Myths of Cardio

Are you ready to have all of your cardio questions answered? To have all the controversy solved once and for all? Get answers from experienced fitness professionals who learn and teach this stuff for a living? Well, just keep reading! Ready? Here we go:

Q: Does cardio mean jogging on a treadmill or going on an elliptical for a really long time?
A: No.

Q: Is cardio the same as Crossfit?
A: No.

Q: Do I have to become a runner to do cardio?
A: No.

Q: Is it a rule that I have to do cardio to lose fat?
A: No. 

Q: Will doing cardio make me lose all my GAINZ?
A: No.

Q: Is cardio all I need to do to be healthy and fit?
A: No.

Q: If I’m female, is cardio all I should be doing?
A: No.

Q: Does walking to the fridge between Netflix episodes count as cardio?
A: No. 

Q: Do I HAVE to do cardio?
A: No.

 

Controversy solved! Wasn’t that great?? So glad we had this talk.

Joking aside, what we hope becomes apparent from reading this list of common myths is that there is no clear definition of what the word “cardio” actually means. Lack of a commonly agreed-upon definition for a particular term makes the situation ripe for misunderstanding and controversy. This goes for everything, not just fitness-related stuff. Words matter! What do we actually mean when we use certain words and phrases, such as “cardio”?  Before we can answer questions about cardio, we need to define it so we know what we are actually talking about.

A Google search of “what is cardio?” garners over 8 million results. Some of the definitions that pop up include:

“Cardiovascular exercise.” Wow, that’s helpful.

“Endurance exercises that strengthen the heart and blood vessels.” More specific, but is that all there is to it?

“Any exercise that raises your heart rate.” By this definition, our whole Netflix and walking to the fridge thing would qualify as cardio after all.

“Cardio is the most common form of weight loss exercise.” Debatable, and that doesn’t actually define what cardio means.

As you can see, there isn’t really a clear definition here. So we have come up with our own definition. You don’t have to agree with it – it’s just a working definition that we have created to hopefully help clear up some of the myths surrounding cardio.

Our definition of cardio is any method of training that improves the body’s ability to produce sufficient energy to accomplish a particular task.

In order to be able to produce the energy needed to accomplish any activity, the body has to be able to:

·      take in sufficient amounts of oxygen (strong breathing muscles, efficient breathing mechanics)

·      transport that oxygen into the bloodstream (quick delivery of oxygen from lungs to blood vessels)

·      move the blood to the working muscles as fast as possible (strong heart)

·      take up that oxygen into the muscles as efficiently as possible (fast oxygen transfer from capillaries into muscle cells)

·      utilize that oxygen within the muscle as efficiently as possible (efficient inside-cell chemical processes)

As you can see, there’s a little more to it than just getting the ol’ heart rate up!

Now, to bring all of this back to a more practical level, what activities could we use to improve the body’s ability to produce energy at all of those different levels? 

Could we use running? Yes.

Could we use strength training? Absolutely.

Could we use cycling, swimming, pushing a super heavy sled, going for a hike, or doing high intensity intervals? Sure.

 

The key factor here is not necessarily the method of exercise used, but the intent of the training, the stimulus being sent to the body, and the resulting adaptation that we see as a result.

 Are the adaptations from running going to be the same as those from strength training? No, because they are two different stimuli to the body, and will produce a different response. However, could you use specific running methods to improve the body’s ability to take in oxygen? And use specific strength training methods to improve the body’s ability to utilize oxygen within muscle cells? Most definitely.

The key takeaway is that both of these activities can improve the body’s ability to produce energy to accomplish a task. It simply comes down to application – how they are being used. Thus, according to our definition, they are both being used as “cardio”.

Moral of the story: any activity that makes your body better at producing the energy needed for the task you want to do – whether that be running a marathon, playing recreational sports, or playing with your kids – is “cardio”. What form that “cardio” takes simply depends on what your individual body most needs to accomplish the tasks you most want to do. 

Don’t get us wrong, cardio is not bad! Doing only cardio at the expense of strength training, or taking a will-nilly approach to doing cardio – this is where we tend to go wrong. But training the body’s ability to produce energy is a crucial part of a well-rounded approach to fitness and health, and should not be overlooked. Cardio just needs to be programmed well (with individual needs and goals in mind), and done purposefully so that we get the desired adaptations in the body.

SVPT Trainer, Erica Saunders

 

5 Pillars of Strength

Strength is for everyone.

