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Fitness & Health

05th Nov 2018

Old school bodybuilder explains why he didn’t do cardio to burn fat

Franco Columbu starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Pumping Iron. According to the Italian, lifting weights is enough cardio for burning fat

Alex Roberts

The 1970s and 80s were essentially the ‘Golden Era’ of bodybuilding

The way Golden Era bodybuilders approached weight training and cardio was novel and set the standard for what followed.

Prior to these decades, bodybuilding was more of an underground enterprise, but competitors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and his peers helped elevate the sport into the mainstream.

Franco Columbu starred alongside Arnold in seminal documentary Pumping Iron. The Italian was arguably one of the most complete weightlifters ever – competing in World’s Strongest Man as well as the Mr. Olympia contests.

When it comes to weight loss, many people assume going for a run or pounding away at the treadmill are fundamental for burning fat.

However, according to Columbu, cardio isn’t that important for getting lean. In fact, it hardly featured at all in the programmes of old school bodybuilders.

Speaking to Muscular Development Magazine, Columbu said:

“People never understood that lifting weights is cardio. I don’t know why people think that only running is cardio.

“The cardio comes from training for three hours a day, with 30 seconds apart between each set.”

Columbu was quick to point out that not all weight training counts as cardio.

“Lifting does not become cardio if you’re doing deadlifts, for example.”

Deadlifts are typically performed with a heavier weight for lower reps and longer rest periods, so the intensity of these is difficult to ramp up.

“But bodybuilding in the gym – going from one machine to another – is cardio”, Columbu claimed.

Does that mean you shouldn’t do cardio if you’re looking to lose weight? Probably not.

  • Bodybuilders of Columbu’s era spent up to three hours training each day, which is beyond most people.
  • Aerobic exercise – such as a fast-paced walk – has also been shown to aid fat burning.

Getting into a calorie deficit with your diet will help you lose weight, irrespective of how much time you’re spending on the treadmill.

For instance, if you need 2500 calories to maintain your weight but only consume around 2300 from food and drink combined, you will drop fat.

Read more from JOE’s Ditch the Dad bod plan