Archive for the tag - Cardio

You’re Using The Elliptical Wrong.

elliptical-machine-2302Oh, the elliptical.

I don’t want to crap on such a beloved piece of gym equipment. After all, it’s a great, low-impact option particularly for people with knee injuries or issues. And it’s certainly a better option than sitting on your couch eating potato chips. But when we talk about workout efficiency and effectiveness, most people aren’t using the elliptical to it’s full potential.

You’re probably using the elliptical wrong if:

  1. You think it’s easy.
  2. You can have a conversation while using it.
  3. You can easily read a book or follow a TV show while on it.
  4. You spend more than 30 minutes using the elliptical.
  5. You don’t break a sweat during your workout.

Unlike the treadmill (where you can set a speed and force yourself to push hard), the elliptical is more self-motivated. You may start out hard on the elliptical, but there are no consequences for slowing down or slacking off. With a treadmill, on the other hand, if you slack off – you fall off.

This isn’t to say that you can’t have an amazing, efficient workout on an elliptical. It’s possible. But it requires being extremely focused and strategic. Here’s how to use the elliptical properly:

  1. Crank up the resistance. You only get out of your workout what you put into your workout – and resistance will increase the intensity of your elliptical session. Use it!
  2. Monitor RPMs. Though you can’t set speeds like a treadmill, monitoring your RPMs is the second best. Pick an RPM level that you find challenging – and stick to it. Keep pushing yourself to stay above it.
  3. Shut up and crank up. If you’re chatting with your neighbor, this is an indication that you have additional untapped lung capacity. In other words, you’re not working out to your potential. Stop chatting and work out harder.
  4. Increase resistance and RPM level over time. The idea isn’t to do the same workout each day, unless you already have the body of your dreams. The idea is to constantly challenge your body by progressing to higher and higher levels. Keep besting your previous records.
  5. Keep workout time short. Efficient but effective workouts are key. If you’re able to maintain your elliptical workout for 40 or more minutes, your workout intensity is too low and your sabotaging your results. Keep your workouts under 30 minutes by using strategies like high intensity interval training.


If you’d like to challenge yourself with another low-impact cardio exercise, try rowing. It’s good on the knees and can be an effective alternative to the elliptical. Swimming can be another option.

The moral of the story is that it is AWESOME that you are working out. But it would be even more awesome if you got the most out of your workout.

P.S. Want stronger abs? Download Davey’s Six Pack Workout for 5, professionally filmed ab workouts that will change your body forever!


Want A Small Waist? Lift Weights.

47a7be52257afIn an effort to lose weight, people tend to emphasize cardiovascular exercise over strength training. You’ll see this all the time at the gym; well-intentioned individuals will spend upward of 45 minutes or an hour jogging on the treadmill.

Can you blame them? It seems logical, right? If you run longer, you burn more calories. And if you burn more calories, you increase your calorie deficit and shed excess fat.

The problem is, things are a bit more complicated than that. By skipping strength training, excessive cardio tends to shed both fat and muscle. Losing hard-earned muscle isn’t a good thing. In addition, excessive cardio can boost levels of a stress hormone called cortisol; a side effect of cortisol is increased fat in the midsection.

Today, I came across a great study by Harvard School of Public Health that examined 10,500 healthy men, aged 40 and over during a 12-year period. Rather than just measuring body weight (which can be misleading), researchers measured waistlines and compared them to participants’ activity levels and exercise type.

According to the data, healthy men who did 20 minutes of strength training per day had a smaller increase in age-related abdominal fat when compared to men who spent the same time doing cardiovascular activities (like jogging on the treadmill). For optimal results, researchers recommend a combination of strength training and cardiovascular activities.

If losing belly fat and decreasing your waist size is one of your fitness goals, take this research to heart and ditch those endless treadmill workouts. Instead, spend 15 or 20 minutes with a high intensity interval training cardio session and then head to the weight room.

Study: Listen To Music During High Intensity Interval Training.

Concept-2-Rower-Male-ImageWe know that music can be a powerful, motivating force in exercise. In fact, I previously referenced a study that found music can boost output by as much as 15%.

Unsurprisingly, most of the research around music and exercise has centered around traditional, steady-state exercise. Such as running on a treadmill at a set speed for 30 minutes. However, more and more exercisers (myself included!) have shifted to high intensity interval training due to it’s many benefits. By alternating between low intensity exercise and bouts of high intensity exercise, participants get more workout bang in a shorter amount of time.

