Should you be doing cardio?
If you search the internet for weight loss recommendations, you’ll find the answer to be yes.
If you’re a female looking to burn body fat while scrolling social media, you’ll find the answer to be HELL YES.
Too often we resort to cardio to drive fat loss, but is it REALLY the best option?
Unfortunately, there are a lot of myths that cloud your judgment on whether or not cardio really IS right for you.
Let’s dive Into which myths we’re busting with our Complete Performance Team.
3 Myths Around Cardio for Fat Loss
The reason so many men and women believe cardio is necessary for fat loss is because there are a number of myths circulating about what cardio ACTUALLY does for us.
Let’s take a look at the top 3:
#1 – Cardio Burns Fat
This largely became popular with the creation of the “Fat Burning Zone.”
But you know what?
There is no zone wherein you suddenly switch to burning body fat.
Now, that’s not to say the Fat Burning Zone is a complete myth…
In fact, each individual has a zone wherein they use proportionally more fat as fuel; however, that does not contribute to fat or weight loss.
You see, the Fat Burning Zone was created to encourage the human body to draw energy from fat stores (as opposed to glycogen stores in the muscle or liver).
At higher intensities, your body burns more glycogen than fat.
In comparison, exercise at 50% of your heart rate max relies on nearly 60% fat and 40% glycogen as fuel.
Can this support fat loss?
But is it the same as burning the fat on your belly? Or underarms? Or butt?
#2 – Cardio Burns More Calories
Supporters of the Fat Burning Zone might concede to the difference between burning fat as fuel and the embarrassing fat around their midsection.
But many will die on the belief that cardio burns more calories when compared to resistance training.
Now, this isn’t a complete myth…
Cardio DOES burn more calories when compared to a session of resistance training for the same timeframe.
Supporters of this myth are missing a key piece of information!
Once a cardio session is done, so are the calories burned.
The repetitive movement of cardio limits the muscles, joints and tissues used during training; therefore, there’s minimal repair required meaning few calories are burned following a session.
In contrast, the variety of resistance training breaks down muscle tissue and creates inflammation in joints and tissues. This requires repair following training sessions, and THAT is where A LOT of calories are burned.
So, does cardio burn more calories DURING a session?
Does it burn more calories overall when compared to resistance training?
#3 – Cardio Is for Females
There’s not much to say about this one…
Since we’ve established that cardio is NOT for burning body fat, it’s safe to say it is NOT just for females.
This largely came about when women were labeled as delicate, soft and dainty.
Many women fell into this belief because it was said they’d become large, bulky or too muscular if they took part in resistance training.
Guess what ladies?
You’re not going to get bulky if you follow a resistance training program.
You don’t get a pass on cardio either 😉
Why You NEED Cardio
While cardio might not be necessary for fat loss, you DO need cardio (males and females).
#1 – Cardiovascular Health
Is it really that surprising?
That the #1 reason you NEED cardio is to improve your cardiovascular health?
But the problem is that for far too long cardio has been pushed as a means for fat loss, when its true purpose is actually to improve cardiovascular health.
How can improving your cardiovascular health benefit you?
Check it out!
#2 – Recovery
Cardio has a number of health benefits, but can also improve your recovery.
Let’s be honest, resistance training can be tough on the body…
It can leave you with sore and stiff muscles – ones that need recovery.
Cardio is a great way to improve your recovery!
But, that cardio SHOULD NOT be intense.
You’ll primarily want it to be low intensity steady state (LISS) cardio.
Aim for 20 or more minutes of low intensity cardio, wherein you are able to maintain a conversation throughout the session.
#3 – Stress Relief
Exercise is a GREAT form of stress relief, especially cardio.
The repetitive nature provides feelings of calm, produces endorphins and improves sleep.
A number of research studies have been published demonstrating the benefits of cardiovascular activity during periods of high anxiety and stress.
There is a balance…
Too much cardio and you’ll negate the stress relieving benefits.
So the question remains…
Should you be doing cardio?
Yes, but not for the reasons you might think.
Use it to improve your cardiovascular health, recover or relieve stress, but NOT for fat loss.