In part 3, I will discuss the best cardio for abs. Cardiovascular exercise is a critical component of 8-pack abdominal development. It also makes fat burning easier, lowers risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and a myriad of other diseases. Cardiovascular exercise also increases energy levels while reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhances joint stability and prevents, and even reverses, the bone loss seen in aging.
Of course, it should come as no surprise by just looking at the physiques of most of the people in the gym taking up all those treadmills, that few know how to properly do cardiovascular exercise to effectuate the development of 8-pack abdominals. My 8-Pack is a totally different than anything you commonly see.
Obviously, the ﬁrst thing you need to do before doing cardio or engaging in any exercise program is to consult with your personal physician and make sure you have a clean bill of health and are ready for the kind of exercise you want to do. This being the case, exercise for 8-pack abdominal etching should be done at least 5 days per week for twenty minutes each session. Remember that your sessions should involve challenging physical exertion. You want to get your heart rate up and you want to sweat. When you are doing those things, you are getting the most amount of fat burning.
The Best Cardio For Abs
Fat burning 8-pack cardio should be performed on either a Stepmill® or a treadmill on a high incline. These are much tougher movements because they exert extreme force and result in extreme fatigue on the muscles, but cause far less injuries than ﬂat surface work. That’s because the act of going uphill or up steps, while loading the muscles, actually unloads the joints. Furthermore these movements are far superior to ﬂat surface running in that they are much lower impact. I tend to stay away from traditional ﬂat surface running because the injury potential is so dramatically high. Also, most people who think they are running are actually just walking fast and, at best, jogging or trotting at a relatively unchallenging pace. What ends up happening is that so-called “joggers” spend far too much time in this mind and body-numbing experience. They sometimes do this slow, sweaty trot for hours each day, but with little relative beneﬁt.
In sharp contrast, my best cardio for abs workout is quite a higher intensity due to the incline aspect but also horter in duration. This higher intensity and shorter duration is shockingly much better for 8-pack fat burning than lower intensity and longer duration work. I know that might sound shocking because it may cut against the grain of everything you have heard, read, or been told. But it’s true. In my experience, ﬁghting calorie intake with straight calorie burning is a losing battle. For example, the everpopular commercial treadmill is still the cornerstone cardio method commonly used by those same minions that loaf along or jog at an unimpressive pace. These people have themselves convinced they are “running”. There are legions taking up rows of equipment, all with the same notion that if they stay on for an hour or more that somehow all the fat is going to melt away and reveal a trim waistline. Yet the vast majority of these same people that invest so much time on the equipment ironically still look fat and out of shape.
The reason they get little to no results is that they don’t challenge their system and mount enough intensity to actually raise the resting basal metabolic rate enough to burn fat stores throughout the day. The key is intensity of cardio and not duration. That’s why Olympic caliber sprinters have ripped abdominals and next to no body fat. In sharp comparison, Olympic distance runners, while thin and gaunt, actually have very little muscle deﬁnition and a far higher percent body fat! Yes HIGHER. To elaborate more, the world-class sprinters I’ve examined over the years have relatively large muscles and almost no detectable subcutaneous fat. In comparison, the same level champion distance runners I’ve seen are terribly gaunt with ﬂat muscle that lack appreciable mass or even good shape. Perhaps most shocking is that, despite the exponentially longer total distances run, they actually tend to have much more detectable subcutaneous fat around the abdomen and ﬂanks!
Again, while it may be nothing compared to the average person, it’s a signiﬁcantly greater amount of body fat when compared to world-class sprinters. It’s a fascinating paradox that you must remember when looking around the gym at others doing conventional cardio and being tempted to climb aboard and mosey along with them in a pool of ineffectual and deceptive sweat.
That’s why, for the relatively small amount of fat “burned” off by way of the monotony of long periods of low intensity cardio, there is also a comparative loss in muscle mass and tone. That’s why doing cardio the wrong way for body fat loss and ultimately abdominal deﬁnition just won’t work.
My best cardio for abs workout, actually promotes the etching of the 8-pack, while helping muscle tone and shape. My approach to 8-pack cardio is paradoxical and ﬂies in the face of conventional wisdom. This is where my medical training and practice as a physician really gave me priceless insight. Namely there is incontrovertibly far greater cardiovascular and metabolic stimulation achieved by me performing a cardiac stress test on my patients and challenging age-predicted heart rate maximum and VO2 max than any kind of cardio I see people do in the gym. This is the case in particular when I do a “super-max” stress test on one of my patients, as I’ve done on the ultra-ﬁt athletes at our clinic and those seeking “super-preferred” status on their life insurance. In these cases I am able to combine real-time cardiac ultrasonography with the stress testing so I can visualize the action of the heart muscle and valves in real time. To take it a step further in my investigations, I’ve also tested lactic acid levels throughout the examination, multiple serial blood samplings, and metabolic tests using an enclosed hood to check changes in metabolic rate. The result of all these years of observation and testing was the discovery that shorter and much more intense periods of cardiovascular exercise actually lift the metabolic set point much higher and sustain that level beyond just the exercise experience far more than what is traditionally viewed as “cardio” exercise.
The link here starts with far more muscle activity driving the period of physical stress to a much higher intensity. What is happening is that a nerve and hormonal change takes place that raises the metabolism of the body away from fat retention and toward fat burning. When done with enough frequency, the body actually retains and increases muscle tone. With the resting metabolic rate being higher, more body fat is burned around the clock, even at rest. As a result, you have my best cardio for abs workout.
