What if I told you that cardio is one of the least effective ways to lose fat.
Cardio is probably the standard activity anybody losing fat is going to think they must endure to achieve their dream body. The thing is besides having your nutrition on point (which is the most effective way of making sure you lose fat) cardio is not the best tool to achieve optimal fat loss.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with cardio, you should still do it. It’s great for the health of your heart and general longevity of your life. But if your current goal is really centered around losing fat then you must understand that lifting weights using heavy, compound, multi-joint movements is by far, superior.
Cardio will burn calories during the duration of exercise, if you run 5 km you will burn around 300 calories. So in many ways cardio can be effective as a way of fat loss purely because it is simplistic in the way it works and how easy it is to perform. You put on your running shoes and you go run, while you run you burn calories, that’s it.
Some people enjoy this, but for the vast majority cardio is boring and repetitive.
The issue that I have with cardio in terms of its efficiency is that it does very little to maintain an elevated metabolism throughout periods of rest.
The difference between weight lifting and cardio is the resting metabolic increase. The more muscle you have on your frame allows you to burn more muscle simply by doing nothing. Let’s take myself right now as I am typing this. If I were to magically gain 10 pounds of muscle theoretically I would be burning more calories.
The more muscle you gain the greater your resting metabolic rate will be. Logically it doesn’t make sense to make gaining muscle a priority in your arsenal of tools, if your goal is primarily fat loss.
My philosophy on fitness is long term sustainability. Cardio should always be included for heart health, but in terms of body composition weight lifting is the most sustainable option.
Muscle isn’t forever, you can lose it through atrophy. However g generally once you have gained lean muscle mass it doesn’t take too much effort to maintain. If muscle mass is correlated with an elevated metabolic rate and thus a greater efficiency to metabolize fat cells then adding muscle is a long term ‘solution’ to unwanted body fat.
Why do you think females have more body fat than men? Because they have less testosterone, more testosterone equals more muscle which provides males with a resting metabolic rate, on average, significantly higher than females.
I hope you see where i’m coming from with this. Also it must be noted that your nutrition outweighs everything i just said in regards to manipulating and controlling your body composition, let me repeat that, over everything your caloric intake is the most important, however if you are on point and understand macronutrients and calories then your next focus should revolve around weight lifting.
Anabolism and catabolism are hormones which harbor different environments in human body, partly responsible for body composition. Anabolism harvests growth and progression, catabolism harvests degeneration.
To build muscle you need to have a greater ratio of progression over degeneration (Anabolism > Catabolism)
Now let me be clear, catabolism is not necessarily bad. You need catabolism for anabolism to even exist. However we are discussing how to optimally burn fat. By lifting weights you are promoting an anabolic environment. Cortisol is released during long duration of cardio is a hormone which is responsible for loss of lean mass and accumulation of fat in the stomach region.
To avoid controversy; I am not claiming that going for a run will atrophy your muscle. What I am saying is that if you want to get better at cardio, do more cardio, but if you want to lose more fat, lift more weights.
If your weight training and nutrition are on point and you have been dieting for a while then this is an appropriate time to add in extra cardio if necessary.
At the end of the day the most important thing is sustainability.
It is important to understand that in order to truly be successfully and live a lifestyle that revolves around progression over degeneration you must do what you enjoy.
We are all different. Of course, any exercise is better than none; as long as your nutrition is on point this will generally determine whether you lose fat.
I think you need to just do what you enjoy – otherwise it becomes very hard to stick with it.
Here’s a video discussing how to remain consistent with your diet and programming.