Another day, another rant.
This one goes out to all of the zombies that pound themselves on the treadmill day in and day out. Do you find yourself in the gym maybe 3 or more days a week, running for an hour then going home to stare at yourself in the mirror wondering why you’ve lost bugger all body fat since you started training months ago?
Or perhaps you do the odd bit of cardio and see the same people training alongside you never looking like they’ve made any fat-loss progress in about ten years.
No I’m not talking out my arse
Besides the fact that there are real-world results out there that support this point of view, there has been a study conducted at the end of last year concerning normal weight men and women and how they overestimate exercise energy expenditure(1) (thanks Martin for the heads up).
This basically means that average Joe is grossly miscalculating their dietary requirements believing that a sh*tload of cardio will, in the long run, burn off those calories we ingest day in and day out.
“If i eat this burger and fries, Ill just run for an hour on the treadmill, and i won’t put on any weight!”
WRONG. Cardio just doesn’t cut it in terms of fat oxidation nor overall energy expenditure. Not only that, to burn off that McHappy meal, you’re gonna have to run for a sh*t-load longer than 1 hour a day. Don’t get me wrong here, the positive effects of cardio on the cardiovascular system are well documented, there are just better ways to lose fat if that is in fact your aim.
Will countless hours of cardio on the treadmill help lose fat?
There are just so many better ways to attack the ‘fat-loss’ problem. Without harping on (as you’ve probably read this before), what you’re shovelling into your pie-hole is what’s going to change your physique, not the countless hours running on a treadmill.
I would go so far as to say it’s probably 80% of the equation.
If I was stuck in a cardio rutt, this is what I’d do to get out of it.
- Start training with weights. No you won’t get huge over night, but yes the fat burning effects of heavy lifting have also been well documented(2).
- Add intermittent fasting into the mix. Try either Eat Stop Eat or the leangains approach. If you’re trying to lose stubborn body fat that just won’t seem to shift. Take a squizz at this article.
- Reduce the amount of cardio you do. Unless you’re training for a cardio-specific event such as the 800 metres at the Olympics, it just isn’t necessary to pound yourself on the treadmill day in and day out.
- Get your diet in order. This is THE most important part.
Clint’s Note: Own up — Who can’t help themselves doing more cardio than they need to? Comment below.
1 – ‘Normal weight men and women overestimate exercise energy expenditure’ – J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2010 Dec;50(4):377-84
2 – Abid, M. et al. (2009). Physical training combined with dietary measures in the treatment of adult obesity. A comparison of two protocols. Ann Phys Rehabil Med. Jun;52(5):394-413