A good house always has a solid foundation.  We believe in building a solid foundation by mastering five strength movements.  By mastering these basics, we lay the foundation for more complicated lifts, injury prevention and above all else, LIFE!  Because isn’t fitness about creating a more adventurous life?

Over the last five weeks we have shared with you the principles of how we build a client up, and build the foundation.  Each training session with our clients always includes all or most of the 5 Pillars, in some form or variation:

  • Hip Hinge
  • Pushing
  • Pulling
  • Squat
  • Loaded Carry

Let us help you learn to build your house.  Book your FREE assessment today!

The Loaded Carry

A loaded carry is essentially a loaded walking plank – all the core that you can imagine using in everyday life! Loaded carries are important because every day we walk while carrying things – groceries, kids, suitcases, etc. The act of carrying heavy things over a distance is the most functional and fundamental movement. Like all of our other pillars, this movement is for ALL fitness levels and ages because of the transfer to everyday life.

It teaches how to create tension and brace your core for other more demanding compound lifting. Loaded carries are great for training the grip, building muscle, work capacity, core strength, coordination, and even improving function of the shoulder girdle. They really do offer something for everyone!

Loaded Carry Options (Based on Needs from Assessment)

  • Farmer’s Walk (Dumbbells or Kettlebells or Trap Bar)
  • Suitcase Carry (Dumbbells or Kettlebells)
  • Goblet Carry (Dumbbell or Kettlebell)
  • Sandbag Front Carry
  • Kettlebell Racked Carry
  • Overhead Kettlebell Carry

We progress carries based on the client’s ability, but many end up progressing to fun carry variations that include off-set weight (2 different weights in each hand), barbell carries with banded kettlebells, carries with bands for extra instability, and so much more.

The Squat

Squats are a hip, knee, and ankle dominated action that happens more than any other movement in everyday life.  When done properly, squats improve knee stability and strengthen connective tissue.  While its primary focus is leg strength, squats can be a whole-body exercise when done correctly – leg and hip strength, core strength and depending on the squat variation, upper body strength and stability.

Squats are also one of exercises that is frequently performed incorrectly.  Before squatting with weight, we always clean up the client’s the squat pattern with correctives such as hip, ankle and thoracic spine mobility, and core strength and stability.

Next to bending over, like in the hip hinge, we squat every single day without really realizing it.  A good squat can give you an easier life!

Squat Options and Progressions (Based on Needs from Assessment)

  • Bodyweight Squats
  • Goblet Squats
  • Kettlebell Front Squats
  • Barbell Squats (Front and Back)
  • Zercher Squats

Single Leg Options

  • Bodyweight Split Squats
  • Goblet Split Squats
  • Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats
  • Single Leg Squats to Bench

It’s important to train squats unilaterally (single leg) because life doesn’t always happen on two legs. Training on one leg helps to even out any strength imbalances, as well as works stabilizing muscles and balance. Most people tend to use one side of their body more than the other in everyday life and this bias can be intensified if you only train on two legs.

The Pull

Pulling movements work the muscles in your back, which are the muscles that help create better posture.  Working on computers, texting, driving and excessive sitting create weak back muscles that can contribute to neck and back pain.

Poor posture is one of the issues we see in almost every client, and we make sure that we put a focus on pulling movements to help strengthen the muscles of the back that can pull you into better posture.

The pulling muscles also work with the pushing muscles to help create an all-around stronger, stable and injury free upper body.  Pulling movements are also important because the muscles in the back of our body are the stabilizers for bigger lifts, such as deadlifts.

Like the pushing movements, pulling can be done vertically and horizontally.  The most well-known vertical pull is a chin up, or pull up, and the most common horizontal pulling movement is the row.

Pulling Options (Based on Needs from Assessment)

  1. TRX Pull Up or Row (Horizontal)
  2. Dumbbell Chest Supported Row (Horizontal)
  3. Dumbbell or Kettlebell Unsupported Row (Horizontal)
  4. Assisted Pull Ups or Chin Ups (Vertical)
  5. Cable or Strength Band Pulldowns (Vertical)
    1. Standing
    2. Half Kneeling
    3. Tall Kneeling

We also progress to single arm variations, based on ability.

Be sure to try to include both a vertical and horizontal pulling movement in your training program.

The Push

Pushing movements focus on the muscles on the front of the upper body. Learning pushing movements will help with learning scapular control and stability (shoulder girdle). When you have great shoulder stability and strength, you can progress to more complicated lifts and prevent injury. Pushing movements come in two forms – vertical and horizontal.

