New Year. New You. Same Cardio Mistakes
By Mark Page
Thursday 13 Jan 2011 21:47:00
Browse all Health and Fitness articles


It's that time again.... no not chico time.... but it's New Year resolution time. 

This is the year! This is the year I’m going to rid that baby weight! 

This is the year I’m going to lose my beer gut! 

This is the year I’m going to get killer legs so that I look great on a night out! 

This is the year...... you get my point.


You're so fired up to it right now it's unreal! You're raring to go! The fire is burning in your belly to get started and to really kick on this time and achieve some amazing results!

But it ain't gonna happen is it? Why do I know this?


Because for most people you have done exactly the same thing last year, the year before that, and possibly the year before that. Maybe... the year before that! There's an old saying; "If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll get what you've always got"



Now this time of year sees a rise in gym memberships. Great! More people are exercising and taking an interest in their health. Top stuff! However, I reckon 99.5% head straight to the Cross Trainer thing or a treadmill to do some 'serious fat burning' by doing what we call 'cardio'. The only thing is that it's not really doing much fat burning. Especially for these 99.5% of people doing it this way.


It's not their fault though. They don't understand how the body works to burn body fat. They only know out dated methods that simply don't work in the busy, stressful world that we live in.


I always find it confusing that someone will head to the gym or hit the roads to get in shape without much of an idea yet they wouldn't perform their own filling in a tooth - unless you're outright crazy! But that's for another note : )


For the majority of us we don't really have a lot of time. I'm sure many have kids, I’m sure many of you work long hours too so you can only commit around 3-4 hours per week. 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. Although this is a cardio article it's imperative you do resistance training in your program.


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 ladder.


As far as I’m concerned if you are going to do cardio then you have 2 options.


A) High intensity cardio - sprints


B) Walk


Sprinters are some of the leanest people on the planet, and many body builders who are competing use walking as a cardio method to help them lean up for a show.


So why no jogging or nothing in between?


When somebody performs jogging or hopping on a machine for 30-40 minutes you get negative effects such as increased cortisol, muscle loss, muscle inbalance and overuse plus many more.


Just incase you're wondering what cortisol is:


Cortisol is a 'super hormone' is our body's anti-stress hormone which is designed to help us re-stabilise and rebalance the body when our system becomes overloaded with physical, emotional and environmental stress (all daily stuff). The problem is, if it remains elevated for too long because our daily stress refuses to come down then it wreaks havoc on the body, cannibalising your muscle tissues, affecting the other hormones in your body and, effectively, putting your metabolism in reverse gear.


Not good.


Also when your muscles have to continuously contract for 30, 45, or 60 minutes, that energy has to come from somewhere. The body is stubborn and doesn’t want to burn fat for energy so it eats up your muscle instead. This immediately kills your metabolism.


So back to what's good. 


A) Sprinting. 


Chances are you haven't done a whole lot of sprinting since PE at school. So I advise you to start on low distances (around 20 metres) and gradually build up to about 40 metres. There's no point doing 30-40 seconds straight off the bat because (a) you'll not manage a sprint for the duration (b) you'll probably get injured. 


NB: Note 20 metres means you will have to jump away from the machines and go outside for some much needed vitamin D : ) 


Rest as long as you need to in between. You have to get to know your body. Listen to it. If you feel you can't sprint around 80-90% of your max on your next rep take a little longer. Over time your recovery will improve.


1-2 sessions a week will be enough.


B) Walking.



Although in a fat loss program walking is quite low down on many peoples list I still recommend it. As long as you do the sprints and train with resistance (body weight at our fitness camp for example) then walking can have a great effect on your fat loss goals.


The good thing about walking is you get outside in the fresh air, you get your vitamin D, and if you're a little stiff from a training session it will help your recovery. Remember though, it isn't a leisurely stroll. You want to get your heart rate up to about 65% so you'll be breathing heavier than the norm, but nowhere near a jog and get it done for about 30 minutes or so.


Try to get this done 3 times a week minimum; I’d even go as far as 5-6 mornings a week. At the end of the day it's extra calorie burning without affecting your cortisol levels or eating into your muscle tissue.


Feel free to buy a weighted vest or take a rucksack to make your walk a little more challenging.



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 for more information.  



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