Becoming Reacquainted With Boring Cardio and Core Day

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I don’t normally blog about cardio day because frankly, it’s kind of boring. However, since I’ve reduced my lifting frequency down to twice per week, I thought what I’ll be doing the other four days a week might be more important now.

It felt strange not to lift today. I suppose it was a good thing, since the weight room filled up fast. When I do cardio on the elliptical, normally, I do a 35 minute session plus 5 minutes for a cooldown (warmdown, whatever…). Since I’ll be doing four days of cardio for the duration of this experiment, I decided not to stress myself out so much, so this morning I just did 30 minutes with a 5 minute cooldown.

Oh, Jerry made a comment on yesterday’s blog post that’s relevant to today:

Nice work James. It sounds like you won out on that DL. You sure worked the low back hard, so I think waiting until Thursday to Squat will prove to be beneficial.
Sometimes those yoga pants can be inspirational.

Or distracting…

Anyway, this seems to help settle whether or not I should lift again Wednesday or Thursday. For Monday through Wednesday, I’ll do cardio and some light core and mobility work which could include weights (but no heavy work), then I’ll lift Thursday, do cardio Friday, and have one day of absolute rest on Saturday, no gym at all, before heading back to the weight room on Sunday to begin the next workout week.

Here’s how my Monday started out.




Lvl 10, 35 minutes
15 min +6
15 min +5
5 min cooldown
Hi HR 149
Mid HR 135-139
Lo HR 116
Miles: 3.36
Calories: 406


Mobility and Core Work

Bodyweight Lunges over mat
x20, x20, x20 (x10 each side)

Bodyweight Roman Chair Back Extensions
10, x12, x12, x12
Reclining Leg Lifts on mat
x12, x12, x12, x12

Standing on One Foot
30 seconds each side

Leg Back Raises
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10

Leg Side Raises
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10

Alternating Arm/Leg Raises (Bird Dog)
10x each side
10x each side
10x each side

Level 10 is the usual resistance level I set on the elliptical. I’ve tried higher levels before, but it jacks my heart rate (HR) too much, and I want to keep it in the 140 to 150 bpm range at most.

I did the first 15 minutes between 6 and 7 mph (at least according to the machine) and the next 15 minutes at a slightly slower rate. I always give myself 5 minutes to slow my heart rate down at the end. I also record my highest heart rate as well as the mid-range, and then what my HR is the last few seconds before the end of my cooldown.

The machine records “miles” traveled (this is all simulated, of course), and calories burned (which is only a rough calculation, since the algorithm programmed into these machines isn’t “one size fits all”).

seated cable low rows

Oh, confession time. I’ve picked up about 10 pounds that took me forever to lose last year. I think part of it is that my eating habits have become lax since the holidays, and I haven’t disciplined myself like I did before. Additionally, I think reducing my cardio sessions, which also started around the holidays, has contributed to the return of ugly belly fat. Hopefully, increasing cardio will burn off some of this stuff, but as I’ve said before, I can’t outrun my fork. Time to get serious about what I put in my mouth and how much.

But back to today’s exercise routine. Cardio always makes me sweat, so I was dripping all over the place by the end of 35 minutes. Next, I grabbed a mat and performed 3 sets of dreaded bodyweight lunges. This is a real challenge, but only because of my lousy sense of balance. OK, I admit it. The pain in my thighs also reminded me that I hadn’t done lunges in a few weeks. Ouch.

Then I pulled my mat over to the Roman chair, which some genius put in the free weight room between two plate loaded machines, so there’s not a lot of floor space near it. I tried to position myself to be out of the way as much as possible. At least I didn’t get stepped on.

Shaved head guy’s daughter was doing cable low rows on the combination jungle gym machine or whatever you call it (see the image just above), almost right in front of me. I was sweating so much that each time I lifted up to extend my back, sweat would spray off my face. I hope I didn’t hit her with any.

After 4 supersets with 30 seconds rest between sets, I did my Kasey the Chiropractor work. I find that I can stand on one foot more or less OK for 30 seconds as long as I fix my gaze on a stable object in front of me. If I let my gaze wander, even for a few seconds, I tend to fall over.

This is going to get fun (sarcasm) once I get good at it with my eyes open and have to do it with my eyes closed.

Remarkably, my entire workout took almost exactly one hour. I finished up and went home.

For future sessions, after cardio, I don’t have a fixed idea of what I should be doing. Some ab work is a given as well as the Kasey core work, but what else? Today, I threw in bodyweight lunges because I had the time and I hadn’t done them in a while. But what else?

Bear said this the other day:

Two heavy strength days and two lighter kettlebell/HIIT days with some walking like five or six days per week is all I can take. I feel too beat up when I try to lift like I did even in my 40s. I will turn 60 soon.

Everything I’ve read says that HIIT probably isn’t a good idea for older people, at least not as a regular routine. Also, steady cardio rather than HIIT seems to be better at stimulating the generation of neurons in the hippocampus, which is an area of the brain that has to do with learning and memory. This is stuff we lose (along with muscle mass) as we get older, so I’d like to hang on to as much of my brain (and muscle mass) as possible as I age.

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Right now, just about everything I’ve got is sore, even my thighs, and I haven’t done squats since last Wednesday.

I just realized that because of my change in schedule, when I do squats on Thursday, over a week will have elapsed since my previous squat work. I hope I’ve got recovery to burn this coming Thursday so I can surprise myself with heavier lifts.

Guess I’ll play my cardio and core work days by ear and see what comes up, that is, unless anyone else out there has some good ideas.

You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

Abraham Lincoln


2 thoughts on “Becoming Reacquainted With Boring Cardio and Core Day

  1. Hi James., it sure is tougher dropping weight as we get older. Even at 50 years of age I was able to drop ten lbs in a week when I needed too in order to get to 198 for a PL meet.Now I don’t really eat that much but the weight stays the same. Anyway here is something I read from Rippetoe last week.
    I am not sure that you will agree with all he says, neither do I, but he sure is still strong.


    1. Heck yeah, he’s strong, and you’re right. I don’t agree with everything Rip says. Neither do the people commenting on that article.

      I do agree that spot reduction is a myth, but doing back extensions and ab crunches actually strengthened my lower back and, along with other exercises and learning to squat and deadlift correctly, my lower back pain is a thing of the past and my deadlift has skyrocketed (though I’m no where near a 500 pound DL).

      I’m just a hair over 200 pounds now, and want to get back down to what I was a few months back and then continue to reduce the body fat while only gaining weight in muscle mass.


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