The most popular and basic of all pushing movements is the push-up. Other more popular pushing movements include shoulder press and bench press. We build clients up by starting clients with an elevated push up to teach shoulder and core control, as well as the landmine for a controlled range of motion for shoulder pressing.

To add more challenge, we eventually progress a client to using kettlebells because there is more demand for stability and they are just fun!

Pushing Options (Based on Needs from Assessment)

  1. Torso Elevated Push Up (Horizontal)
  2. Dumbbell Bench Press (Horizontal)
  3. Landmine Shoulder Press (Vertical)
    1. Standing
    2. Tall Kneeling
    3. Half Kneeling
  4. Bottoms Up Kettlebell Press (Vertical)
    1. Standing
    2. Half Kneeling
    3. Tall Kneeling

We also progress to single arm variations, based on ability.

Be sure to try to include both a vertical and horizontal pushing movement in your training program.

The Hip Hinge

The hip hinge is a hip dominant movement, with minimal knee bend, focusing on the posterior chain strength while teaching to dissociate the hip from the lumbar spine.   We feel it’s the most important of all the movements because when mastered it can create a more expansive exercise tool box.  Every day we bend over to lift things, so learning to hinge your hips properly, will save you from injury and allow you to do more activities, safely.

Hip Hinge Progressions

  • Dowel Hip Hinge
  • Kettlebell Deadlift (1 or 2 Kettlebells)
    1. Kettlebell Swings
  • Trap Bar Deadlift
  • Barbell Deadlift

 

*We also progress to single leg deadlifts/hinges because it’s important to be able to move through each hip separately.

What can mastering the hip hinge do for you?

  • Teach you to bend over properly without using your back
  • Strengthen the glutes and hamstrings that become weak from sitting too much

Introducing the 5 Pillars of Strength

Strength is for everyone.  Every single person can benefit from strength.  But to get you strong, we first need to make sure you move properly.   A good house always has a solid foundation.

The SVPT way is mastering the strength basics, and building the foundation.  Building a solid foundation of proper movement ensures great mechanics for more complicated lifts, injury prevention, and above all else a more adventurous life!  We build you up from the ground up by getting you do the basics exceptionally well.

So, what are the basic strength movements that we get our clients to master, to help build that foundation?

  • Hip Hinge
  • Push (Vertical and Horizontal)
  • Pull (Vertical and Horizontal)
  • Squat
  • Loaded Carries

Once our clients have mastered these basics, in a unilateral (one arm/one leg) and bilateral  (two arms/two legs) form, we progress them to more complex movements and lifts.

What is the SVPT way?

Welcome to our first blog!  We are excited to be starting a blog and video blog series to share what we are about, and what we do.

You will see in our posts we hashtag #theSVPTway.  Maybe it’s time to explain.

Simply put, #theSVPTway is our fitness philosophy and our culture.  It’s what sets us apart from our competitors and makes us #1 in Edmonton.

We believe in bringing out the potential of every individual who walks through our doors.  We recognize that not everyone is at the same ability level, and that progressions and regressions need to be made accordingly. We do this by simply caring about our folks as people first.  Every person is different, and every person has different needs, goals and lifestyles.

We start by building you from the ground up.  Every well-built house has a solid foundation.   Our foundation starts with teaching the basics, and that’s where we separate ourselves from those who simply deliver workouts rather than teaching movement.  But our philosophy doesn’t stop with just teaching the basics, it then becomes about mastery, and doing these ordinary things extraordinarily well.

It’s not about being flashy or sexy, cool, or stylish – it’s about these core fundamental skills, built around challenging fitness fun.  Mastering the basics prevents injury, slows aging and builds a body that allows you to live a fuller life. When you move better, you live better.  Isn’t that what fitness is supposed to be about? Living a better and more full life, because you are physically able to.

The SVPT way is not a rigid system that stifles creativity and fun.  While our fitness philosophy is about mastering the basics to build a foundation, once that base competency is there, it opens up a huge selection of movements to then explore and play with.  Fitness can be challenging, as it should be, but it can also be enjoyable.  It’s our job to make sure you enjoy what you are doing and teach you why you are doing it.  Don’t get us wrong, teaching proper movement is serious business, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be both fun and rewarding!

When you walk through the doors of SVPT, you feel welcome, motivated and inspired to become a better version of YOU, in a training environment that is not intimidating or exclusive.   No matter what your fitness level is, you will feel like you belong there because all fitness levels train together – from beginner to athlete.   Every client of ours is on their own journey and we have created a positive environment for you to get there.

We welcome you to give #theSVPTway a try and see what we are all about.