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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cardio Not Good for Fat Loss or Health - You Really Should Back Off

This didn't come from hours of cardio!
As you're likely aware of, the popular notion amongst most people is that they need to do more cardio if they want to lose fat, be healthy and live longer.  Well, the reality is, exactly the opposite is true!

If you want to lose fat and be toned you need to heavily reduce your long slow cardio exercise and instead do short intense bursts along with weight training (making sure you use heavy enough weights).  If you are using a weight that you can do endless repetitions with, you are wasting your time.   

Doing 20 plus reps with a light weight DOES NOT MAKE YOU TONE UP.

Here's an example from one of the first studies back in 1994, which compared interval to aerobic training.  You may be quite shocked by the results.

Who looks healthier?
The study found that the interval program participants lost 9 times more body fat than aerobic training people! What's even more telling is that the aerobic program lasted 5 weeks longer than the interval program and still couldn't come close to the results from the interval program. The aerobic program burned more than 2 times the number of calories, but they still lost 9 times less fat.  Note to self, stop worrying about how many calories the machine says you burned because it's basically irrelevant.

The reason that the intervals produced greater fat loss in less time is that they increased the amount of calories burned from fat during the recovery period. Researchers found that the interval group experienced changes in how their body’s used fat for fuel, resulting in fat loss.

What also happens is that the intense interval training causes your body to release hormones that increase fat burning and muscle development. The best body composition results come from doing intervals similar to what I mentioned yesterday...but you can't pace must push hard...

Here's Day 2 of the 10 Day Christmas Cutdown...5 minutes and you're done!

Beyond the fat loss concern, it's also known that doing a large amount of cardio is actually detrimental to your health and longevity.  Note to all you cardio junkies out there, the mounting evidence clearly shows that if you want to damage your heart, age faster and die sooner then just keep running miles and miles a week and never touch a weight. 

In fact, last month according to the Wall Street Journal, research to be published this month in the

British journal, "Heart", says:
Running 20-25 miles or more per week eliminates the benefit of exercise as you grow older and causes excessive wear-and-tear on the heart.

This has nothing to do with fitness.
I don't know about you, but this certainly doesn't make me want to start training for a marathon any time soon.  I myself do not do any aerobic training on any machine and have not run 20-25 miles in probably the last 5 years combined and I'm toned and can see my abs because I lift appropriate weights and do very intense interval work.  And as another note, I normally work out way less than 4 hours a week.  FYI, even though I'm not a runner I did a half marathon several years back and the most I ever ran at once prior to this was 9 miles, and that was only 1 time!  Yet I still finished in less than 2 hours...if you have strong muscle from lifting weights it makes a huge difference.

Doing large amounts of cardio increases risk of heart dysfunction, and low resistance high rep weight training compromises body composition by reducing muscle mass and having no effect on fat loss. Still not buying it?  Lets see what a Mayo Clinic review has to say...

...a high volume of endurance exercise from running, rowing, swimming, or cycling increases the thickness of the left ventricle, leading to a reduction in right ventricular function.  These changes aren’t benign and the heart doesn't go back to normal after stopping this excessive training.

The effects of impaired cardiac function include the following:

  • Evidence of myocardial injury, In a group of endurance athletes, myocardial scarring was found in 12.5  percent, and the scarring was more common in those who had been training for the longest period of time.
  • Increased risk of atrial fibrillation and arrhythmia due to scarring, fibrosis, and increased aortic stiffness. Blood pressure dysfunction and aortic stiffness were much higher in one study of marathoners than controls.
  • Greater evidence of calcified plaque buildup in the coronary arteries from endurance exercise, putting athletes at greater risk for atherosclerosis.
Over and over again other studies have shown that endurance exercise, particularly swimming and cycling that are not weight bearing activities, lead to bone loss in the long term. In fact, recent studies have found very low bone mass in elite cyclists. In addition, in the absence of weight training, long-term endurance training can lead to loss of muscle mass, compromising performance and health. 

You Choose...

Keep what the father of 'aerobics' Dr. Kenneth Cooper, has said, in mind, "If you are running more than 15 miles a week, you are doing it for some reason other than health."

As a side might want to be careful if you go to a fitness facility or talk to a trainer and they recommend a whole lot of cardio to lose fat and get healthy...chances are they are uninformed and way behind the times...

Tremblay, A., Simoneau, J., et al. Impact of Exercise Intensity on Body Fatness and Skeletal Muscle Metabolism. Metabolism. 1994. 43(7), 814-818.

Heydari, M., Freud, J., et al. The Effect of High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise on Body Composition of Overweight Young Males. Journal of Obesity. 2012. Published Ahead of Print. 

O’Keefe, J., et al. Potential Adverse Cardiovascular Effects from Excessive Endurance Exercise. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. June 2012. 87(6), 587-595.

Conti, V., et al. Aerobic Training Workload Affects Human Endothelial Cells Redox Homeostasis. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 2012. Published Ahead of Print.

1 comment:

Minerva Dobrev said...

To most people it is good for weight loss. I do cardio work for 3 days a week to get some natural belly fat reduction. But there is always a better remedy if it doesn't work.

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