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All bodybuilders should do some form of cardiovascular exercise. Not only is it smart from a health standpoint, but it also makes the body more efficient at nutrient transport
and waste removal to and from the muscles, which means faster results in the size and strength departments. Re-search, however, suggests that high-intensity aerobics can cause
the body to cannibalize hard-earned muscle.
It sounds like a Catch-22. Body-builders need aerobic exercise in order for their bodies to be efficient mass-building machines, but aerobic exercise can cause the body to feed off of its muscular structures, thus reducing its mass. Does this mean that if you're a bodybuilder concerned with building size-and what bodybuilder isn't?-you should simply avoid aerobic exercise? The answer is no, but just make sure that the aerobic exercise you engage in most of the time is of the low-intensity variety.
Low-intensity aerobic exercise gets your heart rate up and increases your breathing but burns little glycogen from your working muscles. Most of the energy comes from those always-expendable fat stores.
In my search for the perfect low-intensity aerobic exercise to supplement my bodybuilding workouts, I tried various machines and activities.
The following list includes a few, along with the reason or reasons I decided against each one:
o Rowing machines. Upper-body emphasis-less-efficient calorie burn.
o Jogging. Too hard on the knee joints, plus the weather can be a convenient excuse.
o Cross-country ski machines. Somewhat uncomfortable position plus too much coordination and thought involved.
o Stationary bicycles. Work the lower body only.
o Walking. Another situation in which the weather can be an out.
Walking was the best of the bunch and an activity that I do engage in on occasion, but I was looking for a form of exercise that I could do indoors. I also wanted an activity that would be efficient- simultaneously working the upper and lower bodies-and comfortable to perform. My search ended when I found the Schwinn Air-Dyne, thanks to Richard Winett's Master Trainer newsletter.
In the February '91 issue of Master Trainer Winett wrote an article titled "The One Best Aerobic Piece," in which he listed a few reasons why he believes that the Air-Dyne is "your best bet for that one, basic piece."
Here are a few points from his list:
o It takes no skill to use, and there's little risk of injury.
o It provides a total-body workout-a rowing motion coupled with pedaling. You can do one of these motions or both simultaneously (a very efficient exercise).
o It burns quite a few calories- up to 500 in a moderate 40-minute workout.
o It only takes up a two-by-five-foot area.
o You can watch TV or even read while exercising.
In short, exercise on the Air-Dyne is the perfect supplement to bodybuilding workouts. You can monitor your level of work on the computer console so that your intensity doesn't slip into high gear, and because you work both your upper and lower bodies at the same time, you burn the maximum number of calories while comfortably taxing your cardiovascular system. The computer console also times your exercise and gives you readouts on calories burned per hour, total calories burned and miles or kilometers traveled at the end of your session.
The only real drawbacks to the Air-Dyne are its price, as it retails for about $700, and the noise-it operates with a flywheel device that makes the decibel level higher than that of other aerobic pieces, such as stationary bikes. Nevertheless, the pros far outweigh the cons.
If you're interested in giving your cardiovascular system a boost without burning hard-earned muscle mass, you might consider the Schwinn Air-Dyne. I did and found it to be the perfect aerobic addition to my home gym.