How Much Cardio is Too Much?
Too many people get so gung ho about about their cardio, fitness and getting into shape that they simply overdo it. They go to the gym for an hour and a half every day and practically train themselves to death, be it running on a treadmill, skiing on an elliptical trainer or in a spinning class!
Or maybe they’ll even fit in two aerobics sessions in just one day, under the assumption that they are burning as much fat as possible. And by the end of that day, they are feeling so great that they’ve done all this running or jumping around in those couple of hours of cardio, and have had a really good ‘sweat‘.
They feel an overwhelming happiness that they have done all that work, and are losing weight and getting their bodies in amazing physical shape, right?
Well, maybe not.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting down any kind of physical exercise. Far from it. Any amount of cardio exercise is better for fat loss, than being a couch potato.
Increasing your heart rate on a treadmill, stationary bike or on the aerobics floor for a couple hours per day will certainly improve your cardiovascular system.
But is it really accomplishing your weight loss goals?
But, what are your goals? If it is to be capable of running on a treadmill for an hour or doing aerobics for 2 hours per day, then go for it. But is this achieving your goal of losing fat as quickly as you can?
The Principle of Specificity is an exercise term that means ‘doing it will make you better at it’. If you want to be good at riding a bike over long distances, practice biking long distances. If you want to be good at running long distances, practice running long distances.
But what do most people really want to accomplish?
They want to lose body fat, tone up their body, maybe add a little muscle mass, and to generally look good in a swim suit. Agreed? So does all that aerobic exercise really work to make you a fat burning machine, or is too much cardio a bad idea if your focus is fat loss?
Yes, it is definitely not the best way to lose fat and achieve a toned and lean look. Let me repeat that.
All your hard work and efforts of running for hours on the treadmill, or jumping, skipping and hopping around in the aerobics class is in vein.
Because when you do too much cardio, your body starts to burn your muscles (glycogen), using them as ‘fuel’ after about 45 minutes. After this threshold, it starts to burn it off and break it down by using it for energy.
What does this mean for you? It means that you are not burning fat, but instead you are burning off and losing muscle. Which is what you do not want, I presume.
Too Much Cardio is Bad For You!
IMPORTANT: Please remember that we are specifically referring to cardio and weight loss. NOT how cardio affects your overall health. Of course cardiovascular exercise is good for your heart system, when referring to your general well-being.
So over a period of time training in this way, you end up with less muscle, your metabolism slows right down, and then you have to eat even less just to maintain your current weight or your body will start storing fat instead of burning it off.
Technically, you could then be doing too much cardio and gaining weight.
Walking is ok. You can walk as much as you want. It will burn calories without pushing your muscles so much that they begin to burn themselves up for energy.
However, an increased intensity cardio routine will eventually begin to burn up muscle after a period of time. We’re talking about the hours you’ve probably spent on the treadmill or elliptical trainer, just like I did years ago, thinking you’re burning thousands of calories!!. But there is something fundamentally wrong with walking when it comes to weight loss.
Walking does not burn enough calories to make a huge difference. You would have to walk around ten miles a day (I am not kidding here) to make up for a poor diet and bad nutrition.
What is the Best Thing to Do Then?
Well, I have put this formula together for you to take away with you.
Build More Muscle + Short Intense Cardio for Heart Health + Proper Rest + Good Diet = Fat Loss
I promise you this. If you stick to the ‘QBX Formula’ for fat loss, you will lose the fat, you will build lean muscle and you will look great in a relatively short period of time.
This is how it works.
The more muscle mass your body has, the more calories your body burns per pound as you exercise.
So the more muscle mass your body has, the more your body will burn up its fat store, all by itself.
And not forgetting (of course), that the more lean muscle you have, the more toned and shapely your body will look. No matter if you are a woman or a man. And no matter if you want a normal looking physique or a bigger bodybuilder type look.
A skinny body with not much fat and no muscle tone just looks sickly. That is why you need to gain lean muscle, because it makes you look toned and healthy.
How Much Cardio is the Right Amount
You should perform brief, progressive resistance and HIIT cardio workouts, spread out over the course of a week. This should take you a minimum of 120 minutes or so per week which is great if you are very busy and highly organized. Break it down into 20 to 30 minutes per day.
Twenty to thirty minutes per day is all you need per day, in comparison with one and a half hours of hammering it out on a treadmill.
To find out more, please read my article titled What is the best cardio for fat loss. You will find a lot of ideas on that page, and you will understand a bit more about why too much cardio is bad for you (don’t forget, we are referring to weight loss, not overall health). There is a lot of the science behind this in that article, plus what you should be doing to lose weight.
But if you want to know a little about that right now, just keep reading!
What Kind of Exercises Should You Do to Lose Those ‘Love Handles’?
This is no joke.
The problem that most people have, is the fat that accumulates in this area and is the hardest to shed. So, to lose your love handles, lets talk a little about the best types of exercise or exercise machines to use.
Are you a member of the local gym, or are you a home fitness fanatic and working hard on a stair stepper or a spinning bike? That would cover around 85% of people I guess, who are currently losing or trying to lose weight. If you are working out a gym, then you have all the equipment you need. And if you are at home, you have several options. You could either invest in a stair stepper or elliptical trainer, or you could simply perform bodyweight exercises. The latter is obviously cheaper, and which is becoming hugely popular (just click on the ‘Insanity’ image on the right of this page, and you will see why).
Providing you are doing HIIT or boot-camp style training, it matter too much. You will lose love handles relatively quickly, if you follow our formula above. Resistance training is best, combined with bodyweight movements using interval training. Resistance training is done with dumbbells and barbells, and some weights machines.
Or, and I do recommend doing what I do with my partner, Rachelle. We use a combination of weight training exercises, using dumbbells and barbells, body weight and plyometrics exercises, together with resistance band work.
(Sorry about my toes in the photo!)
Resistance bands offer almost a totally different workout to using dumbbells. And they are a wonderful idea, because you don’t have to worry about dropping a dumbbell on your pinky toe, and if you buy a good set like the ones we use – there is no risk of them snapping and you can you can stack these one on top of the other to add resistance. They are perfect for men and women to.
I don’t know how much money you have to spend on cardio equipment or gym membership, all I can do is assume you are either working out in the gym or getting it on at home. And if you are working out in your garage, in your spare room or on your patio, there is nothing better for burning a ton of calories and getting your sweat on, than hammering out a twenty minute workout with the bands! The bodylastics bands come with a DVD which you can follow along. There are about five or six different programs which suit most people.
Resistance bands are cheap to buy, they are incredibly versatile and work every muscle in your body from your shoulders and trapezius, chest, back, arms, buttocks, thighs and even your calf muscles. Working out with these bands is a sure way to lose your love handles. You will not regret getting them because you can take them anywhere you go if you are travelling and the best thing is, that you don’t have any excuses to use to say ‘I haven’t got any equipment’, ‘I don’t know what to do’!
The bands tuck away nicely in any small bag, and you have several cardio, resistance and abdominal exercise programs you can follow on the DVD.
Ok, we kind of strayed off the title of this article, but I just wanted to give you some idea of what you can do instead of pounding a treadmill for a few hours a week, where you literally could be gaining fat! But, now you know what you can do at home or in the gym, which won’t be too much cardio to allow you to shed a ton of weight.
Good luck my friend, and thank you for reading. I truly appreciate your time here, so if you have any comments or questions about this article, please leave them below. I read them every day, and will answer every one.