Are you trying real hard to lose weight? Following all the rules? Doing plenty of good quality cardio exercise? If you’re really committed, you might even be putting in an hour each day! Gotta burn up those calories. Gotta stay in the fat-burning zone.
If this is you, you’re in trouble. Serious trouble.
Why Cardio Exercise Is Keeping You Fat
In my ten years as a Personal Trainer I’ve noticed a scary trend. I’ve watched people pound the treadmills, bikes, and steppers day after day, after week, after month, after year – and not only not lose weight, but actually gain it! So why is it that so many people who walk, run, ride, step daily just can’t seem to slim down? And why is it that when I dramatically slashed the amount of cardio performed by myself and my clients, the weight came off almost immediately?
Because it’s complete and utter baloney that you need to do stacks of cardio to lose weight.
You Just Can’t Beat Your Programming
- While cardio exercise can assist you to lose weight in the short-term (but only if you’re coming from a background of little or no activity), these effects soon taper off.
- This is because cardio exercise is repetitive by nature, and your body is conditioned to adapt quickly to repetitive movement. After all, why waste energy (that means burn fat) on something that requires a relatively low level of functional movement? And no, it doesn’t matter that cardio puts you in the ‘fat-burning zone!’ It’s all about what your body does after the event …
- As a result, the only way to continue the fat loss response from cardio exercise is to perform greater and greater amounts of the stuff ..
- Not only is this not practical, it actually backfires on you in the end anyway
- You see, regular bouts of repetitive cardio elicit a fat-storing response within your hormonal system. This is because evolution has programmed your body to store fat in times of crisis – and long-duration cardio is viewed as just that. In nature, you’d only be on the move for a period of time if you had a threat to your survival: to your food source, your safety, or your shelter. So it would be important to store fat faster.
Does that make sense? I’m thinking that no matter how much of a cardio queen – or king – you are (hey, I’ve been there, I know it’s hard to give up), you’ve still got to admit there’s something to what I’m saying.
How To Shed Fat And Keep It Off
- Perform functional movements like squatting, lunging, bending, pulling, pushing, or twisting.
- Force continual adaptation and an increased fat-burning response by combining these movements in different ways, and with varying loads or added stimulus. My Functional Fitness article outlines this for you in more detail.
- Don’t cut out cardio altogether – just make sure that you’re using it to your advantage by training your anaerobic fitness system (good for metabolism and lean muscle growth) as well as your aerobic (healthy for your heart but not ideal for fat loss). Some approaches to cardio can be a useful addition to your weights or functional training. The side salad to the meat and veg, so to speak. But I’m not talking about standard cardio training. Have you heard of interval training? This is a great method for fitness and fat loss, when combined with an effective weights or functional movement pattern. An example of interval training would be to set aside no more than 20 minutes wherein you run one minute as fast as you can, then walk or jog a minute to recover. You can vary (and should vary) each element of your interval training with each session. This means change the total time, each interval time, the ‘hard’ speed, the additional factors (such as incline, terrain), and so on.
Personally, I perform about 2-3 20 or so minute cardio sessions each week. All interval based. I train weights for about 30-45 minutes 3 or 4 times each week. If you want to get lean and stay that way I’d suggest you do the same!
Life is Now: Don’t waste yours on the treadmill.
Oh – and Press Play :
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