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Your NEW 'Cardio' Workout

I dislike the word 'cardio'. In fact, I never use it with my clients who come to me for weight loss. The problem is that people have been led to beleive that 'cardio' and 'aerobic exercise' are one and the same thing, which couldn't be further from the truth.

'Cardio', or cardiovascular exercise simply refers to any exercise that uses and aims to improve the efficiency of your heart and lungs. Most people would say this equates to endurance exercise on a bike or treadmill, but it also could refer to free weights in a ciruit fashion or sprinting along a track. Basically, cardio exercise is ANYTHING that elevates your heart and respiratory rate.

Aerobic exercise is more accurately defined as a form of exercise that you could peform for a prolongued period of time because it does not fatigue you quickly, because the intensity is very low to moderate. To make this as non-scientific as possible, I'll just say as a rough generalisation that if you CAN hold a conversation while exercising then its aerobic exercise you are performing.

Anaerobic exercise then is performed at a higher intensity, where you would NOT be able to hold a conversation. This is how you can tell if you are wokringhard enough to ellicit an effective response from your body (another contradiction to trainers who tell you to work to an intensity where you can still hold a conversation. Unless you have a special reason for working at that low an intensity, I don't want my clients to be able to talk. If they can, then they are wasting energy that could be put to getting 110% effort into every workout!)

In other words - you don't have to be bored on a treadmill for 45-60 minutes in order to get a good 'cardio' workout, but more on that a little later.

So, before we get to the new form of cardio you should be using, we need to understand why all this low intensity treadmill and bike exercise hasn't worked as effectively as we'd like.

You may have heard of the 'Fat Burning Zone' where you local gym instuructor will most likely tell you to work at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate to burn the most calories, and if you go more or less intense than this you wont burn as much fat.

Well here's the truth: The Fat Burning Zone is a load of rubbish (for lack of a stronger term). It is a pure myth, based on faulted logic.

It all started when scientists came to the conclusion that more fat is burned when you work at a lower intensity, which is true. Fat is broken down for energy more easily than carbs so it is used to fuel most of our everyday activities such as walking, eating, and lying down.

But the faulty logic comes when you realise that low-intensity exercise only burns a higher percentage of calories from fat. So lower intensity exercise burns more fat calories than carb or protein calories, but it burns less calories OVERALL.

Think about it, the 'science' says that working at a lower intesity will burn more calories from fat. So...this must mean that the lower the intensity the more fat is burned, right? So THAT would mean that sitting down all day doing nothing would be the best method for fat loss?

So on paper, the concept does actually seem to be beneficial initially, but the scientists who came to the FBZ conclusion were missing a vital component. That is that higher intensity exercise does burn a higher percentage of calories from carbs, and less from fats, but it burns far more calories overall, AND raised your metabolism to force your bodies to use up more energy (calories) to recouporate afterwards.

Like I've said before, its not how many calories you burn DURING exercise that counts, its how many you burn AFTER.

So, the following is an outline of a new routine to be used in place of your current cardio exercise. This has been designed to fit in with the Strength-based resistance program in my Total Body Training post. So if you are following that workout 2-3 times a week, this cardio workout will fit in perfectly with it.

Just as with the resistance training, the cardio segment of your exercise also needs to be based on causing that metabolic effect - causing the body to need more calories to repair itself, hence having to adapt by raising its metabolism and burning a far higher number of calories every day, even as you rest. Because of this, I call these type of cardio workouts 'Metabolic workouts', as they are designed to increase metabolism, not necessarily cardiovascular health (although this will increase as a side benefit).

~~ I will need to point out that if you are using a VLCD then I strongly urge you NOT to perform this workout. Your metabolism will rise and you will not be taking in enough calories to meet the increased demand from your body. In effect you are starving your body with a VLCD, and the body will react by holding onto as much fat as possible for survival, especially in the thighs and tummy. Ladies, don't say I didn't warn you...~~

(For those ofnot on a specialised diet or LCD, I usually recommend you times your bodyweight in pounds by 15 (times by 18 for men) to get your maintenanace level of calories, then subtract 10-20% from that number to get a rough estimate of how many calories you need on an intense fat loss program.)

The Metabolic Workout:

I've put together a workout based on bodyweight exercises so that you don't need to go to the gym to perform it.

Perform the following exercises in order, for 1 minute each, then rest briefly.

1a. Jumping Jacks
1b. Burpees
1c. Step ups on a box
Rest 60 seconds

2a. Press Ups
2b. Jumping Step Ups
2c. Squats
Rest 60s

3a.Star Jumps (touch the floor between your legs each time)
3b. Mountain Climbers
3c. Plank
Rest 60s

4a. Step Outs (in a half-squat position, step one leg out to the side, bring it back in, then repeat with the other leg. Keep crouched in that squat position all the way through)
4b. Uppercuts holding Dummbells
4c. Reverse Crunch
Rest 60s

To progress, each week record on a sheet of paper how many repetitions of each exercise you do in the minute. The next week try to beat the number of reps by 2 or 3.

To slot this into your schedule (assuming your performing the TBT workout) your paln would look similar to this:

Monday: TBT
Tuesday: Metabolic Workout
Wednesday: TBT
Thursday: Light exercise for recovery (maybe a brisk walk) and some stretching
Friday: TBT
Saturday: Metabolic Workout (Only perofrm half the exercises and add an exercise each week until you have two full sessions)
Sunday: Light active recovery

If you have any questions or need help with the exercises, just ask.

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Full Member
S: 10st8lb C: 10st8lb G: 9st0lb BMI: 27.1 Loss: 0st0lb(0%)
Justin this sounds fab - thank you! I will try tonight. You have saved me from dying of boredom on the bike!! Quick tip: if anyone isn't aware of the exercises, there is a site on you tube called 'exercise tv' which is very good at explaining the manouvres.
A burpee is done in the following steps:

1. Squat down until your hands are on the floor in fron of you.

2. Perform a squat thrust - jumping your legs back so they are straight (and you are in a press up position) then jumping them back in.

3. When your legs are tucked in toward your chest you stand up completely straight (and add a small jump with your hands in the air to make it a bit harder!).

4. You then go immediately into the next repetition.

Here's a video: YouTube - Burpees


Mad old Bat with Attitude
S: 14st5lb
I feel a cardiac arrest coming on!
Then just do what you can. That why I put the exercise sets as timed minutes rather than reps here. You have a minute, you may be able to do one burpee then need to rest 40 seconds before doing another.

So if you only do 2 in a minute thats fine, as long as you aim for three the next week. Going for a minute doesn't mean maximum reps, non-stop, it means you work to your own pace and intensity. But do make sure you are doing more reps if you can, push yourself a little!

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