If you’ve been doing a ton of cardio but you’re not losing any weight.
Or if you’re planning to start incorporating a lot more cardio to lose some extra body fat. Then make sure you read this article till the very end!
Even though cardio can be very beneficial if done correctly.
Most of the people that you see at the gym spending countless hours on the treadmill, elliptical and stair climber are doing it completely wrong.
Many of them look the same week after week and month after month because without even knowing it they’re setting themselves back further rather than making progress with their weight and especially their body composition.
I’ll go over the biggest cardio mistakes that cause you to waste your time and can even make you fatter rather than leaner.
After I go over the five mistakes I’ll give you the five best ways to incorporate cardio into your routine the right way.
1) The biggest cardio mistake believing that more cardio equals more fat loss:-
I know it might sound unbelievable that too much cardio can hurt your weight loss efforts more than it can help.
But I assure you this is true.
So how does too much cardio lead to less fat loss?
Well first of all due to the low-intensity high volume nature of steady-state cardio our bodies will perceive long-duration steady-state cardio as a prolonged stressor. if you do too much cardio it causes your body to release hormones that are bad for fat loss like – Cortisol.
Cortisol can make your body store more fat instead of burning it, as you increase the time which you spend doing cardio per week cortisol levels rise significantly.
now people that are big supporters are prolonged cardio sessions countered this by saying that, overtraining with “any kind of exercise” can lead to higher cortisol levels.
This is true. but, these elevated levels in endurance athletes much more than in strength training athletes.
When cortisol increases your cells become resistant to insulin.
you experience more inflammation throughout your body and you’ll also feel hungrier because of the effect that cortisol has on your hunger regulating hormones like- ghrelin and leptin.
A change in your appetite will likely negative the effect your body fat percentage much more than your cardio sessions will positively affect it.
By doing too much cardio you’ll find yourself hungrier. Not only directly after your cardio sessions but also long after you’re done
And unfortunately unlike weight training, cardio doesn’t continue burning calories hours after you’re done.
If you overdo it you will feel really hungry. not only you will eat so much that you negate the calories burnt from your workout.
but you can even eat more calories than you ever lost from your workout, to begin with causing you to store more body fat.
Extreme endurance workouts over long periods = lower the production of testosterone.
another thing to consider is that, as you do more and more cardio your body will adapt more and more.
Your muscles, lungs and heart will all become more efficient at handling the cardio workout and you’ll burn less and fewer calories from the same workout as you do more cardio.
Now, most people that do cardio will notice that they’re seeing smaller and smaller changes to their body from the cardio sessions.
So their solution is to incorporate more cardio whether it be longer sessions or more frequent sessions throughout the week.
this leads to overtraining as well as overuse injuries especially around your ankle knee and hip joints.
If you sustained an injury to even one of those joints you won’t be able to work your whole lower body.
significantly decreasing the number of calories you burn throughout the week.
“So, more cardio is not more fat loss”
The second major mistake I see people making with cardio is thinking that cardio is the best way to lose fat.
I hope that most of the people reading this article know that your diet is the number one way to effectively lose fat.
so many people believe that just because they go on a long run or bike ride every day they can get away with not paying as much attention to what they’re eating.
Well, not only will too much cardio increase your appetite. but, if you couple that with allowing yourself to eat in a more unrestrained way you’re gonna negate all that hard work.
Instead of creating a situation where you eat less and move more, you’re eating more and moving more which doesn’t exactly produce the same results. Remember, what you eat and how much you eat always comes first.
If your diet sucks, cardio will not help you burn fat. and if you notice that cardio significantly increases your appetite you might be far better off just skipping cardio altogether and simply start eating less.
3) Not incorporating strength training sessions:
Now let me make this clear, for ideal body composition with plenty of fat-free lean body mas, you don’t need to do any cardio at all.
But if you’re doing a lot of cardio you have to incorporate strength training.
The reason is that long-duration cardio is “notorious” for creating body compositions with less muscle mass.
you don’t have to look further than your average marathon runner to see this.
If you’re doing cardio without supplementing with a strength training program, your body will do the smart thing and rid itself of all that useless excess metabolically expensive muscle mass.
This is because that muscle will reduce running efficiency. After all, it’s heavy and it costs your body extra calories to maintain.
Even while at rest your body wants to save all the calories it can.
especially if those calories are constantly being used during your long duration cardio sessions by incorporating a couple of days of strength training per week.
you can promote muscle growth rather than muscle loss and at the very least you’ll be giving your body a reason to keep more muscle around.
4) Stick to one form of cardio over and over:
Most people will always stick to one form of cardio over and over. they never switch it up.
like I said earlier, your body will look for ways to become more efficient with any kind of activity you consistently engage in.
Now, this becomes especially true when you constantly do the same form of cardio.
one of the main ways it does this is by decreasing overall energy output which means you’ll be burning fewer and fewer calories to do the same activity.
let’s take jogging, for example, your muscles in your legs, as well as your whole cardiovascular system, will become more efficient at handling the endurance required for long-duration steady-state running.
we’ve already touched on this earlier when I said that cardio bides by the law of diminishing returns just by changing up your cardio workout from jogging to stair climbing or swimming.
for example, you’ll be engaging different muscles in a different way allowing you to burn more calories once again just like repeating the same weight training workout again and again will provide fewer and fewer returns doing the same form of cardio over and over again has the same effect switch it up.
5) try to hit their target heart rate zone:
The target heart rate zone is roughly somewhere between 55 and 75% of your maximum heart rate.
it used to be thought of as the fat-burning zone it has long since been proven to be a myth.
but this myth continues to be widespread and most people still believe in it.
there’s a huge gym franchise that I will not mention the name of but this gyms whole model is built around this myth of getting into your fat-burning zone on top of that.
almost every treadmill has a target heart rate chart on it and has metal sensors designed to read your heart rate in the middle of your run.
“The idea is that when you’re in this zone you burn more of a percentage of calories from fat rather than carbohydrates in the form of stored glycogen”.
it might even be true however this theory doesn’t take into account that more intense exercise above 70% of your maximum heart rate burns significantly more overall calories.