Is cardio preventing you from losing fat?

A very common sight in the gym (especially with women) are people spending hours and hours of cardio a week trying to lose weight. This is fantastic and will help your overall health when you compare it to the opposite, watching endless netflix whilst eating a share size chocolate bar every night (been guilty of this a few times myself).

Will hours and hours of cardio prevent you from losing fat, the simple answer is no. HOWEVER just think will endless hours on the treadmill/bike and the 1000’s of burpees get you the body that you want? As well as this, are all the hours of cardio a week sustainable? With some people the answer is yes, if you enjoy putting your body through high amounts of pain everyday. Even with this, you will most likely end up burning yourself out at some point. This will lead you to feel tired and lack motivation to exercise. Most of us will become bored and unmotivated before we even get to this point. Cardio is good at putting our body in a calorie deficit. If your body is in a calorie deficit you will lose fat, but think about how you will look if you keep performing cardio on a regular basis. Elite Long distance runners have very low body fat, their body is designed to run long distances and are fantastic at doing so. Is your aim of coming to the gym to have a body like an elite long distance runner. If this is your aim then cardio is fantastic, however if you want the “toned” look then cardio everyday is unlikely to give you this.

So what can we do?

Change your training regularly
Don’t stick to the same routine all the time. Add some extra exercises in every 4-6 weeks to keep it fresh. Performing the same routine in the gym every time you go is likely to get boring. E.g. If you usually do 20 mins on the treadmill, try some HIIT (high intensity interval training) instead. Just type in HIIT workout in on youtube.com and there will be 100’s of workouts to choose from. Also if you usually do basic sets on your strength exercises, try some circuits, perform 3-4 different exercises without a rest.

Lift some weights
I am not saying you should start lifting heavy weights 5x per week. However adding a few strength exercises to your routine will have a number of benefits to your body. It will improve muscle size, reduce body fat, increase your metabolism, low impact on your joints (compared to running and jumping) and many more….  (Women you WILL NOT become “bulky”, you are very unlikely to have enough testosterone in your system)

Get a training partner
Training with another person will push you out of your comfort zone. If you are training with somebody else you are more likely to do the exercises that you aren’t confident with, also they are also likely to introduce you to new exercises. Once you have become confident with these exercises you can add them more frequently into your training routine and you are less likely to become bored. They will also give you that extra push to exercise on the days you don’t quite feel up to it.

Don’t stop cardio
Cardio is an important factor in order to live a healthy lifestyle. The point I am trying to make is that performing cardio all the time might not be the best way to achieve your goals. Still keep it in your workout routine, it is very important. Also cardio doesn’t have to be boring. I play 6 a side football twice a week. I can assure you that I am working twice as hard playing football than I ever would on the treadmill at the gym. So cardio can come through a hobby such as badminton, netball, football, running, swimming or anything that you can feel increasing your heart rate and your breathing rate. The main thing is to keep it enjoyable!