But does music provide the same benefits for high intensity exercisers? When you’re engaged in a high intensity interval at maximum effort, does music even make a difference?

Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario set out to answer those questions through a study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. For the study, 20 healthy participants with no experience in high intensity interval training were recruited. After establishing a baseline, participants listed their favorite music. The participants then completed one high intensity interval workout with music, and another without. The output was then compared between the two workouts.

Regardless of music, participants felt that each workout was equally challenging. Despite that, output was significantly higher during the music workout. In other words, participants were able to work much harder – even though it didn’t feel like it.

Whether music distracts you from discomfort, motivates you to move or just makes exercise more fun, it can be an important tool to use during your workout.

P.S. To try my high intensity interval training workout, download Davey Wavey’s Bootcamp Workout! You can do it right from the comfort of your home. But don’t be fooled… you’ll sweat like you’ve never sweat before!


5 Treadmill Mistakes You’re Probably Making!

653_1Treadmill walks, jogs, runs or sprints can be a great way to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. But there are a lot of mistakes that even avid gym-goers make.

Here are 5 common treadmill mistakes:

  1. Spending too much time. When it comes to time on the treadmill, more isn’t more. If you’re spending 30 or 45 minutes or more on a treadmill, you may be cannibalizing your results. Longer cardio sessions result in the release of an anabolic hormone called cortisol that reduces protein synthesis, facilitates the conversation of protein to glucose and stops tissues growth. It’s also associated with increases in fat stores around the body’s midsection. Instead of a low intensity, long cardio session on the treadmill, challenge yourself. Do more in less time. Maybe even try high intensity interval training.
  2. Holding on. Please, stop holding onto the treadmill. By holding on, you’re negating the intensity of your workout – especially if you’re using an incline. In fact, it’s estimated that holding onto the treadmill reduces calories burned by 20% – 25%. It also worsens posture, balance and doesn’t translate to real world gains. If you’re running on a street or track, there’s nothing to hold on to. Let go.
  3. Static stretching. A lot of runners engage in static stretching before their treadmill session. It’s the type of stretching wherein you hold a pose for an amount of time – like touching your toes. However, recent studies suggest that static stretching decreases strength and power and increases injury risk. Replace static stretching with dynamic stretching like jumping jacks or arm circles.
  4. Not using the incline. Many runners ignore the incline – mostly because it makes the workout more challenging. But that’s exactly why you should love and use it! For every 1% increase in the incline, you expend 4% more energy. This is especially useful if you’re not able to increase your speed, but still want an extra challenge. It also shifts muscle use upward – and can give you a great butt workout.
  5. You’re on autopilot. Doing the same workout every day gives you the same results. Most cardio exercisers cruise through their workout session. Some are even able to talk on the phone or text while exercising. I’ve got news for you: If you can text while running, you’re not running fast enough. If you want enhanced results, you need to increase the intensity of your workout; you will always get out of your workout what you put into it. So instead of doing the same old treadmill workout, do something that’s intense and challenging. And then keep pushing yourself.

What other mistakes do you see people making on the treadmill? Share them in the comments below!

Run More, Live Longer.

John JeffersonWith more than 600 muscles in the human body, one thing is clear: We are meant to move! And thanks to a new study published in the American College of Cardiology, we’re learning how important movement – and running, in particular – is to a longer life.

Over the course of 15 years, researchers examined more than 55,000 adults between the ages of 18 and 100 to determine whether or not there’s a relationship between running and longevity. During the study, 3,413 participants died including 1,217 deaths attributed to cardiovascular disease.

By crunching the data, researchers discovered that runners have an overall 30% lower risk of death from all causes. When it comes to cardiovascular disease, runners were 45% less likely to die compared to non-runners. On average, runners lived an astounding three years longer than non runners. Individuals benefited from running regardless of age, sex, body mass index, health conditions, smoking or alcohol use.

Moreover, researchers found that even slow or less frequent runners still enjoyed benefits. Runners who ran less than one hour per week experienced the same mortality benefits as runners who ran more than three hours. In other words, more running isn’t necessarily better from the perspective of longevity.

If you want to live longer, it’s time to get off your computer or away from your smartphone. Give yourself the free and wonderful gift of a good run.

