Why cardio only workouts suck and what works
I’ve been saying this for years, but I’m sure I’ll have to keep pounding it in…
…Cardio-only workouts suck.
More than that, paying attention to how many calories you burn during a cardio workout is very, very deceptive and usually a huge waste of time.
I recently read the results of a study that came out of Australia (Br J Sports Med. 2009 Sep 29.) detailing how silly it is to perform a cardio only workout over the course of 12 weeks.
Actually that wasn’t their purpose, I just threw that in. Their purpose was to see whether “exercise-induced improvements in health are influenced by changes in bodyweight.”
What did the study find? The participants didn’t lose “what they were supposed to lose” according to their math. They had the sedentary, overweight/obese men and women burn 500 calories, 5 times per week by doing cardio. At that rate, they presumed the individuals would lose roughly 1 pound per week.
Why didn’t they reach that number? Because cardio only workouts are ineffective, inefficient and flat out don’t work – unless you decide you want to go run for hours at a time, which I highly doubt you have time for.
Their bodies adapted to the cardio quickly and the rate at which the body burns calories via cardio is very over-hyped and overrated, not to mention that most of the calorie counters on your average gym equipment is waaaaay off.
So what works? Resistance training…intense (relatively speaking) resistance training is the King, Queen and every other royal position, when it comes to the weight loss kingdom, while cardio is the peasant or at the very best a Duke if you’re talking about interval training.
Want a slice of proof?
A recent study (Energy expenditure during bench press and squat exercises. Robergs RA, et al; JSCR 2007 Feb; 21(1):123-30) showed that resistance training (using free weights, not machines) burned roughly 15 calories per minute.
That’s much higher than previously thought and the study used relatively low intensities (15 reps for big exercises like squats and bench press). Imagine what it would be if you increased the intensity to say 6-10 reps.
Then add that with the fact that your workout changes every few weeks so your body doesn’t get used to the stimulus and keeps burning a high number of calories in weeks 10, 12, 15, and beyond (whereas the cardio only workouts gradually decrease the number of calories burned)!
Then add to that the fact that your body’s resting metabolism is increased because it has to repair all that muscle you just broke down (that’s what happens when you perform resistance training) and you have an even higher calorie burning!
Then add to that the fact that you do it all over again the next day!
You have the perfect storm of calorie burning, weight loss and health benefits!
I should be singing to the choir on this because I’ve talked so much about this already, but it still needs to be said because when some of these cardio only studies show up in the news, the headline will say “Study Shows Exercise Doesn’t Work For Weight Loss”, or something to that effect when it’s far from being true.
Not only that, but you have tons and tons of magazines and books telling you that cardio is the way to go if you want to lose weight, when you’ve been shown time and again that it’s not.
So do yourself a favor and stop spending so much time doing cardio only workouts, stop paying attention to how many calories you burn while doing those cardio workouts and spend MORE time doing resistance training and you will lose weight.
One more thing, if your friend talks about how many calories they burned last night on the treadmill, don’t get caught up in their bragging – it doesn’t matter!
Have an awesome day!
P.S. – Don’t forget to leave your comments below. I’d love to know if you think I’m on the money, an idiot, or devilishly handsome…