Quick Cardio or Long Cardio - How to get 6 pack abs back?

by Dwight
(Massachusetts, USA)

Stomach Bulge

Stomach Bulge

Hello Azri,

I have been reading through your exercise website and I have a slightly different question to ask you. It pertains to cardio exercises. When I took a break from riding for my amateur bike racing team in August 2010 I decided to work on building a lot of muscle and started a weightlifting plan I got from a magazine.

I was doing a lot of heavy weight lifting and eating a lot of good meals with protein shakes 3x a day trying to meet the 2x my weight in protein formula. Eventually in December, I noticed that I had gotten way stronger (175lb bench press to 245lbs), but I had a big "hill" where my 6 pack abs used to be.

I know this is fat on top of my muscle and that I need to do more cardio since my diet is good and so are my weightlifting workouts. I want to know if it is good to have very hard cardio workouts since I don't have hours to ride my bike and run to copy my old bike workouts of 2-4 hours of cardio! Life is just so busy that I can't find time for cardio anymore and going to the gym is a quick 1-1.5 hours time slot right after work when I am at my more tired state during the day.

Do you know if I should be running harder during these workouts to make up for the loss in time from my old 2-4 hour workouts?

Thanks for the help!


Azri's reply:

Hello Dwight, thanks for the question.

Sounds to me that you're doing a hardgainer's program, is that correct? I've heard of many people going on this program and seeing a lot of improvement in terms of strength and muscular endurance, but unfortunately, they gain some bulge in the midsection. Not to worry, it can be combated, but not with "hard" cardio that you are thinking of.

Fat can be burned through two methods: normal cardio for long periods of time, and interval cardio training. I prefer the latter because it's less time consuming and you see results much faster. What it means is essentially to put your body through bouts of both high and low intensity cardio workouts in a short time frame.

For example, you could jog at a comfortable pace (by comfortable, I mean that you could still hold a conversation with your friend) for 3 minutes, then sprint for 30 seconds. Repeat this for a total of 5 cycles. This means that you take about 20 minutes or so? But the amount of fat you burn per session is way more than someone who jogs for an hour at a constant pace.

Interval training is the way to go!

I highly advise you NOT to be too intense about doing cardio as activities like running can cause a lot of joint stress and pains if you do not give your body ample rest. It is very tempting to push your body as much as possible to get the bulge off, but trust me, stick to interval training (cardio) and you will say goodbye to that bulge in a couple of weeks.

Of course, this means that you have to continue being diligent with your weightlifting and having a proper diet. You're doing really well there - making such a marked improvement in lifting ability is amazing! Good job! :D

Do try this example out. If you need more examples or other variations of interval training workouts, just drop another question and I can give you an entire list of such workouts for you to try out!

Take care and all the best. You're doing great, trust me!

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Mar 21, 2011
I'm glad I could help
by: Azri

Hi Dwight, I'm glad that my information helped you.

I'm glad that you're asking your girlfriend along for your exercises - having someone there can really help boost motivation towards exercise and both of you can think of ideas to spice things up so that it becomes a hobby rather than a chore.

Also, do keep in mind that you should give your body some rest and not to stress your body too much by constantly doing interval training without taking some breaks in the week. Your body can only become stronger and burn more fat if it receives sufficient rest as well.

Do keep those questions coming! Thanks for visiting and if you need more examples of interval training, I would love to share some more with you. All the best!

Mar 18, 2011
Intervals for the Win
by: Dwight

Hello Azri,

Thanks for the great information. I was looking hard for something short I could do that would be as good as the super long workouts I used to do. I am very happy to know that intervals (my cycling coach used to make me do them) are the way to go 100% for my time problem.

I will start by doing them 5x a week for 20-30 minutes depending on how my legs feel. My girlfriend is on a quest to lose weight and I am helping her. She will be joining this campaign too. We will be doing intervals running on the road, running on treadmills, natural glide machines, bicycles outside and bicycle machines inside.

Once again thanks for the information!

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