Before I get any hate mail or any rants and raves from people calling me an idiot, let me clarify. Cardio does work to lose fat. That’s obvious. Cardio is great for general health, heart health, and just getting you up off your butt. However, when it comes to losing fat quickly, especially for busy moms and dads, cardio workouts are very, very overrated. Is that sacrilegious for a personal trainer to say that cardio is overrated or doesn’t work?
I don’t think so. In my personal opinion, it’s lazy and uninformed personal trainers, nutritionists, medical professionals and any other health-related professional who are the ones who should be ashamed and feel stupid for not doing the work and actually help the people who come to them seeking assistance. Before I burn anymore bridges, let me go over a few of the reasons why cardio workouts for fat loss are the most overrated type of exercise known to man (followed closely by crunches).
1. Traditional cardio workouts for weight loss are a huge time waster.
When you think of cardio for weight loss, how long do you think you need to do it? Most people that I come across tend to think you need to do it for a minimum of 30 minutes and some even go so far as to say you need to do it for 60-90 minutes A DAY to get any sort of weight loss benefit. Do you really have 60 minutes of free time to devote to an ineffective cardio workout?
Your body is very smart and it adapts to whatever form of exercise you throw at it. That’s one of the reasons you should change up your workout every few weeks, but this is especially true when it comes to cardio workouts for weight loss. Let me give you a few numbers to consider. Let’s say that you traditionally do a cardio workout for around 45 minutes 3-6 days a week and that burns roughly 400 calories. Sounds good, right? But the thing you don’t realize is that every time you do that workout, your body is adapting to that workout, which means you burn fewer and fewer calories every time you do it.
So after a few weeks time, instead of burning 400 calories, you’re burning 380. You can take that out further and say in a few months time you’re only burning around 300 calories. But how do you fix that problem? The goal is to burn more calories, not less right? To fix it, you’d either have to do your cardio for a longer period of time, or work harder in that 45 minutes. Sounds good. You can do that…but remember, you’re working harder and going longer to turn the same amount of calories you burned a few months ago, when you weren’t working as hard. Call me crazy, but I don’t think that’s the goal you’re looking for.
3. The ‘fat burning zone’ does not exist.
This is one of my favorite cardio workout for weight loss myths because it’s a pretty skewed way of looking at science. Yes, your body does burn a higher PERCENTAGE of fat in a certain heart rate, or working zone, but who cares. When I’m sitting on my butt in front of the TV, my body is burning a higher percentage of body fat than it is when I’m working my tail off doing a fat burning workout, but that doesn’t mean I’m burning more fat. The key word is ‘percentage’.
Do you want to burn a higher percentage of fat, or just more fat? If you’re like most people you just want to burn more fat and you couldn’t care less what the percentage of fat calories is to non-fat calories. To burn more fat, you have to stop doing so much low-to-moderate intensity cardio and start doing more resistance training and interval training. The resistance training shouldn’t take long and should involve lots of full body workouts and full body exercises. It should take you less than 20 minutes (hopefully around 10) so that you don’t hav any excuses for not doing it.
It should not focus on worthless exercises like triceps kickbacks, chest flies, leg extensions, biceps curls, etc. and should focus on exercises that give you more fat burning bang for your buck. So stop putting all your faith in the treadmill, elliptical trainer, stationary bike and stair-stepper and quit going right to the cardio area in the gym as soon as you walk in the door because that is not the best way to lose fat. There are far better ways than the traditional cardio workouts for weight loss that will burn fat much quicker and have you feeling better and healthier in a lot less time than most cardio addicts spend warming up.