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Can you skip cardio?

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I love running. I love bodybuilding. I keep hearing that you “can’t ride two horses”. But I do. 

True, my gains in each are probably more moderate than if I gave one up. But being fully human means making choices to move up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

If you get past the conditioning phase of cardio (whatever kind of cardio you choose, not just running), you too may learn to love it as much as you love pumping iron.  You’ll find ways to do progressive cardio. 

You can have your cake and eat it too.

People who are cardio haters have recently glommed on to the HIIT craze (high-intensity interval training). I’m working on a more elaborate article comparing HIIT to steady state cardio for fat loss, but here’s a preview: HIIT is not necessarily better for fat loss. 

Like any modality of exercise, HIIT has pros and cons. One con is that it is really hard to do properly and so most people only think they are doing HIIT – actually, they are just doing intervals.

While I think HIIT could make some sense, for some people, some of the time, I’m one of those freaks who likes long, steady-state cardio.

Regardless of HIIT vs. steady state, there’s a movement afoot that says “If you are lifting weights, you don’t need to do any cardio at all.”

Huh?

Fitness Gurus On Crack

Lots of fitness experts are saying that you should stop cardio altogether!

Why?

I think part of it is a combination of fad, lemming behavior, and marketing.

You see, people want to believe they can skip cardio.  Most people hate cardio and will believe any argument that tells them what they already want to hear.

Wouldn’t it be great to hear that you can be healthy and lean without having to do any work?

So these fitness gurus play “you can skip cardio” on their flutes, and many people start following them.

And these guys are in great shape to be sure. So if they look that good without doing cardio, it must be the ticket, right?
But if you notice, the “experts” who advocate No Cardio all seem to be under 30 years old. Heck, when I was in my 20s I could eat a pizza every day and stay pretty lean!  Not so much as I age…

And do we have proof that they don’t do any cardio?  Most of them get their cardio in other ways that they don’t even consider cardio…

Modes Of Cardio The Cardio Haters Don’t Count

Of course, it could be that they’re lying, they actually do cardio themselves. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and just say that they aren’t aware of their cardio effort. 

Remember, cardio and aerobics are not synonyms, so there are many ways to get cardio. You don’t have to do long steady-state
runs like me.

But if you read closely what the Cardio Hating Gurus are actually doing, not what they are saying, you see that they
play a pick-up basketball game a couple of times a week ordo dumbbell circuits orinclude plyometric series’ in their routines ordo barbell complexes orare on a local soccer team oretc.All of these are forms of cardio.

You might choose cross country skiing, rowing, swimming, rugby, tennis, etc. Essentially, all the forms of exercise you did as a kid as just part of normal life.

I Love Marketing, But…

Another reason some of them are saying this is that they have a product to sell. They’ve got to make a living, so they’re adopting something because they know the vast majority of people want to hear that, it almost sounds like a magic pill, “Lose weight without cardio.”  So they create the “Lose Your Belly Fat Without 1 Minute of Cardio” workout plan.

I believe everyone in the free world should applaud every honest salesman they meet.  Seriously, good salespeople make the world a better place by connecting solutions with needs.  And marketing, honest marketing, goes hand in hand with sales.

But I fear some of the gurus out there are just hopping on a bandwagon without considering the repercussions of their so-called expert advice.

Subtle Choices of Words

And lastly, if you read carefully, the more clever of them might not really be saying “get rid of cardio”. 

They might really be saying get rid of long, steady-state cardio. So they walk the fine line, parsing their words so that when challenged by true experts, or by science, they can point to their exact wording to defend themselves. 

“I wasn’t saying skip all cardio!  See, I said, in very small print as a p.s. statement, that you should still do 10 minutes of HIIT 3x a week.” Meanwhile, the other 364 days of the year they are selling the “Lose Your Belly Fat Without 1 Minute of Cardio” workout plan.

It should be obvious that I am 100% against the “drop cardio altogether” movement. I’ve never seen any science suggesting that’s a good course of action for overall health. 

You need both cardio and weight training to maintain a healthy body and amazing physique. I specifically recommend cardio as part of your routine, whether fat loss is part of your goal or not. You have nearly infinite options for how you do cardio, but you can’t skip it altogether. Don’t fall for their false promises.

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