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By: Cory Gregory
People get lean in many ways. One option to get ripped quickly is High-Intensity Training (HIT) cardio. It usually consists of 12-15 minute sessions, 5 days per week. You can also get lean walking on an incline on a treadmill for 60 minutes per day. To keep it fresh, mix things up. Cardio isn’t a breeze, and it can be a serious grind. But DO NOT let your cardio stagnate.
For one diet phase, try HIT or an incline walk before breakfast and do the other after your workout. People can get lean on minimal cardio, but usually their diet is strictly on point. If you’re a little behind on your progress and conditioning, a “catch-up cardio” program might be best.
HIT cardio works wonders but can also take its toll. The 60-minute cardio also works but consumes a lot of time. Ultimately, combining these tactics will yield the most hard-conditioned look. Here’s an effective weekly Cardio Breakdown:
For the HIT cardio, do a 5-minute warmup, say a light jog on the treadmill, then REALLY get after it. On the treadmill, do an all-out sprint on the treadmill (10-12 mph) for 15 seconds, then jump off for 10 seconds. Alternate between these two for 12-20 minutes. Obviously, if you’re a beginner with this, start slower and limit yourself to 12 minutes, then gradually increase both speed and duration. During your 60-minute session, walk at a very high grade at 4.0 mph. You’ll work up an incredible sweat.
If you need results now, a catch-up could be your go-to cardio plan. It’s been used like this many times—even daily, for stretches around two weeks—to help people dial in for shoots and shows. For many, their heart rate moves to the correct zone immediately during catch-ups. Start on the treadmill by walking at a high incline—say, 15 percent—roughly four mph for five minutes. Then lower the elevation to zero and run five minutes at around eight mph. Alternate these for 60 minutes a day and the fat should just melt off your body. Obviously, that’s a lot of additional cardio, so do it for no more than two-weeks at a stretch. Even then, you could feel flat at times. But on the bright side, it always gets you tight. If you’re behind schedule for that shoot or show, try a catch-up.
During the contest phase, once your metabolism speeds up and your diet is on point, it’s best to monitor how you look and feel. It’s tough keeping the body in the zone. While you’re trying this, also do everything you can to keep your hormones in check. Everyone over-trains from time to time—it’s common in natural athletes– so it is imperative to watch how you feel as well as your recovery. As long as you’re getting lean and you’re on pace for the event, it’s fine to back off a bit to let your hormones catch up. It depends on the person, but it’s possible to get an even harder look without extensive cardio.
Ideally, cardio should be done once a day while keeping carbs low and your diet tight. People doing cardio twice a day usually take in more carbs. Again, cardio takes up a lot of time and many just don’t have it because their family or business comes first. For drug-free athletes, a better option than endless cardio is relying on your diet and supplementation, while putting in just enough cardio to keep your cortisol levels from skyrocketing.
Best-case scenario: one gets ripped by rolling out of bed, taking Shred Matrix™, doing HIT cardio, then eating breakfast. A.M. cardio can shoot your metabolism through the roof and get you tight super fast. For many, early cardio is most effective, but it doesn’t fit everyone’s schedules. Post-workout cardio is effective, too, but most believe that getting the heart pumping first thing is the key to looking their best.
When it comes to improving your cardio program, the biggest elements are listening to your body and training hard every day. The most common goal is getting in the best condition possible without sacrificing size. If you end up leaner AND bigger, get ready for a good showing, either on stage or at your shoot.
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