Cardio Exercise is Critical to Fat Loss!

Posted October 7, 2010 by

I’m going to be very straight forward here: diet alone will not get you the ultimate body of your dreams. If you want a lean, toned, sexy body you absolutely need to incorporate both resistance training and cardio into your health regimen. I’ll save the resistance training discussion for another article, but for today I want to focus on the function of cardio training and why it is foundational to an optimal fat-loss program.

Beyond aiding in fat-loss, regular cardio training helps prevent a variety of diseases including heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. In addition to these health benefits you can also expect to have more energy, higher endurance, less stress, better sleep, and of course you’ll burn more calories per day and have an easier time controlling your weight.

In a previous article series I laid out the differences between “weight loss” and “fat loss,” and how to target fat loss over general weight loss. Specifically, I identified that the metabolism is the key factor in fat loss and the goal is to maximize your metabolism to optimize your fat loss efforts. Cardio is by a large margin the most important method for ramping up your metabolism, which explains why it is so critical to fat loss.

So what exactly constitutes “cardio” training? According to the American College of Sports Medicine, cardio is any activity that uses large muscle groups in a continuous, rhythmic fashion for sustained periods of time. This means things like running, walking, aerobics, jazzercise, cycling, swimming, skiing, and rowing, as well as all of the cardio machines at the gym of course, such as the stair-master, treadmill, exercise bike, elliptical machine, etc.

If you’re just starting out with your new fitness program and aren’t used to working out, you should gradually increase your cardio efforts to avoid overtraining. The best way to measure your intensity during cardio training is to monitor your heart rate. This can be a bit tricky to do if you resort to the “wrist and stopwatch” method, but luckily most cardio machines have handles you can grab that will give you a pretty accurate estimate of your heart rate. You’ll want to keep your heart rate at around 65-75% of your maximum for the first 3-4 months of training. To determine your maximum heart rate, simply subtract your age from 220. So, if you’re a 34 year old woman, you would subtract 34 from 220 which means your maximum heart rate is around 186 bpm (beats per minute).

You’d want to keep your heart rate between 65% and 75% of the 186 bpm maximum during your workout, which works out to a 120-140 bpm target range. In other words, work up to a 120 bmp heart rate and then do not let it drop below 120 or go over 140 for the remainder of the session, till your cool-down. Perform between 30 and 60 minutes of cardio at this level up to 6 times per week for optimal results.

It is important to note that recreational sports do NOT typically cover the cardio training requirements for fat loss (although they are adequate for general health concerns). Even if you play basketball, squash or some other sport casually, you should make sure you are including specific cardio training during each week as well in order to stimulate your metabolism as much as possible.

What this all boils down to is, even if you’re doing weight training, playing sports recreationally and eating healthy, if you aren’t performing specific cardio exercise, you simply aren’t going to be losing body fat efficiently! So get in the gym or to a bootcamp and get your body moving!

Comments on Cardio Exercise is Critical to Fat Loss! ยป

  1. 600 carbs a day MINIMUM. 30 bananas a day is aporpx 600carbs a day. I load up on the sugary fruits/juices of whatever I fancy that meal. Its usually bananas and dates. Thats why Im leaner then TMW yet I NEVER have to fast or go on some crazy cutting’ diet. Im just cut all? year long. You can tell it in my face if you watch my vids. Not say’n Im better than anyone. Just say’n.