We are having QUITE a discussion around extreme cardio and I just wanted to post an official blog on the subject and my thoughts. :)
First of all, I speak about cardio from my own personal experience and come from a place of love and concern for my fellow athlete's/competitors/women who love iron. :) I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or talk down to anyone. I want to share the information and knowledge that I have from my experience and my years of training along with what I have learned from the hours and hours of reading and sharing others experiences.
Please, please, please know that this is my opinion from my experiences and knowledge coming from a place of love. Did I say that already?? :)
I did the two hours of cardio. I did it for 14 weeks and did two back to back competitions. And then I pretty much stopped working out consistently, completely fell off a consistent eating plan and was sick for about 6 months. Literally. I lost my desire to workout and I struggled with intensity.
Now, did I have other things going on in my life like a very rigorous work schedule? YES! Wedding? YES! But, I feel strongly that the 3 hours a day of training (cardio and lifting) and then another hour of food prep put me in a place of extreme over training - mentally and physically.
Further, I was TRAINING my body to store fat once I went back to a normal life. Training it - think about it - your body is surviving on like 1100 calories a day and you are doing tons of cardio and then you start eating normally and training regularly and your body is freaking out - thinking it has to store up for the next starvation so pack it on, pack it on, pack it on.
And it took ME (again this is my story and my perspective) a long time to get back into it. In fact, at one point I said I would never compete again and even said I regretted it. Now I am in a wonderful place.....I know what I need to eat. I know how I need to train. I know I need to dial it in at certain intervals out from the contest. I know I can do it with mental and physical commitment but NOT 2 hours of cardio a day.
And you know what - AFTER this next competition I KNOW what to expect and my body will adjust - not drastically like the last time.
So, that is why I feel the way I do. That COMBINED with tons of articles and scientific info about how your body responds to extreme dieting and cardio. Show me scientific data that supports the long term benefits of 2 hours a day cardio on low calories? Your not going to find it. What you will find is scientific, imperial and experience (lots of competitors) based data that says High Intensity Interval training for 30 minutes and intense weight training workouts and a consistent diet (even adding re-feeds) over a long period of time allow you to achieve your goals AND not rebound.
That's all I got. I hope those of you who have an opinion chime in....to each their own I ALWAYS say and I feel that way as well. Everyone has to go on their own journey and I hope each of you finds the journey that is healthiest and happiest.