What Burns More Fat
Days on the treadmill. Hours jogging. Night after night on the elliptical. Will these forms of cardio really get you to where you want to be with your body? One of the first ways people feel they can lose weight to is go to the gym and spend an hour on that treadmill or elliptical for an hour, or even more. This is one of the biggest myths about losing weight there is. Cardio can help you burn fat, when used effectively. However, when used improperly, it can actually make you lose muscle, slow down your metabolism, and make your weight loss hit a major plateau. Not what you want when you’re spending an hour on a machine expecting results!
Your body is amazing. It adapts to any kind of new stress that you put on it. Great, except when it starts to adapt to all the cardio. The more you do, the more efficient your body will become at it. That first day on the treadmill, you’ll probably struggle to get through the hour. But as weeks & months pass it will become easier than those initial days.
Well, you may say, good, right? That’s what you’re going for. To get into better shape & burn more calories. So what’s the catch? Remember how amazingly adaptable your body is? It will adapt to the cardio and become more efficient at it. Resulting in? Your body won’t need to use as many calories as it initially did to preform that cardio work out. Where does that leave you? Still doing an hour on the treadmill. Or elliptical. Or even jogging. But not burning as many calories as you think! Also, by becoming more efficient at cardio, your body will become smaller. Great? Well. Not so fast! This could also mean that you’re losing some body fat along with lean muscle mass.
You may ask, WHY that would be an issue? After all, you’re still burning calories and becoming “smaller”. However, having lean muscle mass is the absolute best weapon you will have in the weight loss process. Muscle tissue is very energy demanding, so it uses a lot of calories just to function. If you lose muscle you slow down the rate that your body uses calories. Cardio is great for weight loss, if used the correct way.
Wait! Don’t jump off that treadmill yet! You NEED cardio! Don’t abandon it, keep it in your exercise routine. Just add strength training. You’ve challenged yourself to walk more, run faster, farther. No challenge your muscles with strength training so they have a reason to keep the muscle you have!
Next, add interval training cardio. What, you ask? Basically, you are alternating periods of very high and low intensity. For example, if you are running a track you may sprint for 30 seconds followed by doing a walk for 90 seconds. You repeat this 6-8 times. This takes you way out of your comfort zone and makes your body have to recover afterwards. Recovery takes extra energy.
So, mix it up! Keep your cardio fun! Mix some interval training, same speed cardio and strength training. This is one of the best combinations for weight loss. And a lot less monotonous than day after day on the same treadmill. When exercise is NOT boring, you’re more likely to keep up with it!