Posted by Natasha Mckenzie on Friday, October 18th, 2013


For those of you who follow my Facebook and Instagram @mckenziemathieson you will notice that I do hit the cardio fairly hard in the final stages of my comp prep. If you are preparing for a competition there are two methods which people use to drop body fat. Diet and weights alone or diet, weights and cardio combined. I choose to have a short preparation period usually being 7 – 8 weeks. I don’t enjoy long preps but I know that is just what works for my body. I would rather go hard for a short period of time as opposed to dieting for 12 – 14 weeks. Some people will need a longer period of time depending on how their body responds to their diet and the amount of fat they have to lose. I would personally rather eat more and train harder as opposed to dropping my calories too low.


In the final stages of my prep I train cardio 5-6 sessions per week on top of my weight training. I would not recommend this for someone who is training for every day fitness and health as you can burn out and it is not sustainable in the long term. As I have said in my previous blogs, competitions are not for everyone as they put a lot of stress on the body both physically and mentally. Too much cardio may also have an adverse effect on the hormones in the body so if you’re having trouble always seek advice from an expert. During my offseason I barely train cardio at all because I go into calorie surplus in order to build as much muscle as possible.


As I am doing a lot of cardio at the moment I need to make sure I reduce the chance of my body using my muscle as fuel (because nobody wants that Miley look). I think that generally, “cutting” is not a time for muscle growth. Most people are going to lose a bit of muscle along the way. For that reason I like to keep my cardio sessions short and high intensity. You may have heard of High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. Without getting technical it’s basically a form of training involving high intensity sprints or exercises followed by a period of rest and then repeated. You will rarely see me doing HIIT in excess of 40 minutes. The only time I choose steady state cardio is when I’m feeling too sore or tired to handle the HIIT.


So what do I choose to do for HIIT? I prefer treadmill sprints and stairs. I quite often go up to Kings Park with friends and we do the Kokoda stairs or Jacob’s Ladder. About half an hour before my cardio sessions I take Ultimate Nutrition L-Carnitine, being a non-stimulant fat burner, and BPM Lipo Drive powder which is a combined fat burner and pre-workout. Here a photo of one of my training sessions, my fat burning supplements and also one about 4 weeks out from comp.


Gotta give a shoutout to my friends Chris, Laura and Johnny who have been by my side pushing me along through this prep!!



I’m not a huge fan of cardio and I only use it to get results faster over a short time span. Whilst I admire the endurance of athletes who can perform for prolonged periods of time the effect of that kind of training does not create an appearance which is desirable to me. Below, for example, is the difference between a marathon runner and sprinter. It is important to find a combination of cardio, weights and nutrition which works for your body. Happy training everyone ?

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