If you dread running on the treadmill as much as I do, then I have some good news for you: cardio is actually not the best option for weight loss.
For years we have been led to believe that to lose fat, we need to do lots of cardio. The more the better, in fact. But recent studies show that overdoing cardio can actually prevent you from losing stubborn fat.
If you do cardiovascular exercise frequently and your sessions are 60 minutes or longer, you’re probably overdoing it. Eventually, your body will adapt to the strain of your cardio sessions, making them ineffective.
To avoid this plateau, you’ll need to continuously increase the intensity of your cardio sessions and train harder. So if your long-term goal is fat loss, then long and boring cardio sessions just aren’t going to cut it.
Can too much cardio result in muscle loss? Yup.
Worst yet, if you’re training like a marathon runner and are not consuming enough protein in your diet, your body will eventually enter a catabolic state and you can actually lose muscle. Losing muscle reduces your strength and slows down your metabolism. If your metabolism slows down too much, you’ll have a tough time burning fat – making the long cardio sessions completely counterproductive.
Blast Fat with HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)
So what does work? Well, it all comes down to numbers: to lose body fat you need to burn more calories than you consume.
The most effective way to lose body fat is to do a combination of high-intensity cardio and weightlifting.
Try sprinting instead of jogging. Do intervals, or better yet, high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Your cardio needs to be shorter, faster, and more intense.
The principle here would be jogging for two minutes, sprinting for one, or jogging for one minute, sprinting for 30 seconds, and so on. You can alter the formula to suit your needs and ability.
A study from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston found that subjects who did a HIIT workout while cycling burned significantly more calories 24 hours after the workout than those who cycled at a moderate steady-state intensity.
Another study published in 2007 by the University of New South Wales found that alternating working at high intensity for short bursts followed by steady-state burned more fat in a shorter amount of time than continuous cardio exercise.
Weight Training and Fat Loss
Have you ever heard someone say, “My favourite part of cardio is jogging past the cardio zone on my way to the weights area?”
Some people make the mistake of spending all their time in the cardio zone. Don’t be one of those people. Go to the weights area and train with some weights.
If you’re not quite sure what you’re doing, hire a personal trainer to help you get you started. A few sessions with a PT will help you identify your weak areas and ensure that you have correct form while doing exercises.
Why is Weight Training So Effective?
For one thing, muscle doesn’t just sit in your body doing nothing. Muscle actually burns calories 24 hours a day. This means that the more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism becomes and the more fat you’re able to burn.
Ladies, don’t worry about appearing “bulky” if you lift weights. Weights will sculpt your body and enhance your feminine figure. Check out any girl that squats regularly – she probably doesn’t look manly at all, does she? Quite the opposite! Weight training your glutes gives you beautiful curves!
So Is Cardio Really That Bad?
In summary, no, cardio is not bad for you. Cardio is great for your heart and lungs and is a good way to build endurance.
It’s always good to remember that more is not always better. When cardio becomes long, repetitive, and boring – that’s when you know it’s time to switch things up.
If you’re serious about shredding some fat (and keeping it that way), clean up your diet and boost your metabolism by doing high-intensity cardio and weightlifting. That’s the most effective way to burn fat and keep it off.