postheadericon No cardio (for a month, anyway)

No cardio – that’s right. I am going to experiment, just for a month, with a no cardio regimen. What is causing me to make this decision that many fitness enthusiasts would say is not productive and possibly even unhealthy? Plain and simple – a slump. I have been in a bit of a workout slump for a little while, in part because of a time/schedule situation which required me to cut back on workouts overall for a few weeks. But it isn’t just that. I have often taken breaks from lifting, usually for a week or so. Most of the time, I returned to the gym with a new energy for lifting and was often happy to see that my strength had increased from the additional rest. But I almost never take a significant break from cardio. And I am starting to wonder if the break I feel I need is not from strength training, but from cardio, both steady-state training and high intensity. Not that I don’t love a good run or a butt-kicking HIIT workout, but perhaps a rest from just cardio while maintaining strength training will help me to accomplish my short term goals – to lose a few pounds, get better defined, and have more energy.

So why are so many people saying no to cardio? A couple of reasons. First, muscle has a higher caloric requirement than fat just to maintain itself. The more muscle on the body, the more calories consumed, even while resting. This means that highly muscled individuals often maintain their weight better than people who don’t have as much muscle. So more muscle = better weight maintenance. How do we get more muscle? – strength training. Second, many people believe that cardio, especially long duration exercise, causes inflammation in the body, increases the production of stress hormones, and destroys the muscle acquired after many hard hours in the gym. Why work so hard to get something only to destroy it? Especially if it might lead to other problems, such as inflammation and fatigue.

I do believe a variety of cardio routines, including HIIT and even steady state on occasion, have their place in a healthy lifestyle. And cardio training DOES help heart health, after all. So eventually, I am sure I will introduce it into my life again. But until July 4, which will be an easy date to remember, I am going to strength train three times per week and not do any intentional cardio workouts. If I have an opportunity to go for a walk or a hike, I will, but I am not planning any specific exercise, especially high intensity activities. So that I only have one variable to deal with, I am not going to change my sleep patterns or my diet significantly, other than to maintain my current effort to eat pretty clean. Wish me luck – I’ll let you all know in a month how it turned out.

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