Why Trainers Shouldn’t Be Discouraging Cardio

Instead, they should be encouraging their clients to do aerobic exercise.

Cardio is kind of funny topic with personal trainers. The fact that it’s the lowest form of engagement between trainer and client has something to do with the criticism. Many trainers go as far as suggesting to their clients that there is no need to do any cardio at all. “Weights are your cardio” is the typical slogan, and while there’s some truth to that, we have to be careful not to make any sweeping generalizations, especially when it comes to people’s health.

It’s true some studies indicate that an excessive amount of cardio could possibly slow muscle growth. It’s also worth noting that cardio does stimulate large amounts of cortisol without producing any of the testosterone needed to balance it out. And with the obsessive nature at which some people do cardio, the imbalance from the high levels of cortisol can actually become problematic.

I get all of that. But to completely dispense of an aerobic routine as part of a complete workout would be a mistake.

Why? Because cardio is still the number one indicator of longevity. It still gives an accurate gauge of heart and lung health. It has massive benefits for changing your physiology in terms of hormone distribution and circulation, and has a positive impact on blood pressure, as well.

Trainers should actually be excited to incorporate cardio into sessions with clients. Instead of pushing it to the side, I tell my newer trainers all the time that cardio is an easy win. Particularly for those trainers who aren’t yet skilled in fat loss or muscle gain, ramping up the cardio is a great way to build confidence in clients by showing clear progress. This week they run a mile, next week they run two, and as a trainer, you were the one to help get them there.

For me personally, cardio has done a lot to get me back on track. My job has me sitting at a desk more than I’m used to. I also have a son that’s built like a football player and carrying him around for the past couple years has done a number on my t-spine. So hitting the row machine for 20 or 30 minutes on a regular basis has helped strengthen my back muscles, along with allowing for full extension of my hips, legs, and arms. It’s truly the perfect workout for me at this point in my career and for my overall lifestyle.

Along with all of the physical gains I’ve achieved — increased energy, improved posture, higher metabolism — cardio has also help put me back in the right frame of mind. There’s no perfect way to quantify this other than to simply say I feel good. I feel like myself again and that can only be a positive thing.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m completely abandoning weights. I’m sure I’ll be back benching soon enough. What I’m saying is that there’s too much good when incorporating cardio to not have it be part of my workout. And there’s too much value in cardio for trainers not to encourage their clients to do the same.

More topics on leadership in fitness in Lead With Strength.

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