Why Traditional Cardio isnít what itís all cracked Up to Be for Fat Loss
By Mark Page
Wednesday 22 Sep 2010 13:44:00
Browse all Health and Fitness articles


When asked to picture a typical “fat loss” program, most of you will see you on the treadmill or running outside for hours each week. Some will picture you on a stationary bike and then ‘performing’ some abdominal work outs on the abdominal cradle machine. Some will picture you cutting down on high fats and eating nothing but salads for 4 weeks. Some of you will think of a slimming club where you can eat this one day, but you can’t eat that the next day but you can eat our yoghurts which have are more chemically filled then natural Greek yoghurts (but they aren’t allowed those because they’re too high in points or whatever) or you will think of some other crazy fad (vibration machine anyone?) that claims to work best for fat loss.


Before I go on I’m going to state I’m not slamming traditional cardio here. It’s got many benefits to your health and I recommend people to do some sort of it in their program because it improves mental health, it helps us sleep better, lowers cholesterol etc but if your goal is fat loss then it falls pretty low down on the fat loss hierarchy.


Each day, I see the same people doing the same exercise routine as they did yesterday. They go to the same piece of cardio equipment and use the same level and go at that same slow pace as before. They don’t progress.


Guess what I see the next day?


I see the same old physique on the same person. No change. Next week? No change. It’s still the same workout and the same body. This happens for months and months on end (if not years).


Hopefully I’m not describing your training program here, if I am then take then I’m sure you’re wondering what the answer is?


Should they do more cardio? Of course not, that would be insanity! I’ve known people do over 10 hours of cardio and still not lose body fat. For the majority of us though we can only manage 3 out of 168 hours in the week to train so it’s about getting the most out of your sessions whilst you’re training.


The basic concept for any fat loss program is to burn as many calories as possible and maintain or increase lean tissue (which is what burns the calories in the first place). Regardless of how many calories you burn in training – once you lose lean tissue (a typical problem) you burn less calories overall – so your focus has to be on burning calories while trying to offset that problem.

A study in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition (8(3): 213-222, 1998) showed that 5 days a week of 45 min aerobic training for 12 weeks had no effect on body composition over dieting alone. Obviously even at these high levels of activity there is still a problem.

So where do I start?

For this scenario I’m going to imagine the reader is more than 20 lbs over weight.

Research (Jones et al., Sports Med. 18(3): 202-214, 1994) has shown that the intensity required by the average sedentary person trying to improve their cardiovascular system will likely create an excessive structural overload – in fact in this study there was a 50-90% injury rate in the initial six weeks of training. So first off I want you to start doing some form of resistance training to target weaknesses and imbalances. These usually are poor posture problems such as rounded shoulder, tight hip flexors, weak core strength etc. If you keep rest periods low then we can always get a cardio workout without the overuse injuries that often occur in the untrained from cardio training.

Word of warning: Don’t work to failure if you’ve not done any in a while or you’ll suffer from severe DOMS (Delayed onset of muscular soreness) for days on end.

It’s interesting that the typical program for an overweight person is usually 1000’s of reps (i.e. jogging on a treadmill) which will cause more problems. A better way would be to target the muscular system and control set duration and rest periods in order to create the same metabolic and cardiovascular demand. Thus burning calories and creating muscle tissue.

Ideally you’ll want to do this at least 3 days per week. The best way is to perform a full body routine which uses as many muscles as you can at once using big movement exercises such as rows, squats, push ups, etc.

I covered nutrition in the last article http://www.fansonline.net/middlesbrough/article.php?id=1777 a bit so I’ won’t bang on about it here but it is number one in importance.

If you have any additional time on your work out days or on separate days’ then performing some kind of interval training is a great idea. This is cardio but it’s different to traditional cardio. I’ll cover this in detail in a later article.

All you need to know for now is that it’s a period of time going hard (I.e. fast speed on a bike) followed by a period of recovery (i.e. a slow period of time on the bike).

One study found that interval training is proven to burn up to 9 times more fat when up against traditional aerobic training. Yes it’s harder, but it’s much more rewarding.

So my challenge to you all over the next few weeks is to ditch the treadmill, use your own bodyweight and use the free weight section in your gym focusing on big compound movements and watch your body fat drop and your body shape change to a much stronger and healthier looking physique. On the other days add in some form of interval training for about 20 minutes, eat the more of the right foods and watch your results soar.

Mark owns a Fitness Camp business in the Teesside area called Teesside Fitness Camp. He has been fitness professional for over 8 years. During those eight years, Mark has been committed to achieving excellence in results for fitness training and has developed his skills to get you the best results in the quickest possible time.

Our Teesside Fitness Camps feature 30-minute express workouts for busy professionals and they guarantee to help you drop a dress or pant size in 28 days or your money back.

We do this as we are sick and tired of health clubs, television shows, mediocre trainers, fads and anything else for that matter that are doing nothing but steal your money, giving you zero results when quite frankly you deserve more.

To learn more about us please visit http://www.teessidefitnesscamp.co.uk for more information.  


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