The second leg of 4 Legs Fitness is cardiovascular training or short cardio. Cardio includes aerobic exercises that mainly aim at increasing endurance such as running, cycling, swimming or walking. There are a lot of theories and opinions around cardio training and especially the effect on strength or muscle growth, many of which are contradicting. We recommend to find out what’s best for you and what your body reacts to best.
We do offer some ideas which you can incorporate into your training. In our 4 Legs Fitness concept we leverage cardio exercises mainly for general fitness and to stimulate more effective fat loss with as little as possible impact on muscle gains.
For that purpose we recommend two types of cardio:
- High intensity interval training (HIIT), or
- Very low intensity cardio (=brisk walking).
The latter, low intensity cardio is great because it does not add additional training stress on your body. You should generally try to walk as much as possible (take the stairs instead of the lift). There is also a lot of research around fasted cardio, which is not yet conclusive regarding the real effect on fat loss. However, a recent study suggests that fasted exercise alters gene expression of certain enzymes and may stimulate your body to burn fat more effectively (source). Anyway, we like to do a fasted, brisk walk first thing in the morning one to three times a week.
High intensity interval training is very effective with respect to burning fat with less time investment (source). One of the reasons why HIIT is so effective is that it increases the post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) (source). There are many HIIT programs like Tabata but generally you should have several alternating work and rest periods. For example, after your resistance training session incorporate eight sets of 40 seconds fast spinning with 20 seconds rest (slow spinning) in between. In your work periods you should go all in and give everything you have. Some types of exercises which we like for HIIT are rowing, spinning, sprinting, rope jumping, Kettlebell swings, boxing or especially thai boxing.