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Cardio and Strength Training with Joe DeFranco

Tom Bushkie CEO/Co-Founder of hellowater® talks with Joe DeFranco, one of the country’s most highly sought-after performance enhancement specialists. This clip three of an hour-long interview where Tom and Joe discussed the topics of weight loss, nutrition, cardio, aging. As well as his introduction to hellowater®.

In this episode, Tom and Joe discuss: 

  • How cardio isn’t bad, but it’s grossly overused
  • Calories burned during exercise are the most overrated metric.

Transcript

Tom Bushkie:

That’s great. We’ll go back to fitness and physique, one of my pet peeves is when I walk into a gym and I see everyone on cardio equipment and one or two people overusing dumbbells, or spot racks, or machines. A lot of the time, the same people that I see there a year later are doing the exact same thing, looking the exact same way. So, let’s talk cardio. I know it’s a hot topic, and some people are going to say, “You got to have it,” some people are going to say, “It’s ruining you,” but what’s your take on it?

Joe DeFranco:

Cardio isn’t bad, but it’s grossly overused. Here’s the other thing, if you take nothing away from this, this is the soundbite that I want everyone to remember. Calories burned during exercise are the most overrated metric. If you’re going to rate exercises everyone goes, “The elliptical says I burned 500 calories in an hour, but the Peloton workout is 800 calories, so that’s the better workout.” Judging your workout, measuring the success of your workout by calories burned is the most overrated metric that you could possibly use. You have to look at it as “How does my body adapt to that activity?” So, when you look at strength training… When I say strength training, get out of your mind, if there are women listening, it’s got this stigma of bodybuilding magazine.

Tom Bushkie:

Mega huge.

Joe DeFranco:

You’re not going to look like the woman in the body-building magazine. Thankfully, even they’ve become more transparent now and have said, “We take drugs. We take performance-enhancing drugs, male hormones, to look like this.” The average woman couldn’t look like that if they wanted to, so don’t worry about that. I’m saying strength training for health and longevity. You put on a couple of pounds of muscle and lose a couple of pounds of fat, which nothing will change your body and your physique like strength training. Most women, when they say they want to be, “Shaped and toned, fit and toned,” they’re talking about having more muscle on their body and a little less fat. That’s what gives you shape. Muscle gives you shape, and if it’s not covered by excessive amounts of fat, you will have a nice shaped and toned body.

Joe DeFranco:

So, when we look at how our body adapts to strength training, we do not burn a ton of calories in an average 30, 45, 60-minute strength training session. But, what does happen is strength training improves our hormone profile, testosterone increases. With women, its slightly growth hormone increases. We improve our insulin sensitivity. We will build some muscle, and again, not 100 pounds of it, but two, three pounds of muscle is huge because muscle is metabolically active. Muscle needs to burn calories just to maintain itself. While I’m sitting here, the muscle on my body is burning calories just to maintain itself, even though I’m not doing anything physical. So now, I’m able to eat a little bit more without gaining weight, I’m burning more calories and fat at rest 25/7. And, it’s improving my strength, my energy levels, it’s associated with higher quality sleep. So many positive aspects of strength training, with regards to how our body adapts to it.

Joe DeFranco:

Whereas, cardio, I’m sorry, while you’re doing it… There are some benefits, certainly, but if you overdo it, the weight you lose, almost 100% of the time, 90 plus percent, is equal amounts of muscle and fat. And, a lot of times, more muscle than fat. So, you’re just going to become a smaller version of yourself, which isn’t necessarily a good thing because that’s going to decrease our hormone profile. And, guys’ testosterone drops, growth hormone levels drop. Now, all the things I talked about strength training, the adaptations that are created, the opposite actually happens when you overdo cardio. You’re tired all the time. You’re hungry. You’re fatigued. So, what happens? They go, “In need more cardio because now I’m at a sticking point, I’m not losing enough weight.” And then they do more. It’s just this whole cascade of events that’s horrible, so remember [crosstalk 00:25:39].

