There has long been a debate surrounding the merits of doing cardio and its benefits for fat loss. The internet is awash with interviews from models to bikini competitors about two a day sessions six or even seven days a week leading up to events or competitions.
Sometimes, just because something is the done thing we presume it is the best or healthiest way to achieve a particular goal, but when it comes to cardio this is not necessarily the case. Here are some facts and tips for implementing cardio into your routine for the best results.
#1 Train For Your Goals
If you are planning to run a marathon, then indeed, you will need to factor in a lot of cardio to your routine and be specific about the type you choose.
On the other hand, if you are not training for a running event, there is no need to include the same amount of cardio as someone that is.
✓ For the recreational gym goer looking to lose fat, there would be great benefit in reducing your cardio and lifting more weights.
#2 Think Sustainability
If your routine is taking over your life and you don’t feel you could maintain the momentum long term, it might be time to change it. This can often be the case with two -a-day cardio sessions.
It’s important to remember that consistency is always better than perfection, and less is always more in cases like this. Your body also adapts to the stresses you place on it, so if you discover that it is taking more and more cardio just to maintain your weight, this can have a negative impact on your metabolism and of course your emotions too.
✓ You can definitely get results in a more time efficient manner and still have fun!
#3 Train Smart
Training smart can seriously reduce your cardio time down whilst still getting great results. Using high intensity interval training (H.I.I.T) is a really effective way of burning fat in a short period of time. It simply consists of training all out for a few seconds, and then slow the pace down to recover, then go all out again. This form of cardio has been shown to burn fat while maintaining more muscle than traditional steady state cardio.
It is important to note that this type of cardio should only be performed a few days a week as the body needs to time to recover between sessions. Quality is better than quantity in this case.
✓ Use cardio for enjoyment! Doing some HIIT Intervals or a 4-minute Tabata Workout anywhere – anytime – can give you a sense of achievement and really boost your confidence. This is one of the great benefits of using cardio smartly and to your best advantage. You can even gather some friends in to make it even more fun!
#4 Emphasise Weight Training
It is not as simple as merely looking at calories in vs. calories out when it comes to the mode of training performed. Weight training has a different effect on the body than cardio as it contributes to more lean muscle mass growth.
This is crucial to fat loss, as muscle burns calories even at rest, whereas fat does not do this.
✓ Excessive cardio, although it will burn some fat, will also take some muscle with it; this has the effect of reducing your metabolic rate, which is why some people find the need to do more and more cardio just to maintain their current weight.
✓ By increasing the intensity of your weight training, you can get even better results fat burning wise without having to spend hours on the treadmill
#5 Nutrition Is Key
Nutrition is so important for anyone trying to change their body composition.
Although it’s a saying that is like a broken record, it is true, you cannot outtrain a bad diet!
Keep an eye on what is on your plate and fuel your body how it deserves to be and you will be amazed at how quickly you will see a difference in your fat loss results.
Take home message
Cardio is often either demonised or glorified; when the balance is right it is a great tool in your kit for fat loss.
By implementing these tips into your cardio plan and training for your personal goals you will get the best results possible out of your routine!