Should I Do Cardio?


This comes at a time to which the topic at hand is becoming much more significant to my routine. In previous posts I have discussed an number of different ‘Should I…”s in the hope of shedding light on things I have tried, their benefits and whether they can have practical application to your lifestyle. Although cardio is something that always finds itself on the back-burner of the to-do list, it is definitely something that simply cannot be overlooked as far as improving general physical fitness capacity and body composition. While it is possible to be reasonably lean without having to buckle over your feet with boredom for an hour everyday, there’s certainly more to cardio than just the monotony we deem it so.

Take a typical high intensity resistance session; physically demanding, prolonged rep ranges and little rest, do we find ourselves exerted in later stages from said components or are we simply not fit enough? Would having a better CV capacity enable us to work beyond the barrier of breathlessness? Recovery and resilience between sets, especially at the upper limits of ones threshold may certainly be a useful feat to muster, notwithstanding everything else that comes with output at 100% or close to it. How much would that extra time award us in hindsight? more time under tension, more, reps, less can’t, more do.

HIIT- The buzzword of all buzzwords, the ‘H’ being ‘High’ and the first ‘I, Intensity’ Not, ‘Slow>maybe a bit harder>back to slow when I get tired>repeat’. This should be at the very top 90-100% of your threshold followed by an intermittent recovery period, the shorter this period, the more difficult and the more conditioned you will become to output at a higher rate with less rest. Despite Joe Wickes and other celebrity trainers milking HIIT, it is challenging and does break up the monotony of continuous cardio training. However, people seem to quantify HIIT work in sweat –I am sweating a lot therefore it must be doing something– rather than applying variations of different intensities in a systematic fashion, monitoring its effect on A. CV fitness and B. Body composition because ultimately, B is the end game for most people.

Another issue with ONLY doing HIIT is that everything else will now feel less responsive and/or not as difficult, and not all exercises are effective when performed in this fashion. General conditioning work and anything that gets you heart racing enough can bode well with everything else that comes with staying fit, but without being able to quantify where you’re at, you will struggle to gauge where you can realistically improve.

Take a 500m row, this should take most active people less than 2 minutes to complete, in and amongst a warmup row or HIIT training, such a test will gauge where you’re currently at. Performing this to time after a cycle of continuous or interval training will further indicate how quickly you are recovering –the closer the base time, recovery must be improving–  This can also be done at 1 and 2,500 metres if you tend to do more continuous cardio, which surprisingly burns into fat stores at a much more greater capacity than HIIT.

So how many hours a week should I do cardio?

Depending on your fitness goals, having an active job may suffice for general fitness albeit the lifestyle and food choices one may surfeit to conflict. I would recommend doing some form of physical activity each day and something that challenges you on three specific days i.e

Monday- 30 mins/ 1 hour continuous bike

Wednesday- 2,500m row for time

Friday- Stepper or Elliptical intervals 10-15 minutes at 50%- 90%

40/20- 40 work/20 rest

30/30- 30”/30”

20/10- 20”/20”

Rather than me protest the importance of cardio, fully aware of people’s distaste with monotony and/or hard work, getting the amount right will work wonders for your overall body composition, whether that be in conjunction with heavy weight training, yoga or all competitive sports.

Now that I have completed my further studies for level 4 PT I do plan to post at least every week on various topics which may be of use to active individuals and fitness enthusiasts. I will be featuring 30 day challenges and transformation packages to purchase on my new website so keep your eyes peeled and follow @jakedarcyfitness on IG if you haven’t already.

Jake 👊





Speculation, Scandal and Superheroes Pt.1


In the run up to the release of  The Program -which will probably be out by the time this is done- in which Ben Foster plays once highly coveted professional cyclist Lance Armstrong, it’s only fitting to open up the debate on how society defines SUCCESS, and the extent to which we may go to pursue it. Lance Armstrong became the ultimate symbol of success; with the expanse of sponsorships that fuelled an illustrious cycling career he proceeded to founder his own cancer charity, Livestrong. Promoting the vision of Livestrong as an ambassador to the masses DESPITE having cancer himself and still somehow managing to conquer his competition, Armstrong suddenly became heavily scrutinised by the media that speculated the extent of his health to be of a more sinister nature.