Lift Before Cardio – Or After?

295_weightlifting-for-fat-loss_flashOne of the most frequently asked and most often debated fitness questions is whether it’s better to lift before or after cardio. And now, a recent study is shedding new light on the discourse.

First things first, we know that it’s important to do both cardio and strength training. Both types of exercise offer unique and complementary benefits. They work hand in hand to help you reach your fitness goals and facilitate improved health and wellness.

But should exercisers lift first or do cardio first? Which order yields the best overall results? That’s the big question.

The Department of Biology of Physical Activity at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland studied nearly 200 men ages 18 – 40 over 24 weeks. The men were broken into two groups of either cardio first or strength training first. Each week, the men performed 2 – 3 workouts.

For the cardio first group, initial findings showed a slower recovery period with reduced levels of testosterone. But this difference dissipated over the course of the study. After 24 weeks, researchers found similar increases in both performance and muscle growth in the two groups.

Based on these findings, researchers concluded that it really doesn’t matter whether you lift before or after cardio. It’s simply a matter of preference.

However, it’s worth noting that the men in this study exercised 2 – 3 times per week. For people that exercise more or less frequently, it’s unclear whether the findings can be extrapolated.

Personally, I find that I have the most energy when I first arrive at the gym. As such, I perform cardio first – as its benefits are more important to me than strength training. If the benefits of strength training are more important to you, then it may make more sense to lift first.

Cardio With No Equipment!

Devin-Thomas-Jump-Rope-ShirtlessHi Davey!

I can’t afford a gym membership and it’s getting really cold where I live! Are there any cardio exercises that I can do in my cramped apartment?


Hey Jess,

I have some great news! There are plenty of equipment-free cardio exercises that you can do at home.

Here are a few that I’d recommend:

  1. Jumping rope. While jumping rope may make us think of grade school recess, the truth is that it can be a great, heart-pumping workout. If you don’t have a jump rope, you can use an imaginary one – but it would definitely be worth the two or three dollar investment. If you’re 150 pounds, 10 minutes of jumping rope can burn 114 calories.
  2. Step aerobics. Even if you don’t have an aerobics step, you can make one with a small chair or stool. There are plenty of quality step aerobics videos on YouTube, so just fire one up and get started. With just 10 minutes of step aerobics, you can burn upwards of 120 calories.
  3. Jumping jacks. Much like jumping rope, jumping jacks can really get your heart racing. Just 10 minutes of vigorous jumping jacks can burn 92 calories.
  4. Dancing. Who said exercise can’t be fun? Feel the rhythm, feel the beat – and feel those calories burn away! If you dance hard (is there any other way to dance?), then you’ll burn nearly 70 calories in ten minutes. That’s about 20 calories per song!
  5. Yoga. When it comes to being a cardio workout, not all yoga classes are created equal. But a fast-paced yoga workout can burn up to 60 calories in 10 minutes. And you may even find your inner zen at the same time.

And really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The moral of the story is that not having a gym membership and/or not having fancy equipment is no excuse for sitting on the couch. :-)


What’s Better: Swimming or Running?

Dear Davey,

I’m trying to get in better shape, and I was wondering which gives you a better cardio workout – swimming or running?


0627-ent-olympic-swimmers-pool_awHey Luis,

First of all, both swimming and running provide great workouts. And either is better than sitting on your butt watching television. However, there are some pretty big differences between the two types of cardio.

It’s important to note that comparing running to swimming can be a lot like comparing apples to oranges. They’re both very different – and the effectiveness of either workout can depend on a number of variables. For example, a University of Florida study found that swimmers burn 44% more calories when a pool is heated to 68 degrees Fahrenheit rather than 91 degrees. The speed at which you swim or run also has a big influence. As does any incline you might experience during your run. In other words, it’s not that simple.

However, there are a few things that are quite definitive. Swimming is low-impact, and so it’s a great option for people with joint issues. Swimming will also give your upper a body a good endurance workout (running does not), assuming that’s something you want.

When it comes to calories burned, running does come out on top – but again, it depends on all those previously mentioned variables. Here are some general guidelines for a 155-lb individual who is exercising for 30 minutes:

  • Moderate intensity swimming: 214 calories
  • Running at 5mph: 298 calories
  • Vigorous swimming: 344 calories
  • Running at 10mph: 632 calories

If you can hold a 10mph pace, then running is advantageous from a purely caloric perspective. But if you run at 5pmh and can swim at a vigorous pace, then swimming could be a better choice for burning calories and getting your heart pumping.

