When you think of cardio, you probably think of the gym in January, with loads of people struggling endlessly on their cardio equipment, whilst scrolling through their Instagram. You’d probably burn more calories just staying on your couch. If after an endless hour of cardio you magically see 500 kcal appearing on your screen, it will probably be mitigated by 3000 kcal that you eat on a Saturday evening. Chasing calories is therefore never a good idea.
The cardio I mean makes you stronger, faster, more conditioned, and improves your stress resilience, it speeds up your recovery and prepares you to tackle all the challenges in life head-on. We call this form of “cardio” conditioning. Conditioning is done for athletes so that they can perform at their best during competitions. But shouldn’t you also be able to perform at your best on a daily basis ..? Good condition will help you with;
- More Energy
- Losing weight
- Stress resilience
Conditioning improves oxygen supply to your muscles, oxygen that is badly needed for the conversion of nutrients into usable energy for the body (ATP). Conditioning also ensures the production of more type 1 muscle fibers, which contain a large number of mitochondria. These small organelles can be found in up to thousands in every cell of your body and within this the actual process of producing (aerobic) energy takes place. The mitochondria are therefore also called the power plants of your body. The more mitochondria you have in your body, the better you are able to produce energy on a daily basis.
2. Losing weight
Having more and improved power plants has another important advantage because you are automatically better able to burn your body fat. With conditioning, you actually ensure that you not only burn fat during a training session but also when you sit, sleep or work. So you turn your body into an actual fat-burning machine!
Losing weight and improved energy will in itself have a positive effect on your overall health. An additional advantage is that cardio provides vasodilation (the widening of your blood vessels), which will also lower your blood pressure. A reduction of -5 mmHg systolic blood pressure is already associated with a reduction of 7% less risk of cardiovascular disease.
4. Stress resilience
The physiological response of your body when you experience physical or mental stress stems from a time when we still had daily danger from, for example, a saber-toothed tiger. When we came face to face with a tiger, our body had to be able to respond quickly, for example by increasing your heart rate and releasing energy to fight or flee. This “fight or flight” response of our body takes energy, and it takes a lot of energy to recover from it.
Nowadays we are constantly put to the test, which can lead to a “fight or flight” response time and again. Having an improved condition, therefore, ensures that we can recover faster when we experience stressors and avoid an accumulation of stress
After strength training, you will hopefully have caused some damage to your muscles, which will probably lead to muscle pain for a few days. It is not that this muscle pain just magically disappears, your body is working hard to repair this damage without you noticing. This repair process costs, you guessed it .. Energy! An improved condition cq. improved energy production also ensures an improved recovery capacity. When you recover faster you can train more often and harder, so cardio is really bad for your #gains?
Your body is continuously working very hard for you without you noticing it. It is therefore important that we also enable the body to maintain these processes as well as possible. Improving your energy production is an important part of this. This will ultimately benefit your work performance, fatigue, fat burning, stress resistance and even your muscle mass!