Contest Prep & Cardio

December 13th, 2009 by

A lot of your clients have very little cardio in prep compared to a lot of competitors. How do you achieve this without calories getting to low?

For example my maintenance calories are about 2200 with fairly large cheat meal once a week. If i didn’t do a lot of cardio by the end of prep i would be at about 500 calories. With different approaches with food and cardio and trainers I have NEVER lost more than a pound a week during prep and most times i got up the the 2-hour cardio mark. Most weeks it was 1/2 lb or less even before the cardio got high.

I have said this in much more blunt terms in the past, but I firmly believe that no one HAS to do the quantity of cardio so commonly seen in competitive circles. I’ve literally never had anyone do it. Nor will I ever do it. I’ve also taken people who believed this was the only way they could get in shape, asked them to trust me, and showed them another way. They won’t go back.

I feel if, and I don’t say this to step on anyone’s toes, someone feels they have to do this, that something is not optimized in the diet if that volume of cardio is all that gets results. That’s just my opinion.

For example, a top ranked pro fitness competitor doing 4 hours/day on 900 calories. Would one say that worked? I’d say it sure doesn’t seem like it. 28 hours and no food to drop how much fat per week? Given the calories in a single pound of fat, that doesn’t seem like it worked to me.

I also really don’t like the cardio because the majority of the huge cardio proponents suffer the worst rebounds post-contest. It’s like their bodies are programmed for fat storage once the calories become available again.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against cardio – I am against what is commonly used in prep circles – hours upon hours and doubles after doubles.

As to the second part of the question, that almost seems like a contradiction if I’m interpreting that properly.

If you have a high maintenance, why would you have to drop calories extremely low if not for the high volume cardio?

As for the pound/week, I don’t like using scale weight as the sole barometer of progress since fat loss isn’t generally a linear phenomenon. And as you get closer and closer and bodyfat is lower and lower, dropping a pound a week can even be too much since fat loss gets progressively slower/harder the less you have remaining on your body.