New Way to Torch Fat: Cardio Strength Training
People often view strength training and cardio work as inherently different, not part of an integrated system. Some advocates of strength training all but ignore cardio and vice versa. Both are important, of course. In his new book, Cardio Strength Training, Robert dos Remedios, MA, C.S.C.S., provides an intense but simple strength program that packs a cardio wallop. Dos Remedios is the head strength and conditioning coach at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California. He spoke recently with CorePerformance.com.
Core Performance: Why is it people can’t seem to get past this notion of cardio work as long, plodding activity?
Robert dos Remedios: The general public has been force fed this notion that with any kind of aerobic or fat burning activity, if you can’t have a conversation then you’re going too hard. We know now that’s the furthest thing from fat burning, but people don’t want to get out of their comfort zones. They might look at the programs in this book and think, “Wow, a session that’s only five or ten minutes long.” But it’s going to take them way out of their comfort zone.
CP: At the same time, you don’t want to neglect aerobic fitness, right?
RDR: Right, but what we see from the research is that you can get better aerobic gains from these interval style workouts. So we know there’s a mechanism that’s occurring during the rest and recovery phase that your body uses to get back to normal. We’re not neglecting anything when we train this way, that’s for sure.
CP: So how does the program work?
RDR: The one thing I’d pull from the book is the idea of a complex, the big daddy of all cardio strength. With that, you’re taking several typical movements like a squat, lunge or push press and doing them back-to-back-to-back with a sub-maximal load. The whole idea is to elicit this metabolic process where we’re going to push the pace and have these sets last from 45 seconds to two minutes depending on how advanced you are and have these rest periods to allow you to recover just enough to do another set.
We’re not trying to do a lot of different exercises or take you out of that comfort zone of movements you’re used to. But we are going a different route, and instead of focusing on the hypertrophy [muscle building] or traditional ideas of what you bring to the gym, let’s do this from a metabolic perspective. That way we get this incredible cardio workout that won’t have any ill effects on our lean body mass, which is what none of us want. Yet that’s what you see with people who go overboard on their aerobic activity with these two hour jaunts on the Stairmaster that neglect the vital muscle mass on the body.
RDR: We do a lot of body weight lunges, jumps and combinations and that’s a great metabolic effect. The great thing about this type of training is that you can take both ends of the spectrum, from the untrained to advanced person, and use everything from body weight to a weighted vest and kettle bells. Or you can just push the pace. The circuit you mentioned is part of the "24's" where you do 24 reps of each exercise in order without resting. Start with 12 of each, and progress overtime to 15, 20, and then 24. It’s a great circuit to finish a workout.
CP: It seems like you really made an effort in the book to keep things simple with old-school movements.
RDR: People always ask about the best exercises. Think about some of the old calisthenics like squat jumps and burpees. Those are tremendous exercises and when you do them with enough intensity, you get an incredible metabolic effect. For example, try a “countdown” of squat jumps and burpees. Start with 10 squat jumps, go immediately into 10 burpees, and then rest for 10 seconds. Continue this pattern for a set of 9, then 8, 7, 6, and 5. When you hit 5 reps, eliminate the rest completely. So you’ll go from 5 burpees right into 4 squat jumps and continue back and forth down to 1. If that's too hard, start anywhere between 5 and 8 reps, and work down from there.
About The Author
Pete Williams – Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.