Are you a self-professed cardio bunny, pounding the pavements every night or heading off to yet another spin class? We’re firm believers in doing workouts you love, but if you’re still doing long, boring cardio sessions that you hate, just because you think it’s the golden ticket for weight loss, then this is the blogpost for you! Here are some of the ways that choosing endless cardio over resistance sessions could be harming your progress...
Cardio Doesn’t Build Muscle like Strength Training
Clocking in hours at the gym, hitting the treadmill or the bike, is often assumed to be the best method for losing weight - because calories in versus calories out, right? However, cardio alone burns both fat and muscle, and maintaining your muscle mass is crucial for increasing your calorie burn. Weight training, on the other hand, builds lean muscle mass and raises your metabolism - meaning you’ll burn more fat even when you’re not working out!
Cardio Raises Cortisol Levels.
The hormone Cortisol is responsible for many useful things including: controlling blood sugar levels, regulating metabolism and reducing inflammation. But stress can cause our levels of cortisol to rise, and having too much of this “stress hormone” can cause the body to store fat, especially around the abdomen. It’s the body’s way of storing “emergency fuel” when it thinks it’s in danger. Doing steady-state cardio for long periods of time has been proven to increase cortisol levels, making your body feel like it's in a constant state of danger.
Cardio Lowers an Important Thyroid Hormones
Thyroid hormones are directly responsible for the state of our metabolism and weight. One of these hormones, T3, rises or falls in response to diet and activity and can become low with excessive cardio. Low T3 levels result in a lowered metabolism, meaning you're burning fewer calories throughout your day.
Long Cardio Sessions are Less Effective at Burning Fat.
You’d think that the longer you spend working out, the better you are to lose fat and feel fitter, right? Actually, this isn’t necessarily the case! HIIT training (high-intensity interval training) has been shown to be more more effective at reducing body fat. Not only does high-intensity workouts stimulate the release of hormones that stimulate the release of fat from fat stores to be used for energy, but they also promote “afterburn”. This is what happens after intense exercise, when the body is trying to recover and repair - resulting in more calories burned up to 48 hours after exercise.
So Should You Stop Doing Cardio?
Even if weight loss is your goal, we’re not saying cardio isn’t great for you - it still has a heap of benefits for your cardiovascular system - it's just about getting a good balance! Limit those long, slow, cardio sessions (that likely bore the death out of you) and add in couple of fun, high-intensity sessions and strength workouts instead as well as taking plenty of rest. Mixing up your routine will not only prevent you from getting bored, but will also make sure you’re getting great results and are looking after your health in the best way possible.