Hopefully, that was the first question that came to your mind when you read the title!
If you are like my clients & me, then you’ve been trained through excellent marketing from health clubs, cardio equipment manufacturers, shoe companies, sports drink companies, “fitness” magazines, and so called “experts” that all you need to do to lose weight is long, slow, steady state cardiovascular exercise. Run five miles, ride a bike ten miles, but the Acme Tread-climber-stepper-rower machine and use it 3x per week for 30 minutes per day and you’ll get in the best shape of your life, right?
Allow me to back up a bit. As a rule, the best workout program is the one that you will consistently stick to. If you love long-distance running, or hanging out on the elliptical for 45 minutes at the gym because it gives you a break from the housework & kids, don’t stop!
However, there are more time-efficient & effective ways to perform cardio in order to lose weight, than long, slow cardio.
Here’s what happens after doing traditional cardio for a long time: initially, any type of cardio you do will increase your heart rate, make you sweat, burn a decent amount of calories during the session, and you will probably lose a few pounds if you do it consistently for a couple of weeks. However, your body adapts to doing that very quickly.
So, after a month of doing the same thing, you don’t sweat as much, your hear rate doesn’t increase as much, and you don’t burn anywhere near as many calories as you did initially. Additionally, if you’re not including resistance training in your workouts, you are losing muscle very quickly, and muscle tissue is what allows you to burn calories throughout the day.
As you can see, this can quickly become counterproductive to your weight loss efforts! Lowering your metabolism, or burning fewer calories daily, by losing muscle tissue, decreasing the amount of calories you burn during exercise by doing long, slow cardio, and maintaining the same amount of calories you get from food will at best leave you at a weight loss plateau, and at worst, can make you start gaining weight!
So yes, doing the wrong kind of cardio or too much cardio can make you fat!
How do you keep this from happening? A method called interval-training cardio is legitimately the only way to consistently keep you burning as many calories as you need to lose weight. Briefly, interval training involves doing cardio at a steady pace with intermittent short bursts of increased intensity. This can be applied to any type of cardio training: running, biking, swimming, kickboxing, even regular resistance training!
In my next article, I will give you a few examples of how to properly perform interval cardio and implement it into your routine, in order to keep your cardio from making you fat!
Stay focused, stay fit