I hate cardio. I know that many weightlifters hate cardio.
I do love riding my bike out in parks and along the roads, but when it comes to those cardio machines, I hate them! They are works of the devil, i.e. torture devices!
If you look at all the men and women on the treadmill, cross-trainer and bikes in the gym, you’ll notice that they all look kind of like hamsters. 🙂
(Thanks to http://www.startheoryradio.com/feed/ for the image)
We all know that cardiovascular exercise is essential for good health and so I always make sure I incorporate it into my day. Many traditional “bodybuilders” train all their muscles but neglect the most important, their heart!
Olympic lifting can be cardio!
Surprisingly (and I wasn’t aware of this until I started training these lifts myself), a huge benefit of Olympic lifting is its effect on the cardiovascular system. In both lifts, the Snatch and the C&J, the bar is moved from the floor to overhead, covering a distance which could well be 7 feet. A challenging set of either snatches, cleans or cleans and jerks gets my heart rate up as though I’d been sprinting.
High rep Olympic lifting
If you’re like many lifters out there who love lifting weights and hate cardio, why not use your Oly lifting training to reap the cardio benefits? I know that when I do 3-5 sets of 5+ reps I am sweating, breathless and sometimes a little lightheaded! All this is achieved without even going near the treadmill or bike.
Cardio to me means having your heart rate elevated for an extended period of time – through high rep sets my heart rate is definitely elevated. At the end of the sets, my heart rate is still very fast.
A word of warning: it will be tough. 😉
Get cardio in but build strength at the same time
Olympic-style lifts are excellent at generating strength. If getting good at Olympic lifting is your goal, then you should dedicate 90% of your time in the gym toward it. Strength and skill must be trained as the majority of your work if those are your goals. But as I explained above, it is possible to make your Olympic lifting a form of cardio.
Another great thing about using Olympic lifting as cardio is that it will help you improve your form. By doing lots of reps and sets regularly, you’ll become more confident and more aware of the technical aspects of the lifts.
Olympic lifting for fat loss
The human body is built in one piece. By lifting the bar from the floor to overhead, all the muscles are utilised. This means there’s a big calorie burning effect! Moving weights helps to maintain and grow muscle, as opposed to cardio exercises such as running which may arguably burn your muscle away…
As a form of HIIT…
You might have heard of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). In simple terms, HIIT involves working at maximal (or very, very near maximal) effort for a short period of time, and then allowing your heart to return to a slower more normal rate, and then repeating this process several times.
Many people consider HIIT to be the most effective form of cardio for fat loss.
The reason I’m mentioning it here is that when you do a high number of repetitions and sets of either the snatch or the C&J, it’s a form of HIIT.
To summarise, the workout could be like this:
- Work hard for 10-30 seconds (this could be around 3-5 reps of the chosen lift)
- Rest for an extended period of time (depending on exertion, this could be anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes) or until your heart rate normalises
- Repeat around 3-5 times (this is the number of sets of the lift)
The Olympic lifts are perfect for this kind of HIIT training!
To sum up, if you hate traditional forms of cardio then why force yourself to do it? If you love lifting weights, why not make also make weight lifting your cardio? By training sensibly and understanding what you are doing in the gym can help you achieve the benefits of cardiovascular exercise, as well as build up your strength. By training the Olympic lifts more regularly, you will improve your technique as well.
No treadmill needed!
(Thanks to http://bestweightliftingshoes.com/why-are-running-shoes-wrong-for-weightlifting/ for the image)