then also high-intensity interval training. And that is because HIIT has a similar effect on growth hormone that lifting weights says so when you lift weights, it promotes the release of growth hormone and which obviously helps you to build, rebuild that muscle and HIIT also does a lot of the same things where it helps you to release those hormones that help you with growing muscle. So HIIT can be very beneficial in pairing it with weight training.
Question #1: Should I do fasted cardio? 45:12
Okay, let's get into some of the questions, the most common questions that I get that don't fit into any of those categories that I started with, but are questions that I get a lot. The first one is should I do fasted cardio. And when I say fasted cardio, what people typically mean is that they are going to the gym first thing in the morning without having eaten, right. So their last meal was eight, you know, 10 hours prior, and they're going and doing cardio, you know, first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. And the reason that people tend to do this is that they think that it's gonna believe it's going to promote more fat loss. And it's been touted by a lot of people to be better for fat loss. But when you look at the research that just doesn't really, it doesn't really support that fasted cardio was any better than fed cardio. And what you do find is that fasted cardio actually burns more muscle than fed cardio. And so if your goal is to gain or maintain muscle mass, doing fed cardio can actually be beneficial for you because your body has access to those amino acids, you know, the glucose and things in that food to be able to support your workout rather than having to tap into your body storage to be able to do that.
Guidelines in your fitness journey 46:33
Now, I think it's really important to understand that, again, these are guidelines, they're not rules. I don't like the rules. I don't think there should be rules in your fitness journey. I think because that's again, we're getting back to one of the things I said at the beginning of the podcast. The question of is this the right way to do it or this is the wrong way and I don't want you to be like well-fed cardio is the right way, fasted cardio is the wrong way or vice versa or whatever, instead, how much more effective would you be if you ask yourself the question, what is the most effective for me? Like what fits into my life? So how does my body respond? That is such a better question then like what is, you know, what's the right way to do it. And so, I will be honest and say that most of the time I don't eat before I workout. And the reason is, is because my body's okay with it because I have certain goals that I've set and metrics that I measure that aren't impacted by me not eating. And because it's the lifestyle that I want to create, like, that's what I prefer. That's what I like. And so I have customized that to myself, so even me understanding the research and wanting to maximize muscle and wanting to maintain it. I've taken that as a guideline, and I've applied it into my own customized journey, which for me right now means that I don't typically eat before I work out, I do sometimes, but it's not typical, I would say, five, four days, you know, four or five days out of six, I will not, not eat in the morning. And so what I really encourage you to do and this is with, like everything in fitness is to understand the research, understand the science and then have that basis to be able to apply it to your fitness journey in a way that works for you and your body and your goals and your lifestyle. And I will say that over and over and over again, because when we get stuck into this idea that there's only one right diet, and there's only one way to exercise and there's only one right way to do cardio. That is when people tend to fall apart and we get into that all or nothing mentality and then you aren't effective. Okay. So, hopefully, that helps you understand that, you know, fasted versus fed, there is some research to support that force, especially muscle you know, maintaining or gaining. It is better if it is fed cardio, but again, these are guidelines, take them and apply them to your own journey.
Question #2: Why do people tend to gain weight when they run? 45:12
Oh, here's one question that I got. And that is why people tend to gain weight when they run. And I don't know if you've experienced this, but I definitely experienced this, I actually weighed my heaviest ever during the period of time, like during the four months that I trained for and ran my marathon. And that is not an unusual circumstance. That's not an unusual thing. When I talk about that a ton of people is like, Oh my gosh, me too. Like I was my heaviest when I was running. Like, why is that? And so let's talk a little bit about, you know, maybe why that is. And there can be a couple of factors. One cardio, especially likes, more endurance style cardio, for a lot of people increases their hunger levels. And I experienced this a lot when I was training for my marathon. When I would go on those long runs, man, I would come home and I would just be starving. It was like I couldn't catch up the rest of the day. And so yeah, maybe you go out and you run 10 miles and you burn 600, maybe 700, maybe, maybe 800 calories. But then you go home and you're like I can eat whatever I want because I just ran 10 miles today, and you end up eating a lot, and that causes some weight gain. Another thing that happens is that slow cardio training. And especially like prolonged cardio training can actually increase your levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. And because it's putting stress on your system, right, and if you know anything about cortisol when it comes to weight loss, cortisol can make weight loss more difficult. It is your body being put in a stressful situation, and when your body's in a stressful situation, it wants to hold on to fat because it wants to make sure that you have enough to be able to be safe, right? It puts your body in this like, Oh my gosh, what's gonna happen? I don't know what's gonna happen. I'm gonna hold on to this fat so in case I need it, I have it and cortisol tends to make you hold on to more belly fat even. And doing long cardio like in the past, you know, the 45-minute mark can increase your amount of cortisol which can lead to challenges with weight loss. Again, guidelines, guidelines, like not rules. Not everybody is going to experience this. If you run longer than 45 minutes right now, I'm not telling you to stop. It's just, it's interesting to understand the science and then be able to take that science and apply it to your journey and how your body responds and how you feel your best and what you want to do with your life because we all have that autonomy to be able to create the results that we want to create in our life.
