Fitness and
exercise blog

Debunking the Cardio Myths Hindering Your Fitness Goals

Cardiovascular exercise is the key to burning calories and shedding unwanted pounds, right? This is what many people think about cardio, so it’s a big surprise when it doesn’t help them lose the weight they want. The reason is that numerous myths surround cardiovascular exercise and its fat-burning ability.

Although small amounts of cardio can be an effective weight loss tool, it’s not the only way to get in shape. So, before you put on a pair of sneakers and run until your legs fall off, read up on the cardio myths you should stop believing in to get on the right fitness track.

The 6 Cardio Myths Preventing You from Losing Weight

These common cardio misconceptions may be stopping you from achieving your fitness goals.

1) More Cardio Is the Key to Faster Weight Loss

There’s much more to weight loss than just cardio. Many people believe that logging hours on the treadmill or elliptical is a sure-fire way to lose weight. The more you do, the more pounds you shed, right? But strength training and diet play a major role too. If you spend your time only on cardiovascular exercise, it will burn away both fat and muscles. For a lasting change, you must integrate strength workouts into your routine and fine-tune your eating habits. Weight training not only burns more fat and builds lean muscle mass but also boosts your metabolism.

2) Cardio on an Empty Stomach Gives Better Results

The thought process behind so-called ‘fasted’ cardio, or doing cardio on an empty stomach, is that your body will use stored fat and carbohydrates to fuel your physical activity. This, in turn, helps in weight loss. However, according to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, ‘body composition changes associated with aerobic exercise in conjunction with a hypo-caloric diet are similar regardless of whether or not an individual has fasted prior to training’. Simply put, the effects of fasted and fed cardio will reap the same results. In fact, hours of intense cardio on an empty stomach may put you at risk of breaking down muscle tissue, a process called catabolism. That’s why many personal trainers suggest eating a small pre-workout meal before a cardio session to help you achieve better results.

3) Any Cardio Less Than an Hour Is a Waste

Wrong, wrong, wrong! The fact is that half an hour of cardio, whether you’re running, climbing stairs, jumping rope or cycling, also offers benefits in terms of calorie burn. If you aren’t able to dedicate an hour to a cardio session, several bouts of ten-minute workouts will do. The intensity of your workout counts too. For example, doing three 20-minute cardio sessions at a vigorous intensity is the equivalent of doing five 30-minute sessions at a moderate level.

Cardiovascular exercise

4) Cardio Is a Good Way to Cancel Out a Day of Eating in Excess

Although cardio is a good way to burn calories, it won’t cancel out a day of ditching your diet. To burn those extra calories, weightlifting is a better idea. Strength training uses many muscles, thus burning a lot of calories and increasing your muscle mass. So, if you had a day of not-so-healthy eating, heavy compound movements like deadlifts, squats, and push presses in the 8 to 12 repetition range will work. Plus, make sure you incorporate a lot of vegetables into your diet to stay on your fitness track.

5) The Body Only Burns Calories When You’re Doing Cardio

As mentioned, cardiovascular exercise burns fat, but that isn’t its only function. Cardio not only increases your lung capacity and boosts your feel-good endorphins but also lowers stress and helps you sleep better. Plus, it makes your heart strong so it doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood, reducing the risk of heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

6) Doing Cardio Means You Can Skip a Leg Strength Workout

If you’re not riding a bike to the point you can barely push the pedals or doing full-on sprints uphill, your leg muscles are not reaping the benefits that they do from a strength workout. So, thinking that running on the treadmill, utilizing the elliptical or cycling is a good reason to skip your leg strength workout is flawed. Strength training your lower body will aid in performing your method of cardio even better than before, thus helping you achieve your weight loss goals. So, make sure you don’t miss your lower body workout, no matter how much cardio you do.

Tips to Make the Most of Your Cardio Workout

Now that you can differentiate between the myths and facts about cardio, here are a few tips to make the most of your cardiovascular exercise.

  • Apart from burning calories through high-intensity movements, incorporate strength training into your workout to not only lose weight but also tone your muscles.
  • Mix bodyweight exercises between cardio sessions to break up a boring workout.
  • Resist the temptation to skip cardio sessions as you can’t get fit if you’re not disciplined.
  • Bring your heart rate back to normal after an intense workout as a proper cool down is necessary.
  • If you’re not sure whether you’re doing your cardio right, don’t be afraid to consult a professional. Your gym trainer or in-home personal trainer can guide you.

Cardio is an integral part of any fitness routine. It’s an effective way to burn calories, lose weight and increase lung capacity but won’t have a significant effect if your expectations are influenced by misconceptions. That’s why it’s important to know the facts about cardiovascular exercise to perform better, instead of believing myths. If you have questions about cardio, strength training or weight maintenance exercises, feel free to contact our experienced personal trainers.