From left: Joe Weider, Frank Zane, and Arnold get cardio and some California sun at the same time.
How much cardio do you do, what kind, and how do you fit it in with your weight training?
If you grew up in Austria in the 1960s as I did, or trained at Gold’s Venice in the 1970s as I also did, there was no such word as cardio. When you wanted to lose fat, you cut back on the amount of food you were eating, particularly carbohydrates. And some of us, like Ken Waller and Frank Zane and me, liked to run on the beach or ride a bicycle around town now and then because we knew it was healthy and it seemed to help you lose a little extra weight before a contest. But the idea of training your heart, specifcally, was largely foreign to us.
Looking back, I wish I had done more dedicated cardiovascular training, not just for its benefcial effect on the waistline but for the heart itself. With cardiovascular disease the No. 1 killer of American men, everyone should make it a goal to have a healthy heart, and that means exercising as much as it does following a healthy diet.
I embraced cardio training when my Hollywood career took of. I didn’t have time to train for hours as I used to, so I needed a way to burn extra calories and work my heart in shorter, more efficient workouts. These days, I combine cardio and weight training in the same session.
I begin on an exercise bike or elliptical (I don’t want to terminate my knees on a treadmill). After five minutes at an easy pace, I go at the hardest pace I can maintain for 30 seconds, then I back of to an easy pace for 30 seconds. I repeat these intervals for 10 minutes, then begin my weight workout. This gets me warmed up and gets cardio out of the way early. Otherwise, I might be tempted to skip it after lifting. Apart from this, I’ll hike for up to an hour when time allows, and sometimes I ride my bike.
No matter what, I make sure to get some kind of cardiovascular work in every day. If you’re interested in being as lean as possible and living a long, healthy life, I suggest you do the same. - FLEX