Who Ever Said Lifting Heavy Things Ain’t Cardio………
is kidding themselves. Or, most likely, has never really lifted anything other than pink dumbbells or their remote control. Not too long ago, one of my female clients told me an awesome story where she was finishing up her training session at her other gym, when some older gentleman (hello Creepy McCreepypants!) approached her and said something along the lines of:
I notice you working really hard, and was wondering what program you’re following?
When my client showed him her sheet, he then asked:
This looks great, but uh, where’s the cardio?
Meanwhile, my client was literally hunched over, hands on her knees, trying to catch her breath after having completed a “finisher” of overhead med ball stomps paired with spiderman push-ups – for ten minutes. Without stopping.
She got a good chuckle out of that one, and I certainly can’t blame her. Similarly, I’m always amused whenever someone asks me how much “cardio” I do on any given week, and I see their reaction when I tell them zero, zip, nada, none.
People are often left dumbfounded when I tell them I never do any “cardio.” Of course, this isn’t to say that I never get my heart rate elevated, which, speaking technicaly, is what “cardio” really is (i.e., anything that elevates your heart rate). I elevate my heart rate all the time. Just the other day, for instance, I performed a set of ten reps with 510 lbs on the trap bar deadlift, and afterwards I felt like my left ventricle was going destroy the back of it’s pants.
I challenge anyone to tell me that that isn’t cardio. It’s not aerobic (a sustained elevated heart rate), but it is cardio.
Even still, and this is just the strength coach in me talking, I feel that “cardio” is drastically over-emphasized in today’s society. Now, before everyone starts reaching for their pitchfork, hear me out. I am not in any way saying that including some direct cardiovascular training is wrong, or a waste of time – it’s obviously a component of a well-rounded program.
All I’m saying is that I feel it’s waaaaaaay over-emphasized, and that people have no idea what the term “cardio” really means – as if all that “BRISK” incline wallking you see many people do on the treadmill six times per week while they watch The Price is Right (or Grey’s Anatomy, depending on the time of day) is somehow superior to placing a barbell on their back and squatting it.
Again, I AM NOT saying that traditional cardio is bad, or dumb, or shouldn’t be included in a program. If anything, I just want people to understand that lifting weights can be “cardio” in nature, too! You don’t have to be on a treadmill, or stair-master, or ellptical trainer for 45 minutes a day, 4-5-6 days per week, hating life, contemplating Sepuku, in order to get a cardiovascular benefit. I know I just rocked someone’s world out there, but it’s true.
So, to summarize:
1. Older guys who admit to “watching you,” is downright creepy. Nuff said.
2. Anything that elevates your heart rate is technically “cardio.” Taking it a step further, I think it’s the semantics that people often get confused on. There’s a difference between “cardio” (elevated heart rate) and aerobic (a SUSTAINED elevated heart rate). As Alwyn Cosgrove has noted on several occasions:
“Everything that’s aerobic is cardiovascular, but not everything that’s cardiovascular is aerobic.”
3. Who’s getting a gold star for pulling 510 lbs for ten reps? I AM, that’s who.
4. Traditional cardio is important – no doubt about it – but if we’re honest with outselves, I think most would agree with me that it’s over-emphasized.
5. Donna Feldman is hot.