Tom Bushkie:

It’s a never-ending cycle until their hormones are all out of whack and then they’ve got to come back to baseline.

Joe DeFranco:

100%.

Tom Bushkie:

From a strength training standpoint, you have to know your baseline too. If you’ve never done it before you don’t need to come in and do 45 minutes of strength training. You need to come in and push yourself around whether it’s bodyweight or very, very light weights. Just something. Because, at that point, your muscles, really haven’t been stimulated in a long time in this particular way. So, to your point before, just do one little thing differently, a little bit is going to go a really long way, and then you just continue to build on that.

Joe DeFranco:

Yes.

Tom Bushkie:

So, I want our listeners to know that going in for five minutes or 10 minutes and doing something you’ve never done before to get your muscles to activate, to stimulate, is going to go a really long way, and you can build on that.

Joe DeFranco:

100%. A tip and I don’t want to pick on the females, but there’s a lot of misconceptions still with females and strength training. It’s getting better. A lot better. I only say this because I know females, my wife was like this when she first started training, the female athletes were like this when I first started training them. The ones that will hear of the benefits of strength training, which is great, that’s step one, a lot of them try to turn their strength workout into a cardio workout.

Joe DeFranco:

Remember, it’s not about how many calories we’re burning. Here’s a little tip, it’s like a hack. Another great point to remember, if you’re going to go to the gym and strength train like Tom said, doesn’t need to be a lot, pick one exercise. Three goes such a long way. If you do an upper-body push movement, like a bench press or a pushup, an upper-body pull, some kind of a row, and a lower body squat, a main lower body squat, or deadlift, or lunge-type movement, three basic movements and focus on getting stronger with perfect form. Technique and movement quality is always number one. Start with your body weight. When that gets easy, add two pounds. Then, add five pounds. But, try to improve your strength as your number one form of progression. Don’t say, “I want to really break a sweat. I want to make myself puke today.” No. Give yourself adequate rest so you improve your strength. I promise you, if you focus on improving strength when you go to the gym and you strength train two to three times a week, it could be from five to 30 minutes, your physique will improve, your energy will improve, you’ll be leaner and toner. It takes care of everything.

Joe DeFranco:

But, when you go and you try to turn it into a cardio workout, you’re not going to get the benefits of strength. Remember, we’re trying to put some muscle on. We’re trying to add three to five pounds of muscle and lose three to five pounds of fat. So, your scale weight will stay the same, but your body will start looking completely different, hormone profile, energy levels, it all changes. It’s incredible. So, strength. Think strength even if physique and getting leaner, and fitter, and toner is your main goal. Strength is the hack, trust me.

Tom Bushkie:

So, if I’m new to this and I do those three exercises, and you can obviously go onto YouTube and look up Joe DeFranco and look up the way to do these the right way, that’s easy, but how do I know when I’m done? If I’m just getting into it, I do those three exercises, do I do two rounds of that? Or, what if I’m exhausted after two rounds, is that good for the day, or do I push myself to try to get to four or five rounds because I’m here for a workout?

Joe DeFranco:

I would say, again, start small, grow slow. Start with your workout small, progress slowly. What’s your starting point? One size fits nobody. If you haven’t been doing anything, maybe it’s one round of each. To just give you some kind of a measurable, the RPE scale, Rate of Perceived Exertion, very, very simple. Scale from 1 to 10. 1 is the easiest thing you’ve ever done in your life, 10 is the hardest thing, you can’t do another round, another rep or you’ll pass out. If you’re going to the gym for the first time and you do those three exercises we just said, you go through them once, you do 10 reps of each one time. I would say your first week or two in the gym, keep that RPE at a six, like, “That was challenging, but I’m okay.” Stick with that.

Joe DeFranco:

And then, maybe a week or two later you could bump that up to a seven, to an eight. You could make progress without ever going to a 9 or a 10, just so you know. Nothing wrong with pushing yourself and challenging yourself as you get more advanced. In fact, I would encourage it every now and then sprinkled in. But, if you stay in that RPE, so to speak, six to seven, it’s challenging but it’s not so challenging that you’re frustrated. What you don’t want to do is push yourself so hard that you wake up the next morning and you can’t walk or [crosstalk 00:31:15].

