"Cardio" vs. Conditioning


Every now and then something really grinds my gears.  Now, we all have our quirks, like when someone doesn't use a blinker, when someone doesn't eat their pizza crust, or when a bro doesn't wipe down his bench after practically giving it a bath in his sweat.  But, one of my biggest pet peeves is the use of one single term, "cardio."

A few months ago, I ranted about the difference between a workout (which is just meant to exhaust you), and training (meant to make you better).  It's a key difference, because anyone can make you sore and tired....but it takes discipline, effort, and a plan to make you better.

It probably comes as no surprise that I detest "cardio" to such heights.  I never use that word, because once again, it tends to imply that you're not really training for anything in particular.   Anyone can go hop on a treadmill or bike for 45 minutes and move their body....but what are you really working towards?  

If your answer is weight loss, then you're somewhat on the right track.  Traditional "cardio" is very good at shedding pounds....at the expense of making you weaker.

You read that correctly.   Think about it this way: your body doesn't know what you're trying to achieve, so it will eliminate any and all weight (including muscle) that it wants to, as long as you're getting better equipped to do those long, slow activities.  Next, as you lose muscle, not only will your metabolism slow down, but it becomes even easier for you to gain weight in the future, should you fall off the wagon. 

What most people want, however, is fat loss.  The remedy is strength training,  and getting stronger has proven time and time again to be the most efficient use of time at battling the bulge.

 The AirDyne looks simple....but boy, it's not easy!

The AirDyne looks simple....but boy, it's not easy!

Does this mean we don't do any fast movements that will get your heart pumping?  Far from it!   We still do what some might call "cardio," but I call it conditioning.  It's more than just semantics, as we continually work to get people stronger while they are breathing hard, sweating, and probably attaching more than a few profane words to my name.

To give you a better grasp of what we do for conditioning, here's a list that are continually used:

  • AirDyne Bike Sprints (probably the toughest conditioning tool I've ever met)
  • Kettlebell Swings
  • Heavy sled pushes (and I do mean heavy!)
  • Loaded Carries
  • Treadmill sprints (This one sounds easy as it's only 15 seconds on, and 45 off.  Only, the speed is at 10 mph....oh, and the incline is at 10 as well) 
  • As you can see,  it's all about getting people stronger while increasing their work capacity. It's short, it's intense, and man, is it uncomfortable.  

    Hopping on the elliptical and treadmill for minutes on end is a waste of time (despite what you may have heard).  Push away the mind-numbing activity and focus, instead, on getting better.