Personally, my favorite cardio workout is high intensity interval training wherein I alternate between jogging and sprinting for a set duration. It provides a ton of amazing benefits; it doesn’t take a lot of time, minimizes muscle mass loss and provides a huge metabolic boost that you won’t get from steady-pace cardio.

But at the end of the day, the best form of cardio is the cardio that you’ll stick with. Find what works for you!


Run Your Feelings.

running-alonePeople do it all the time. You’ve probably done it. I’ve definitely done it. It’s called eating your feelings – and it’s a dangerous and misguided technique for self-soothing.

Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger. Instead of eating to fill a void in your stomach, it’s eating to satisfy an emotional need – and often involves cravings for very specific foods like pizza, ice cream, potato chips, etc. Because emotional eating usually involves unhealthy comfort foods, subsequent feelings of guilt or remorse are common.

In a nutshell, you eat because you’re angry, sad, etc. And then, once the guilt kicks in, you end up feeling even worse. It’s a downward spiral that serves no one.

While working with a professional to process your feelings is probably the healthiest alternative, I’ve got another, more accessible solution. Run your feelings. Hear me out.

Few things clear your mind like a good run. For me, running becomes something of a moving meditation. It’s right foot, left foot, right foot… One step, two steps, three steps. Breathe in, breathe out. And instead of having your mind race around an upsetting idea or thought, running allows your to channel and release that energy in a physical way.

Running allows me to take what’s in my mind and leave it on the payment.

And, unlike emotional eating, emotional running does serve your body with movement, exercise and a good sweat. Moreover, no feelings of guilt; instead, only the release of dopamine, serotonin and other neurotransmitters resulting in the euphoric runners high.

Do you ever run or exercise as a way to cope? Let me know in the comments below.

Study: Are Barefoot Running Shoes Dangerous?

vibram_fivefingers_flow_1Over the past few years, barefoot running has been gaining traction in the running community. In fact, it’s estimated that minimalist shoes now make up 15% of the $6.5 billion running shoe market.

There is some science to back up the trend. As I reported early, barefoot running can increase efficiency:

Oxygen consumption is typically 4% to 5% lower in barefoot running, which is attributed to factors including moving the shoes’ weight (energy demand increases about 1% for every 100g of additional mass on the foot), the bending resistance and friction of the sole, midsole energy absorption, and energy lost to metatarsophalangeal joint stiffness.

A recent study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise is adding more science to the barefoot running debate. For the study, researchers examined 36 experienced runners over a 10-week period. All participants underwent an MRI before the study and were then divided into two groups of either traditional running shoes or five finger barefoot running shoes.

Participants in the barefoot group followed the suggested industry protocol by easing into the barefoot running shoes:

They did one short (1-2 mile) run in the minimalist shoes the first week, and added an additional short run each week so that they ran at least 3 miles in the new shoes by week three. They were then told to add mileage in the minimal shoes as they felt comfortable, with the goal of replacing one short run per week in traditional shoes with the new shoes.

At the end of the 10-week study, all participants were again given MRIs. According to researchers, the runners in the barefoot group showed significant signs of stress including bone marrow edema (inflammation causing excessive fluid in the bone).

One researcher noted:

Whenever a bone is impacted by running or some other repetitive action, it goes through a normal remodeling process to get stronger. Injury occurs when the impact is coming too quickly or too powerfully, and the bone doesn’t have a chance to properly remodel before impact reoccurs.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that barefoot running or minimalist running shoes are necessarily bad. Instead, the study suggests that a longer transition period may be advisable. If you’ve been running your whole life in traditional running shoes, give yourself more than a few weeks to become accustomed.

Personally, I prefer the Nike Free Run shoes. They’re light, flexible and emulate barefoot running while still providing some support. In fact, my feet didn’t fit properly in the five finger shoes – so they weren’t an option for me. The Free Run shoes also come in different levels of support to help your transition. Even so, it’s taken me almost a year and several pairs of Nike Free Run shoes to fully transition and commit to the minimalist sneakers.

Have you ever tried minimalist running shoes? Let me know about it in the comments below!

Disclaimer: This isn’t a paid endorsement or sponsorship of Nike Free Run sneakers.