If you are a long-distance runner or purely love running just for pleasure, this may not apply to you. However, for those who spend an excessive amount of time on a cardio machine (i.e. treadmill, stair master, elliptical, etc.) with the effort to lose fat, let me ask you a question… Are you noticing progress anymore?
If not, here is the answer why. It has been shown in studies that over a long period of time, low-intensity cardio reduces metabolism. Which means your metabolism has become more efficient, disallowing you to burn lots of calories. You may initially get that drop in body weight, but if you have a love affair with the treadmill you will adapt to that type of training, and calorie output & progress will stagnate. This is a problem because you will become frustrated and stressed without realizing that your metabolism has repressed. In an attempt to push fat loss again, you will drop calories even further and/or spend MORE time on the treadmill. All this does is put you in a deeper hole, where your metabolism becomes severely compromised, turns on starvation mode, and fat will absolutely no longer budge.
Aside from that calamity, this damage to your metabolism is extremely unhealthy and will depress your immune system (defensive mechanisms), cognitive function (memory, problem solving), reproductive system (estrogen and testosterone), metabolic function (hormone levels), repair function (recovery) and increase muscle loss all on top of a low calorie diet to begin with. And then when you decide to eat normally again, you experience the “weight rebound effect” as many of you may already be aware of. The calories you once needed to maintain your weight are no longer needed for homeostasis, but they in fact end up being a surplus due to the adjustment your body made to the lower caloric intake from dieting. You can easily see how frustrating this can be, and how difficult it can become to regenerate your metabolism back to its normal function capabilities.
Contrast low-intensity cardio with high-intensity cardio (AKA intervals) and you will see which is superior. This style of training does NOT reduce metabolism, but in fact can increase after the exercise (via EPOC) and allow fat loss to come at an accelerated rate.
In a study that compared 2 groups with one performing 1 hour of low-intensity cardio at 3 MPH and the other group performing 6 30-second sprint intervals (with a brief period of rest in between sprints), guess who lost TWICE as much body fat?
That’s right, high-intensity wins.
This is the style of training I always advocate and teach my clients when the goal is fat loss because it works, big time. If you despise sprinting like me, no worries. Interval training can be performed in a multitude of different ways with exercises that achieve the same effect. If you haven’t see my video on this a while back, you can check it out here as an example.
Bottom line, I’m not saying you need to stop low-intensity cardio, just use it in moderation and throw in some high-intensity intervals. It’s physically demanding and takes a lot of discipline to perform. If you can’t find the motivation, ask a gym partner or friend to help push you to your highest physical exertion.
Justin Janoska just so happens to be a passionate fitness trainer certified by NASM, as well as a sports & exercise nutritionist, and would love to hear from you on Twitter & Facebook! Make sure you check out his website HERE… and if U wanna know more about training OR anything else, U can always email us at Questions@FitPerez.com!!