Now that I am a month into my new training, it occurred to me that it may be time to re-evaluate my cardio routine. I know that cardio is an important part of a complete fitness routine, but given all of the weight training I have added, it was time to ask "How much is too much?"
Not All Cardio is Created Equal
Not only has my weight training changed, but since the beginning of the year, I also have been doing bootcamp twice a week. And despite the fact that it will also work the muscles like weight training, it is very much a cardio workout. Typically we are burning somewhere between 500 - 1000 calories per class and my heart rate is well into my cardio range during the entire class. A bootcamp, and any HIIT type workout, is one of the most intense types of cardio and tends to burn the most calories. It also puts a lot more stress on your body overall given that these classes are designed for full body engagement at high intensity levels with only short periods of rest.
In addition to my new found love for Be Fit Bootcamp, I also love my outdoor cardio sessions. They are not only about the physical exercise but also a mental relaxation time for me. So I actually crave that time everyday to the point where I have found myself seriously jonesing during these past few weeks of on and off rain in MB since I havent been able to get outside nearly as much as I would like.
My outdoor cardio is basically a power walk. I pace my walks using my Apple watch and generally stick to a calorie and target heart rate goal for each session. For the past year or so, I have targeted 300 calories per walk and an average heart rate range between 130 - 145. And, as I said, I do this as many days per week as I can get out there. Come to find out that nowadays, given my changes in routine, this is likely counterproductive.
Less is MORE
After a few bouts of allergy attacks and chest colds of late, I felt like I may be overdoing it. Of course, all of the work we have been doing at the gyms and the Studio (plus other projects I have going on) don't help, but I started to think that I may be overworking my body in general. I decided that it was time to discuss with my trainer Shel Simmons.
It turns out that, the answer is YES....I am trying to do too much in general but my continued cardio routine is definitely not helping me at the moment. According to Shel, not only do I not need any additional cardio since I am doing bootcamp twice a week, I am likely hindering my progress as a result!
It all comes down to cortisol. All stress creates cortisol....even the stress put on your body by working out. And while I am also walking for the mental relaxation aspect, I am likely not reducing my cortisol levels even though I feel more relaxed afterwards because I am overworking my body.
But I Really Do LOVE My Walks
So Shel suggested that I keep my walks, but significantly reduce my target heart rate and calorie goal for those walks. Instead of targeting 130 - 145 bpm, try to stay below 120 bpm or even 115 bpm if possible. This way, I can still get the mental relaxation benefits and actually lower my cortisol levels at the same time.
In the end, the point that Shel stressed the most was to trust and listen to my body. If I feel like I am working it too hard, I almost certainly am. Don't be afraid to take the day off if I feel more tired or sore than usual, and don't stress about it.
It's Actually Working!
This is my 1st week trying out a slower pace and it is definitely a bit of a struggle after years of pushing myself, but I can report that I am already seeing a difference. I have noticed changes in my muscle tone and even a flatter belly!