The great cardio myth

The great cardio myth

Why do you go for a jog, swim or cycle? Sure there is the fitness and health benefits, you’ll feel better, reduce stress and they all provide great mental health advantages. But, my guess is that the main reason the vast majority of you go and sweat it out around the park or in the gym is to burn some fat. Am I right? Whether it be the muffin-top, the love handles, the tuck-shop arms or the keg, fat loss motivates most of us to do cardio.

But, what if I was to tell you you’re wasting your time. What if I was to tell you many of the world’s leading exercise minds don’t do any cardio at all for fat loss? Wouldn’t that rock you to your sweaty socks?

The truth is cardio, by cardio I mean any long duration low to medium intensity monotonous activity, is flawed as a fat loss method. Here’s why.

  • The more cardio you do the less fat you burn at any given intensity. Your body becomes efficient and you have to constantly work harder and harder, or longer and longer, to get the same fat burning result.
  • During cardio you only burn fat whilst you’re exercising. The burn stops as soon as you do.
  • It’s at the muscle where the fat is burnt. Cardio reduces the amount of muscle mass we have. So, we lessen our ability to burn fat.

So, why have we been told to do cardio all these years? The answer is because whilst we understood the flaws we still thought it was the best option. Well it isn’t. Here’s what is.

Strength training is the king of fat burning exercise. Long reserved for the boys wanting to get ripped it is now thought to have amazing fat burning properties. Here’s why

  • It’s high intensity so burns a lot of fat in a short time while exercising.
  • Due to the amount of work that goes on inside the muscle after a workout to repair the muscle, we actually burn fat for days afterwards. As the muscle repairs itself from the workout it constantly burns fat as it gets to work. Research has shown that we can burn fat for up to 72 hours after a hardcore strength session.
  • Strength training maintains and even increases muscle mass. So, while cardio reduces our future fat burning potential, strength training allows us to ramp things up.

Let’s just clarify a few things. The strength training I’m talking about is not using those useless gym machines at the gym. I’m talking about strength exercises using dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls and even just our own bodyweight. I’m also not talking about isolation exercises like concentration biceps curls, these focus on too small an area to be effective. You need to be doing whole body exercises that use the legs, upper body and abs all at the same time. And also for the ladies, no I’m not recommending you get bodybuilders muscles. Feminine subtle muscle toning will do it.

The future of fat loss is here. Join the party.

By the exercise scientist himself, Damien Kelly

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