If you asked any group of people including doctors, physical therapist and most personal trainers which type of exercise is the best for burning unwanted body fat 99% would say cardiovascular training or cardio for short. Cardio training are exercises like jogging, running, bike riding, rowing and other repetitive movements you see people doing on pieces of fancy looking gym equipment. I have years of experience witnessing the lack of results people achieve doing cardio workouts for fat loss goals. I also have dozens of opinions through research and personal experience to back it up.
I have personally done cardio training in the past under strict conditions whilst keeping my calorie intake and non-cardio training frequency consistent. The cardio workouts I have tried and tested were training at 60% of my maximum heart rate, training at 80% of my maximum heart rate and interval training. All the cardio workouts lasted for at least 20 minutes. I need to emphasise that I gave each type of workout a chance by giving them ample time by doing them for months at a time rather than for weeks. I did this to see if I got any sort of response and waited to see if my body fat levels or body weight would change but it never did. In other words I spent years wasting my time and effort on different kinds of cardiovascular workouts when all I needed was strength training and quality nutrition rather than focus on calories and miles.
What does this tell you about cardio training for your goals? If someone with a calorie controlled and healthy diet exercising six times a week can’t achieve any kind of results with cardio workouts how do you think you will do?
Just to prove I was working hard enough all the cardio workouts I did always made me sweat giving me a false sense of security that something positive was happening to me. The interval training workouts were extremely challenging and always leaved me in a state of heavy and out of controlled breathing halfway through the workout till the end. But unfortunately for me I never saw any results for all the hard work I was putting in.
You have to ask yourself where the cardio myth originated and who perpetuated it. Cardio training is actually out of date science, it works to a degree in theory but when you study it carefully it is only marginally successful for weight and fat loss and for many of us can have a reverse effect on body fat levels.
Health clubs and gyms have helped to add fuel to the cardio myth for years and even decades. When you walk into any gym in the world all you will see are rows and rows of cardio training equipment neatly presented. These are there for the clubs benefit and not yours. They give an image that the gym has an answer to your goals and all you have to do is use them. If all they had were dumbbells, Swiss balls and other functional equipment on the gym floor no one would want to join the gym because they wouldn’t have a clue what to do with them. It is in the gyms best interest to encourage its members to use the cardio equipment because they are easy to use and they can spend as little time as possible on customer service. This works a treat for keeping gyms and health clubs overheads down with staffing and makes their job a lot easier. But it also has an advantage on a psychological level too, gyms know if their members spend their visit using cardio equipment they will feel like they have done something strenuous just like I used to feel after a cardio workout.
Maybe the fitness industry ended up like this because of pressure from the equipment manufacturers. The manufacturers could be behind the biggest fat loss myth in history. To name just a few different pieces of cardio kit like the treadmills, bikes and stairmaster they all have one thing in common, they all have moving parts and eventually need replacements giving the manufactures recurring revenue. The recurring revenue from barbells, weight plates and functional equipment is much more infrequent then that of cardio equipment. New and updated models of cardio equipment are released every year and the once new treadmill with the TV screen can very quickly look outdated a bit like used cars. No up and coming gym wants to show a potential member around their facilities with old-fashioned looking cardio equipment or equipment showing a lot of wear and tear. They want the latest brand new hi tech designs to give the impression they are more modern and more effective than their rivals.
I hope you can now see how this vicious circle will be hard to break and how the cardio myth gets perpetuated in the industry. In part 2 of this article I will compare the effectiveness of cardio training versus strength training for weight and fat loss goals.