Tom Bushkie:

You don’t even want to come back to the gym.

Joe DeFranco:

Yeah, now you’re not coming back to the gym. Even if you wanted to, you might have to wait a week for the soreness to go away. So, we want just enough that it’s challenging, but it’s not too challenging that you get frustrated, you’re sore, and you have to quit. So, think of it that way. Start small, progress slow.

Tom Bushkie:

I know we’re saying gym, but obviously, at home I could sit down and pop out a round of pushups and squats, could I do that three hours later, do it again, and three hours do it again? Do I have to do it all at once? Can I spread it out throughout the day?

Joe DeFranco:

Absolutely not. Great point. Again, one size fits nobody. I could say, “Hey, everyone’s got an hour in the day,” and you might say, “No, I really don’t.” I have kids, trust me, I get life happens, things happen. I wanted to go on a walk this morning and get my cardio in before this call, it didn’t happen, so I’m going to do it afterward. I like to walk 30 minutes in the morning, most days I can do that. I have a ton of clients that do 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes after lunch, 10 minutes after dinner. That works for them. Guess what? At the end of the day, we both got the same health benefits. The cumulative volume, so to speak, was 30 minutes of extra walking that day. So, 100%, if you could do a round, do a set every few hours, that’s absolutely fine and super beneficial.

Joe DeFranco:

However, you could fit it in is the best way for you. If you need to break your workout up into two or three mini-workouts from home and you say, “That’s what I need to do in order to still be doing this a year from now, 10 years from now,” 100% that’s what you do.

Tom Bushkie:

Because, you found a way to have some consistency, right?

Joe DeFranco:

Yes.

Tom Bushkie:

You found a way to fit it in your lifestyle. I’m over 40 now, and I feel like it’s definitely harder to maintain that physique. But, I’m also finding it a little less motivating to go to the gym for 30 minutes, for 45 minutes, so I’m trying to find little hacks of, “Can we just do a little something in the morning? A little something in the afternoon?” Wherever it might be. So, a great point and a great confidence builder, knowing that if Joe DeFranco says, “It’s still going to work. If you break it up, it’s still going to work.”

Joe DeFranco:

Just one last thing on that, I want people to know too, I’m in the health and fitness industry as someone who loves this stuff, and I 100% admit I don’t always feel like working out. I get busy, I have kids. I’m tired days and I don’t feel like doing it, but, as Tom said, if you do it the way we just mentioned it, you’re fitting it into your day… The goal is to develop the habits that then become disciplined, that you just fit it in each day. Discipline is when you’re able to do something even when you don’t want to. That’s where you want to get your training and your fitness at.

Joe DeFranco:

A lot of people talk about motivation Monday on Instagram. Motivation’s okay, but motivation doesn’t last. I could watch a Rocky IV training montage and be motivated, but it’s going to go away right after I’m done watching that video five minutes after. I need the habits and the discipline to do my 10-minute walk, my strength training workouts when I don’t want to. You need to get it to like brushing your teeth in the morning. I’ll assume everyone listening right now brushed their teeth this morning. I don’t always feel like brushing my teeth in the morning, I’m busy, I got things to do, I want to get up and start my day. But, you take that two to three minutes and you just do it. That’s discipline. You do it because you know you have to, it’s not because you’re motivated. It’s because it’s a habit. I wake up, I brush my teeth, I take a shower before I go to bed. Some nights am I tired, do I want to go to bed without taking a shower? Yes. But you do it because it’s just what we do. Once working out and training gets fit in with your brushing teeth, showering, now you’re in the right place.

Tom Bushkie:

Game over, you’re set for life.

Joe DeFranco:

Yes.

Tom Bushkie:

And, you’re strengthening your mind at the same point.

Joe DeFranco:

Yes.

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