Cardio and Weight Loss - The Truth About Cardiovascular
it comes to weight loss, specifically fat loss, cardiovascular exercise
may be the number one modality individuals use to accomplish that
goal. This is very common with women because they think resistance
training will make them bulky, and only cardiovascular exercise
can make them thinner. Individuals also tend to get caught up in
how many calories they use during the workout. Even though cardiovascular
exercise can help you to lose weight, it shouldn't be the only exercise
mode you use. I'm about to burst your bubble: it takes more than
cardio to successfully lose weight and keep it off. An important
factor in any weight loss program is your resting metabolic rate,
which is dependent upon how much muscle you have. The more muscle
that you have, the more calories you will burn in a day at rest.
Cardiovascular exercise should be an adjunct to an effective resistance-training
program, in addition to a sound nutrition program. Here are a few
reasons why a cardiovascular program alone will not be an effective
weight loss tool.
- Cardio alone can actually reduce you resting metabolic rate.
Cardiovascular exercise performed in excess can be detrimental
to muscle. After about 45 minutes, catabolic hormones such as
cortisol increases drastically. The negative side effect to this
release is that muscle breakdown occurs, which results in a loss
of muscle mass over time. As muscle mass decreases, resting metabolism
also decreases which puts you at increased risk for re-gaining
unwanted fat weight. Yes, you can lose weight by doing cardio
alone. However, keep in mind that you are also losing quite a
bit of muscle with the fat.
- It does nothing for your body's shape. Muscle is what makes
you appear leaner and tighter. It's what gives your body shape,
for example it gives you the tight butt that you see on your favorite
movie stars (the ones who haven't been under the knife). You will
lose weight just doing cardio alone; however, if you had a flabby
appearance before losing weight you will have the same appearance
when you get to your desired weight goal.
body quickly adapts to cardio. Many times individuals perform
steady-state (low-intensity) cardiovascular exercise. They get
on a treadmill for 45 minutes and barely break a sweat, all while
talking on the cell with their friends. They may lose weight for
the first few weeks, but then they hit a plateau. They usually
end up walking longer or increasing the intensity (but not high
enough). Eventually, their body quits responding all together.
- If intensity isn't high enough, you won't be burning a lot of
fat calories. Many individuals still buy into the fat-burning
zone, which is a complete myth. In the fat-burning zone, you burn
a higher percentage of fat calories. When you take into account
total caloric expenditure, however, you actually use very little
fat calories compared to higher intensities. Moreover, caloric
expenditure after the workout will not last very long after the
workout, compared to an intense resistance training or interval
- Research has shown that performing 45 minutes of steady-state
cardio 5 days per week is no more effective than dieting alone
for weight loss. Basically, if your doing cardio alone you're
pretty much wasting your time.
- Low-intensity cardio done over a long-duration can lead to injury.
This is due to the fact that individuals don't prepare their bodies
to run, and may do too much too soon. Their core and hip muscles
are too weak to handle the stress of running and this can lead
to knee, lower back, and ankle injuries. One common injury that
runners experience is IT Band Syndrome, which is sometimes associated
with patellofemoral syndrome. Without some form of resistance
training, it will be hard to combat these injuries.
So, what should you take from these facts? First, you should add
resistance training to your weight management program in order to
boost resting and post-exercise metabolism, decrease risk of injury,
and reshape your body. Next, you should consider other forms of
cardio to do such as bodyweight circuits, kettlebell swings, and
sprint work. These options are great at boosting metabolism hours
after the workout. Running is good to do, but you must progress
slowly and mix in other options throughout the week. So next time
you want to burn fat quickly, reconsider your strategy!