If your gym routine contains high rep training routines, then does this mean you can avoid the dreaded cardio?
Not many people enjoy cardio. Your heart beats way too fast, you feel like you might throw up and you stare at the clock ticking down hoping you will be finished soon. This means that a lot of people decide to neglect cardio as part of their training plan.
High rep training is a fantastic way to really get your body to transform without completely hating your workouts. The golden era of bodybuilding was heavy volume training with super-sets, giant sets and pushing muscles until complete failure. With this approach it is arguably possible to eliminate the need for cardio days in your workout plan.
Benefits of High Volume Training
High volume training is great in principle, but the real key to results is the intensity at which you perform the volume. If you think you can just stay an extra half hour in the gym and make it through at a steady pace and suddenly you’ll be ripped without cardio, think again. You need to keep your heart rate up high and the best way to do this is cut down your rest time between sets. This means no phone breaks and no chatting for 10 minutes at a time, just grab a drink if you need it and get back to work.
The other pitfall is you might think you need to drop the weight in order to be able to perform sets with less rest. You may need to adjust especially at first if you haven’t trained this way before but that doesn’t mean it should be easy, every set should be a fight and if it’s not then you are only cheating yourself. Once you get used to these types of routines it will be nice to miss the cardio you dread, but make no mistake this will feel worse than cardio to start with.
Adding in these conditioning movements that are not typical cardio can also help you keep off any body fat and avoid spending half an hour on a machine after your lift:
✓ Farmers Carry’s with dumbbells is a great conditioning move to perform at the end of workouts
✓ Sled Drags are another fun move to try if you have the equipment
✓ Walking Lunges don’t attack your cardiovascular system but provide much needed muscular endurance
✓ Tire Flips are a fun exercise that can keep you lifting, but also helping you get a serious sweat on
It might sound great to be able to avoid cardio altogether, but it takes some real work and dedication from you to pull it off. Helpful tools are heart rate monitors or activity bands to track your workout intensity. You should also consider leaving your phone in a loacker or putting it on airplane mode if you use it for music so you do not get distracted. Training with someone more experienced in these workouts is a good idea as this will help to keep you on track until you get the hang of it.
I would say the most beneficial and easiest way to keep your intensity up is timing your workout and giving yourself a cutoff point where you must be finished. This is something I have personally done. I love training and I could easily spend three hours a day in the gym, so by threatening myself with the fact that in an hour if I’m not done I don’t get to finish my workout is a good way to motivate me to keep up the intensity during my sets. I really upped my speed around the gym and stopped taking unnecessary breaks.
A sample high rep arm workout may go like this:
Super-set: 5 sets
Forehead Bicep curls – 8 Reps
Barbell Curls – 21 Method (Full reps 7 top half 7 bottom half 7)
Bench Dips – 20-30 reps
Super-set: 4 sets
3-Way Skull Crushers – 20 reps each way (forehead, nose, behind head)
Alternating Incline Curls – 10 reps each arm
Super-set: 5 sets
Rope Push-Downs – 10 reps (4 count hold at bottom of each rep)
Wrist Curls – 20 reps
Standing alternating Dumbbell Curls – 12 reps each arm
Super-set: 4 sets
Straight bar Pushdowns – 20 full reps, then 20 ¼ reps
Bicep Curl Machine – 30 reps
A workout like this will give your arms a ridiculous ‘pump’, as blood will be driven into the biceps and triceps, and will really push your muscles to failure. You will be sweating like you have just done cardio and you will likely be breathing pretty hard. I would recommend when doing a session like this you need some fast digesting carbs after as you will be depleted of glycogen afterwards. It is extremely taxing on your body to really push through these sessions with low rest.
Take Home Message
High rep training can be a way to avoid traditional cardio. The main thing is to maintain a high intensity throughout your training. The best way to do this is by using super-sets and having very short rest periods. This training, if you’re not used to it, will take some time to get used to at first, but it is an excellent way to work your muscles get you breathing just as deeply as if you’d just been running on the treadmill. Give this routine a go and let me know how you get on in the comments below.