My cardio piece of choice for my best cardio machine for abs workout, is the StepMill®, StairMaster 7000 PT Stepmill or at the very least if you don’t have access to a StepMill®, a standard commercial incline set on at least a 10% incline gradient (most standard commercial treadmills go up to a 15% gradient). The fact is that the controlled stair climbing motion offered by the StepMill® makes it, in my opinion, by far the best piece of cardiovascular equipment available today. It’s very challenging at a high level set when not hanging on to or touching the railings. That’s why most people opt for the treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical trainers instead. These standards offer a much more forgiving cardio platform that allows for sluggish pacing, so much so that many have reading stands so you can ﬂip a magazine! That’s when you know that you’re not working hard enough. The ferocious intensity of the StepMill® is a good thing if you are serious about etching your 8-pack, yet it is so often avoided for precicely this same reason—it’s ferocity. That’s why gyms have so many treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical machines, and so few StepMills cardio machines®.
The best cardio machine for abs, the StepMill® is well designed for a safe, consistent, and biomechanically correct stepping movement. Each step is approximately eight inches in depth and thus has plenty of room. So, unless you are NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal who admittedly had difﬁculty ﬁtting his feet on the steps when I would force him to do his sessions (he wears a size 23 sneaker), there’s plenty of room. Also the advantage over regular steps you might ﬁnd outside somewhere or going up a building, there is no unpredictability of surface variation or change in angle or direction that you’d have to adjust for. The speed of the revolving staircase will vary from about 20-165 steps per minute depending on the settings you select. The computer program allows you to pick the speed and rhythm while providing you with data including elapsed time, ﬂoors climbed, relative exercise intensity (METs), and power output (watts). Some newer systems include a heart rate monitor capability.
So the StepMill® is a unique piece of cardio equipment in it’s innate difﬁculty (climbing steps). When done properly, without holding on to the side rails, it effectuates very signiﬁcant stress on the muscles of the body. In particular it has the added beneﬁt of targeting the muscles of the buttocks and thighs to a far greater degree than any other cardio piece. Amazingly it does this with very low impact (unlike running on a ﬂat surface).
The goal here is to press yourself in a tightly controlled way so that the experienced physical intensity of the shorter duration cardio stimulates a raise in your resting metabolism. That’s 8-pack cardio, my way. Of course, as a doctor I can’t get away from warning you that, before you risk blowing a gasket doing this type of cardio, you need to consult with your personal physician and make sure you have a clean bill of health and are 100% ready for such exertion.
That being in place, you are good to go. StepMill® machine cardio for my best cardio for abs workout, should ideally be performed 5 days each week for short but very intense 20 minute sessions. Be sure your StepMill® at a very challenging, high intensity of sustained physical exertion. Select a program such as “Fat Burner” or “Fat Burner Plus” on the newer models and “Mt. Rainier” on the older ones, are all pretty good. But it really doesn’t matter all that much which program you pick, just stay with that same program throughout the 8-pack mission so you always have a good gauge on your intensity. The more important adjustment is the intensity level. The newer models have 20 levels, while the older ones have only 10. As a cautionary note, start on a relatively low level because it’s shocking how even very experienced ﬁtness fanatics ﬁnd themselves crumbling when they ﬁnd out, despite all the training they might have done, they don’t have the legs or the muscular endurance yet. In any event, adjust your level to a high enough intensity that you are just barely completing the 20 minutes (remember that you have to perform this session repetitively throughout the week, so don’t over-shoot the mark). So it will certainly take some tooling around.
Once set and off on your way, you will see that in a shockingly short amount of time, your heart rate will rise, your legs will burn like crazy, your lungs will tighten, and you’ll be sweating more than you ever imagined in such a short time. Of course the beneﬁt is that it’s all over in far less time than you would have otherwise experienced doing conventional cardio for 45 minutes, to an hour or more. But again, in the beginning, if you are not used to it, maybe just start at a low level and only 5-10 minutes to give you the feel. Build up from there to where you need to be for 8-pack intensity. As I said, be sure not to hang on the hand railings or drape your body over the railings and/or console to support yourself. This commonly seen silliness only robs the legs and buttocks of the needed workload and thus compromises the intensity level you are able to reach. Perhaps worse is that it gives you a false sense of achievement. Once you work up to the twenty minutes, increase the level of difﬁculty from there as aggressively as you can. Remember that the biggest crime made by cardio minions everywhere is to add time before added intensity. For example, I always run into this one girl at the bank I go to. She’s a plump little teller that claims she “runs” three marathons each year. In truth, I have no doubt she has somehow managed to build up the “tolerance” to waddle through 26 miles. But that sure isn’t 8-pack cardio and surely explains why she is still so plump despite all the jogging (well, that along with her inability to control her eating). The morale of the story here is that you have to force yourself out of the conventional mindset that “time on cardio” is more important than intensity. Again, remember that if that were true, then all those misinformed people in the gym lumbering along on those treadmills for hours would have the most yokedup and shredded abdominals in the place. In reality, it’s the shortened duration and exponentially magniﬁed intensity that really brings about 8-pack deﬁnition.
Finally, if StepMill® is not an option, treadmill on an incline will be ﬁne. But you must remember to use it on at least a 10% incline and work up to 15%. Also, don’t run on it. Be sure to walk quickly with a long stride. Your stride should be long enough that it nearly covers the entire length of the belt surface. For an average size male or female this will likely put the speed at about 3.3-5.2mph. The same rule of not touching the hand railings or hanging on the console applies.
Continue to part IV. Best ab exercises