What most of us will not be able to fathom is the fact that athletes pave the path of their careers through PERFORMANCE not PARTICIPATION. So much so that regularly relying on talent alone to win would be somewhat foolish. To then generalise the extent to which this is apparent would probably be even more so, although in hindsight we don’t see any instance of competitive sport remaining static in the way that records are broken and talent reoccurs. Each year the influx of bigger, faster, stronger athletes surge the competition and test the tenacity of those hardwired to WIN, nothing else. This innate determination would coincide with doing “WHATEVER IT TAKES” in order to optimise ones potential and protect what they deem, rightfully theirs.

People are naive to think that even elite athletes within tested organisations won’t be taking every measure possible to optimise their performance, but even more naive to think that applying themselves to the same conditions would grant them just as much success. No steroid or performance enhancing substance could be solely responsible for ones triumph, despite such media incrimination emphasising the CHEAT or SCANDAL. No, To endeavour this would be result of somewhat intangible factors and an immense amount of raw talent, just to get you in the starting lineup.

With the heavy speculation of illicit drug use during the the most prestigious event on the cycling calendar- The Tour De France; Armstrong took it on himself to organise the ‘program’ in which athletes on his ‘team’ could carry out extreme measures to continue blood doping without being detected. This involved arranged blood transfusions in order to bypass the array of medical screening and to mask the frequent use of various performance enhancing drugs, more specifically IPO. While the countless allegations stacked up against Armstrong, it seemed that the immense support from fans in conjunction with a highly elaborate fabrication of truth carried the false BELIEF in Lance to new heights. This is the belief of defying the odds, chasing your dreams and silencing the naysayer, brutally, via email and telephone.

However, it’s not the malcontent of Lance Armstrong that I want to discuss, although it may be entertaining. I find much more value in identifying how society can scorn individuals that seem to have been CAUGHT OUT when in reality they are mere victims of their own ambition. Now I’m not saying that every top athlete is on drugs, nor am I condoning any such action’ to stay “competitive” but it seems the once grey area of what may define a CHEAT has become much more lucid in nature due to an overwhelming media.

People won’t understand the instance of lying in order protect an athletes untainted career despite the fact that they have an immense responsibility to younger generations that they inspire and are idolised by. What would discrediting the accomplishments of such epitomised figures do to young athletes and more importantly what would it encourage them? The steroid speculation overarching huge pinnacles of success such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Dwayne Johnson has clearly had enough impact on the impressionable audience, making it just as destructive as the TRUTH.

Seeing a recent online article with the title ‘teens heart explodes from steroids after wanting to look like The Rock” struck me hard at not only the naïveté of guys failing to embrace what they have been given and wanting to BE someone else but the extent to which they would go to do so. Using the DRUG card for anyone that has bettered themselves to a significant degree is not only fundamentally ignorant but also provides a vivid reflection of ones own discontent, temporarily satisfied by excuses and frequent use of the BAD GENETICS card.

So like Arnold and Sly and Dwayne and most definitely Armstrong – who won the genetic lottery instilling the foundations of how they can potentially look- they have all successfully fulfilled the limits of their physical prowess so much so that it has resulted in highly coveted careers in various fields of expertise. Every sporting event will feature specialists of their craft, in knowledge and sheer dedication to their own aspirations and to the sport. These individuals will follow even stricter routines and adopt a plethora of approaches to both training and nutrition that most deem to be extreme, superseding the budding enthusiast that may even attempt to close the gap by drastic means. Lance Armstrong lied on the world stage to protect his reputation, one not built overnight.

The discovery of his dishonesty resulted in being stripped of his seven consecutive Tour De France titles, tarnishing his credibility with Livestrong and labelling him the biggest fraud? of our time. While I completely agree with the controls that are in practice to eradicate drug use within sport, I protest the label of Armstrong being considered a FRAUD. No drug is powerful enough to instil a reassuring hope within thousands of people; defying the odds of cancer chasing their dreams and silencing the naysayers that oppose their journey. If this was a drug and it helped people, would it be illegal, would it be unpatriotic? It can be said that Lance Armstrong asserted himself as THE driving force of competitive cycling, recognised by the world media and adored by the people for epitomising the American dream, but to what end? a symbol is by no means a pure, finite depiction of truth, but a vision of something possible.

The irony of Marvel illustrating the divine patriotism of Captain America; a military weapon, unifying humanity against evil, a spectacle of hope and courage. Would a punier Steve Rodgers ever have become his alter ego without being exposed to performance enhancing drugs and to people aware of his secret, is he still considered a superhero?