Question #1: How to adjust macros based on cardio? 51:32
Okay, next question. I got the question about adjusting your macros based on cardio and I'm going to say in Macros 101, I go deep into this process, I teach a very specific process to be able to allow you to customize your nutrition and then I also teach in another program, how to customize your workouts and your cardio and your lifting towards the goals that's called build your workouts. And in both of those, I teach you that process of customization. So if you are interested in learning like I talked a lot this time about that customization process, customizing your macros to your body, customizing your workouts to your body. You can get on the waitlist for Macros 101 will reopen September 21 and that's www.bicepsafterbabies.com/waitlist. And if you're interested in the build your workouts program, you can check out build your workouts at www.bicepsafterbabies.com/buildyourworkouts will also link it up in the show notes. So you can go to www.bicepsafterbabies.com/96, sends this Episode 96, and on the show notes will have everything linked up there as well. But if you're wanting to learn this customization process I talked about, you know what I've been talking about today. How do I really know? How do I read my body? How do I analyze it? How do I know what it's telling me? That is the process I teach inside of Macros 101 and then also in build your workouts and how they suggest you know if you're wanting to dive into this more, that is where I really teach this stuff on a deeper level and help you to learn how to apply it to your journey.
Question #1: How do you preserve muscle while doing cardio? 52:58
Okay, the last question I'm going to answer is how do you preserve muscle while doing cardio. So we talked a little bit about fasted versus fed cardio so eating beforehand can be beneficial. The other thing that I talked about in episode either 60 or 61, I did two episodes on supplements. And I talked about BCAAs and BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acids and you can supplementally take them as like a drink. And there's not a lot of research to support that. If you are doing fed cardio, that is taking BCAAs or if you're doing fed training that they help at all, but there is some research just to support that. If you are doing fasted, if you do choose to do fasted training then BCAA's can be protective and help reduce the amount of muscle that is lost. So if you are someone who you like doing fasted cardio, you want to do fasted cardio, it's what fits with your lifestyle, you whatever reason, consider adding some BCAAs into your morning routine to be able to help prevent some of that muscle loss and if you're wondering what kind of BCAAs I use or what I like I use Ideal lean. It's idealfit.com and I do have a coupon code with them. So if you're purchasing and you want 15% off, you can use Amber B 15. Don't forget the “B”, everybody does, and I get messages like it doesn't work. Did you remember the B? No, it's Amber B 15. And you'll get 15% off. But I love their BCAAs, they're delicious. I love their protein. I don't like their pre-workout. So pre-workout not a fan of but protein, Yes. BCAAs , Yes.
Let’s wrap up 54:33
Okay, huh! This was a long one, but I think it was a good one. And I hope that it answered a bunch of your questions when it comes to cardio and even more specifically answered a bunch of or at least gave you better questions to start asking yourself so that you can really customize cardio to your journey and what results from you want to create. Remember, we went all the way I'm going to go all the way back to the beginning of the podcast episode when I said the first thing that you need to do is figure out what your goal is, how you know whether you're there and what metrics are you going to measure because as you are adding in this cardio or as you're changing or tweaking around your cardio, you need to be looking at those metrics that you've decided. That is what is going to tell you if you are being effective or not. And if you're moving towards the metrics that you want, your heart rate is coming down, or you're losing weight, or you're feeling more energy, or whatever your metric is that you've decided, then you just keep going. And if you're not moving towards those metrics, then that's where we need to tweak and adjust and adapt. And those are the types of things that I teach in build your workouts and inside Macros 101, that's a lot of what my coaching is focused on in those programs. So hopefully, that helped you, hopefully, you can apply this to your journey and like I said at the beginning, please tag me let me know how you're taking this and then actually using it, not just sitting here listening, not just sitting here like nodding along and like you know taking notes but you're actually applying this to your journey because that, that my friend, that is where the change is made in your life. So that wraps up this episode of Biceps after Babies radio. I'm Amber now go out and be strong because remember my friend you can do anything.
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