There’s so much misinformation in the fitness industry that it’s perfectly understandable why most people who are trying to lose weight end up getting information overload when they’re first starting out.
They have no idea if they should do Zumba or spinning classes. The guy whose knees are hurting still runs daily because he thinks that running burns the most calories and he should go hard or go home.
Women shirk the weights because they don’t want to look bulky, failing to realize that cardio done with weights will greatly accelerate their fat loss and leave them looking fantastic and shapelier than they’ve ever been. There’s a reason why the Les Mills Bodypump workout is popular all over the world.
Here’s what you need to know:
- All forms of cardio will help you to lose weight
It doesn’t matter if it’s running, swimming, cycling, rowing, walking or kickboxing. If the activity raises your heart rate for a prolonged period, it’s cardio in nature.
Even when you’re working with weights and doing deadlifts followed by pull-ups, snatches, etc. and there’s no rest between your reps, the activity takes on a cardio nature.
- Choosing your cardio activity
So, do not fret about the number of calories you’ll burn from the type of exercise you’re doing. What really matters is that it suits you and it’s what you like doing. If your knees hurt, you should forget the running and choose a cardio activity like swimming laps. It’s low impact and you’ll still lose weight.
It’s important to note that the cardio activity is just to raise your metabolic rate and get you in fat burning mode. Your diet will do the rest. If you’re at a caloric deficit, you’ll burn fat regardless or what cardio activity you choose.
- Do you like what you’re doing?
Here’s something most people fail to understand – you’re more likely to stick with an activity you like instead of struggling to endure an activity you hate (just because you think you’ll lose more weight doing it.) You’ll probably end up quitting in no time.
If you dread running, don’t do it. You’re not a hamster. Choose an activity you like. Maybe the Zumba classes that has you working out in a group seems fun and exciting. Go for that instead.
Maybe the spinning class in the cool room with the fast, electronic music really appeals to you… while you’re cursing and swearing on the treadmill. You know what? Turn off the treadmill and go join that spinning class.
Do NOT torture yourself and throw out motivational quotes like ‘Go hard or go home’ to fool yourself… or you might find yourself throwing in the towel and only going home, and staying there. Choose an activity you love and if it raises your heart rate (and most of the other activities do), you’re all good.
- High intensity VS steady state
Ultimately, the cardio activity you choose should allow you to progress and you should be able to do it at a higher pace as you get fitter. Just like how you can run, swim or cycle faster, the activity you choose should allow you to increase the pace without it becoming dangerous.
As you get fitter, you’ll want your workouts to be shorter and faster. This will not only mean less time working out, but you’ll also be fitter, stronger and leaner. Less is more here. The goal is to always make progress.
Bear these 4 tips in mind when you’re doing cardio and you’ll be on the right track. Start off with 5 to 6 sessions a week, and as you get fitter and the workouts get shorter and more intense, 3 sessions a week will suffice… and here’s something to remember – cardio is hardio.
No matter how fit you get, cardio will ALWAYS be tough. Be ready for that.