My Reluctance to Do 'Cardio'
During the time I was overweight, I was actually exercising regularly -like 3-4 times a week regularly. No lie!
Unfortunately, I wasn’t exercising in the most efficient way, and my diet was definitely not on point.
How was I exercising, you ask?
I have lived across three continents, and I have joined gyms wherever I have lived.
For those of you who have never joined a gym, the typical sign up procedure goes something like this.
Step 1: You do a tour of the gym and they outline some of the basic rules.
Step 2: You fill in the application form, give your bank details for the monthly direct debit, and sign their legal disclaimer.
Step 3: The ‘fitness professional’ checks your body fat percentage and height to determine your ideal weight range, and if your goal is weight loss, he/she puts you on one of their cardio-intensive workout programs.
Despite your weight loss goal, the ‘fitness professional’ will more times than not NEVER mention a word about the importance of changing your nutrition and overall lifestyle, or how to do it.
Step 4: The ‘fitness professional’ then finalises the process of setting you up for failure and injury.
I can see the raised eyebrows. Don’t worry. I get that a lot.
Let me explain.
During the tour of the gym, most people are very impressed with what they see.
They envision themselves burning away all that unsightly belly fat on those impressive-looking treadmills, stationary bicycles, stair machines, and elliptical machines.
Unfortunately, most gyms are packed to the rafters with them.
To the untrained eye, those machines seem extremely impressive, and 9 times out of 10, the gym’s ‘fitness professional’ will immediately point you in their direction.
Once you get on one of those machines it completes your orientation into the matrix of failed fitness and often time injury.
There are far more effective ways to burn fat and build lean sexy muscle, and in a lot less time.
When I was overweight and still in the darkness, I did long boring cardio on those machines religiously.
Like most people, I never looked forward to my workouts, I was bored senseless, and my growing frustration and waistline not only depressed me, but also annoyed me.
What am I doing wrong?
Why am I not getting results?
These are the thoughts that go through the minds of most people who work out.
An unfortunate truth is that most people who work out, do not have the physiques to match their efforts.
Most people who do long boring cardio on those machines simply do it because this is what they were taught to do by their entrusted ‘fitness professional’.
If someone had put them on the correct path from the start just imagine how happier they would be if they were getting results.
Please don’t misinterpret my thoughts. There are benefits to doing cardio.
Elevating your heart rate through cardio vascular exercise is important. It improves the amount of oxygen in your blood and releases those feel good endorphins.
It helps your heart to pump blood more efficiently, activates your immune system, and increases your stamina over time. There is however a cap to these benefits, and if you make your cardio sessions too long they can actually prevent you from losing weight and harm your health.
By the time the average person who does conventional cardio elevates their heart rate to the point where they can start to burn fat, they are usually approaching the end of their workout.
As I sat in the living room of a new client whose goal was to lose weight and build lean muscle, I asked him what he had been doing for exercise. He told me that he had been regularly jogging, and based on what his smartphone app had told him, he had clocked up around 12,000 miles in the last two years. That’s the equivalent of running from London to Beijing and back again, and still having 2,000 miles to go.
So how much weight did he lose? Nothing. He was actually gaining weight during this time.
Here Are The Facts
Conventional Cardio Makes You Actually Gain Belly Fat
Pounding away on a treadmill for 30 minutes to an hour sends your body a powerful signal to start storing fat instead of burning it due to the stress you put on your body.
Never underestimate the power of those compounds called hormones produced in various glands that make up our endocrine system.
Research shows that the hormone produced in the thyroid gland, commonly called T3 (triiodothyronine), which helps to boost our metabolism and burn fat is at a diminished level in people who perform long intense cardio. The stress from long intense cardio supresses this fat burning hormone, and causes our bodies to hold on to fat.
The stress from long intense cardio also has a negative effect on the body’s ability to burn fat, because it also encourages the over production of the stress hormone, cortisol, which is produced in the adrenal glands.
Cortisol takes fat from healthier areas like your buttocks and hips and moves it to your abdomen, which has more cortisol receptors.
Cortisol turns healthy peripheral fat (the fat just under the skin) into unhealthy visceral fat (the fat in your abdomen that surrounds your organs).
Too Much Cardio Can Negatively Affect Your Health and Cause Injury
In many people’s eyes, elite marathon runners are considered to be in the upper echelons of athleticism. They are praised for their stamina and endurance.
Running 26.2 miles nonstop in just over 2 hours is no small feat.
However, studies have shown that many marathon runners have heart muscle scarring and some structural changes to their hearts.
Warning! - Excessive cardio overworks your heart and can lead to death due to a heart attack.
How many times have we seen seemingly healthy marathon runners in the prime of their lives die during or after running a marathon?
In addition to damaging your heart, a common ailment of people who run on treadmills or outside is severe pain from damaged joints due to the enormous amount of pressure from their body weight.
You are literally putting around 3 times your body weight on your joints every time your foot makes contact with the treadmill or road.
Over time the constant pounding destroys the cartilage in your joints, giving you immense pain in your knees, hips, ankles, feet, and back.
I have always hated jogging because no matter how I adjusted my landing, I always had shin splints.
Remember that client I was telling you about earlier? He too suffers with back and joint problems.
As you get older, do you want to spend your time suffering with tendinitis, arthritis, and inflammation?
I know I don’t.
And let’s not forget the exorbitant cost of orthopaedic surgery if you do suffer injury and have to go under the knife.
Conventional Cardio Can Cause You to Overeat
A common complaint by many who do long boring cardio is that they have ravenous appetites after completing their workouts.
Many tend to overeat, which often times causes them to consume more calories than they had burned during their workout.
Conventional Cardio Doesn’t
Maximise Your Full Calorie Burning Potential
Another disadvantage to long boring cardio is that your body stops burning calories the second you finish your workout.
There are more time-efficient ways to work out that can keep your metabolism elevated for up to 48 hours and yield far more impressive results.
And even if you are not doing long intense cardio, but instead having a leisurely stroll on a treadmill or ride on a stationary bicycle, you are not elevating your heart rate enough to maximise your body’s fat burning potential.
Any exercise that can be done while reading a magazine or watching TV is not worth doing in my opinion.
I haven’t used one of those machines in years, and now that I know better, I never will.
When I occasionally go to the gym, I still see the usual suspects who were doing long boring cardio right alongside me.
Their physiques haven’t changed in all these years despite them spending far more time exercising than I do.
They have seen me stop using those machines, go from being overweight to ripped, but they are still not convinced that there are better ways to exercise.
Because most people are not open to new ideas, it is hard to convince them that using boring cardio machines is for the most part a waste of time.
Their physiques is a testament to this fact, yet they continue to prove Einstein’s theory that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
I too was ‘insane’ for a while, but being someone who is results oriented, I had no choice but to research better ways of exercising.
Shouldn't your physique match your efforts?