Sydney body builder and personal trainer Nathan Page had always believed weight training was the most important part of his exercise regime, with cardio taking a back seat.
But all that changed when Page realised he had to drop at least 10 kilos to be eligible to enter the International Federation of Body Building state championships.
Needing to lose weight fast he embarked on a three-month exercise regime consisting entirely of cardio -“ swimming, soft-sand jogging and cycling -“ plus a high protein, low-fat diet. He didn’t lift a single weight during those 12 weeks.
Page thought he’d lose a lot of muscle in the process and was shocked to discover he lost hardly any. The cardio he did maintained his bulky physique to the point where I was getting worried I was still not going to make the weight division, he said.
It was only by taking what he called drastic measures with his diet that he managed to lose the kilos and went on to win the state championship in the Classic Open Division.
When I got up on stage and they said, -˜This man hasn’t lifted a weight in three months,’ people were really blown away by it, Page said. I really retained a lot of muscle. I was quite surprised.
The revelation changed Page’s entire outlook on exercise. I’d never made cardio a priority, but now it is. My day will now be structured more around cardio than weights. I’ll only do three weights sessions a week. As long as I get my 45 minutes of cardio in a day, I’m happy.
It’s also changed how he treats his personal training clients, especially men trying to beef up and people trying to recover from injuries.
People who are worried about losing size while nurturing an injury, if you eat right and do the right cardio you can definitely maintain your size. Don’t rush back into weights too quickly, he said.
Page’s favourite exercise became soft-sand jogging, which he did every day on the beach at Bondi or Coogee.
It’s incredibly good for the lower body and you recruit a lot of your core stabilisation muscles too -“ your abdominals, your obliques, lower lumbar -“ to keep your body upright, he explained.
Your upper body gets a great workout as well because you have to rotate and twist and keep yourself upright. Then you’ve got the respiratory benefits. Taking lots of deep breaths while jogging helps you burn fat at an incredibly fast rate.
After jogging you will continue to burn fat for at least an hour if you don’t have a meal containing carbs, he said.
Mentally it’s also incredibly therapeutic.
And it’s an excellent chance to perv, which is inspiration enough, Page joked.
While he was training for the competition his diet, which he said was quite extreme, usually consisted of a breakfast of brown rice, avocado and grilled chicken, then a protein shake after training.
Lunch was grilled fish with vegetables and another protein shake after training. Dinner would consist of grilled fish or chicken.
When he does weight train Page said he doesn’t lift heavy weights. He’s a believer in doing lots of repetitions with small weights, which pumps more blood into the muscle and causes them to grow.
Which always means I get paid out in the gym when I do my little two-kilo dumbbell side raises, Page said.