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Scott Abel is one of the premier strength and conditioning coaches in Canada. He's trained over 300 bodybuilding and fitness champions.
Metabolic Enhancement Circuits
QUESTION: When cutting up for a show, what’s the best type of cardio and at what intensity do you recommend?
ANSWER: Ah yes, the cardio bugaboo: time for bodybuilders to step into the 21 century. I’m assigning less and less traditional cardio now than ever. In a calorie deprived situation the more cardio someone does, the bigger the risk to losing muscle. And doing it for long periods at low intensity really illustrates a complete lack of understanding of the energy systems. I’ve been successfully using metabolic enhancement (MET) circuits now and varying program design in such a way that less and less cardio is needed if at all. Recently I’ve begun using what I call “sequential activation” based on observing certain positions in other sports where players exhibit a higher lean body mass. So I introduce short circuit types of moves but they are oriented in very specific sequences. This has been producing great results. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) cardio is being overprescribed, leading to burnout. Again, in a calories controlled situation, this can deflate muscles as well. For some reason, Figure coaches are particularly guilty of just randomly assigning cardio way too often for way too long a duration. I had two Figure girls win pro cards last year. Neither one did any traditional cardio. But when and if I do assign it, it’s individualized and based on the client’s “needs state” and not some arbitrary assignment. Real coaches need to get real about coaching. And this means individualization.
Editors Note: Strength coach Charles Poliquin has some interesting info to add to the "best type of cardio" debate. Click HERE to see what his take is on it all.
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