QnA: Rowing Machine vs Treadmill and Carb Cycling

Friday QnA with Strength Coach Drew Jamieson

Question: A buddy keeps telling me to carb cycle. Says I should only be eating carbs on days I workout to avoid getting fat and gain muscle. What is he talking about?

Jim Salter, Cleveland, Ohio

Carb CyclingAnswer: Carb cycling is a fancy term for tapering back carbs on certain days of the week and then consuming lots on other days to help maximize fat burning and muscle building.

While I agree that consuming more carbs on days you workout is a good idea this will come naturally if you follow the guidelines laid out in the 3BG System. During your pre and post workout window you are consuming carbs that you normally wouldn’t be eating on your off days because you aren’t hitting the gym.

In a way the 3BG System has some carb cycling built in, albeit a very basic and dummed down version.

Carb cycling has proven very useful for bodybuilders and figure athletes that are looking to get rid or the last 5-10 pounds. It’s a very analytic approach to getting your measurements and body fat exactly where you want them.

Having said that, for a beginner who’s looking to put on some muscle, gain strength and lose fat, tinkering with exact numbers, calories and percentages of your macro-nutrients would not be a good use of time. Carb cycling is tailored more for intermediate and advanced athletes that have been serious about working out for at least 2 years.

In summary: Eat good whole foods with a balance of carbs, fats and proteins and hit the gym hard with compound multi-joint exercises. Develop a solid consistency and show commitment to a plan that helps improve your physique. Then when you are ready to take things to the next level we can talk numbers.

 

Question: Rowing machine or treadmill? What’s the best for total body fat loss?

Fred Muse, Freeport, Maine

Rowing machine vs treadmillAnswer: When it comes to cardio you always want to look at total body involvement when possible. Unless you need to train a specific movement that is directly related to your sport (a sprinter would have no business rowing or swimming for example when he should be running) you should look at getting the best bang for your time- this is found by incorporating your whole body and movements with full range of motion when you train cardio.

This means that although jogging is a nice challenge for your legs, it doesn’t do much to involve your upper body.

Rowing is a better hybrid of upper and lower body movements and with the right tension and intensity I would put it ahead of a slow boring jog.

However, if you really want a good cardio workout you’ll involve both upper and lower forms of exercise that are both; fast and challenging. Things like explosive push ups, jumping jacks, burpees, shadowing boxing, swimming, rowing, medicine ball slams, medicine ball throws, and mountain climbers are all great full body cardio exercises that offer an intense challenge along with a total body effect.

The reason these are better is they give you an after-burn effect which allows you to burn fat hours after you have stopped working out. Movements like these also teach you to be more athletic, not to mention are more enjoyable (mentally at least) than a boring, monotonous steady form of cardio.

Instead of jogging on the treadmill, here’s a quick workout you can do:

Pick 2 to 3 of the above exercises and repeat each in a circuit for 20-40 seconds before moving onto the next exercise. Rest briefly between each exercise and complete 2-4 rounds, totaling approximately 10-15 minutes of work combined with the minor rest periods.

 
 
Even though this workout will take you a third of the time you would normally spend running on the treadmill, you’ll burn more fat, challenge your heart and save a ton time. Sounds good to me.

 

The questions, as always, were great again this week. Looking forward to it next Friday.

Stay Strong,

Drew

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