Ladies: How Cardio is Inhibiting Your Results

Train Loco Readers…How Are We Doing This Month!? Today we have a great and informative guest article by our friend and colleague, Mike Samuels. Mike is coach, trainer, writer, and fellow Team Norton member. We asked Mike to write a guest post for our site on a specific type of cardio that we feel is too common, overused, and is inhibiting females results. If you like cardio you’re not going to want to miss this one. Without further ado, please give your undivided attention to Mike Samuels. Enjoy!

-Eric and Chris


mike samuels

So you’re training for fat loss?


To lose fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume, right?


And what burns calories? Cardio.


Everybody KNOWS that to lose weight, burn fat and get lean, you need to do cardio.


Look at all the pro figure athletes and bikini competitors – they do their fasted cardio in the mornings, often hit up a little more after a weights workout, and do plenty of other activity during the day to keep that calorie burn going.


Plus, it makes sense – female endurance runners are super slim, and they hardly ever hit the weights.


Why then, is cardio the number one physique inhibitor for women attaining results?



Is This You?


You get up early, rub the sleep from your eyes, down a glass of ice water, a few fat burners and some green tea pills.


At the gym, you dump your bag in the locker room, and make your way to the treadmill.


You set a slight incline, adjust the speed to a brisk walk, pop your copy of Fitness RX on the stand, and place your earbuds in, ready for the long haul.


And that’s where you stay.


For the next 60 minutes.


You’ve broken a light sweat, your legs are a little shaky, you’ve made your way through the best part of the mag, and the calorie burn reads 500.


That’s your cardio done. For the next 10 hours at least, when you’ll be back again, ready to pound out another 30 minutes of intervals for another 300 calories.



Why is This So Bad?


It sounds great doesn’t it?


800 calories burned in a day – over a week, that’s 5,600 calories – almost enough for 2 pounds of fat loss. Whatever your method of cardio and your level of intensity, that sounds like a good thing.


But here’s the deal – this kind of cardio is WRECKING your physique.



Cardio – The Women’s Physique Killer


The trouble with this amount and type of cardio is twofold.


Firstly, aside from burning calories, it does nothing for developing your physique.


When it comes to losing fat, after addressing your diet, weight training should be your first priority.




Well, weight training actually develops your muscles, cardio doesn’t.


By “develop” I don’t mean it makes you huge though. It takes years of deliberately busting your ass (and often anabolic enhancement) to actually develop the amount of muscle mass most women would consider freaky, so there’s no need to worry about “getting too big.”


I mentioned female endurance runners earlier, and will bring them up again here, using the old cliché of the marathon runner vs the sprinter.


The marathon runner might have a low body fat percentage, but their physique probably isn’t the kind you aspire to. Apart from that low body fat, they’re pretty skinny. They don’t have any upper body mass, aren’t particularly “toned” and are certainly lacking in the booty department!



But what about a female sprinter? I’m guessing that’s probably more the kind of body you’d like?



Lean, but not overly muscular. Developed, but not bulky. And they certainly have great glutes!


These girls DO do some cardio, but it’s not hours and hours on the treadmill, stairmaster or elliptical.


They perform short, sharp, intense sprint-type drills, and base their training mainly around weights.


This weight training develops power and strength, not only preventing injury and making you a better athlete, but also shaping your body into one you can be proud of.


Slow, steady cardio burns calories, and that’s about it. It does absolutely nothing in terms of “toning” and “shaping” your upper body, and all it does for your legs is make them very good at tolerating long duration, very low intensity training.


To build lean muscle and shed fat, you need weights – heavy ones!



The Metabolism Murderer


What if you’re already weight training? Does that mean you should do long, steady cardio sessions too?


Not really.


This is the second problem.


When you combine a calorie-restricted diet with weight training, and an obscene amount of cardio, you might initially get some fast results in terms of weight loss, but this will soon slow down, and can have huge negative consequences.


Firstly, you can only burn fat at a certain rate.


If you’re eating in a calorie deficit, hitting the weights and losing a pound or two a week, you’re on the right track.


Losing more than that by adding in cardio? It’s very likely you’re losing muscle mass too.


Not only does this worsen your physique, but it also slows down your metabolism, which results in a fat loss plateau. Muscle is very metabolically active, so when you lose it, your body burns fewer calories, meaning you need to cut calories even further to carry on dropping fat.


The more you cut calories, the more your body adapts to this low intake.


Before you know it, you’re eating less than 1,000 calories per day, hammering out cardio like there’s no tomorrow, and not losing a single solitary pound of fat. Your body becomes so efficient at preserving calories, that your metabolic rate drops even more, and it holds onto your body fat for all it’s worth.



Cardio for Women – The RIGHT Way


Before even considering cardio, you need to get your diet and weight training in order.


Not eating in a small to moderate calorie deficit, with adequate protein, healthy fat and fiber intake?


Not lifting heavy weights (mainly in the 5 to 10 rep range) and including exercises like squats, deadlifts, presses and rows in your program?


Fix these before thinking about cardio.


Once you have those in place though, here’s where your focus should lie –


High-Intensity Interval Training!


Chris and Eric have an awesome guide to HIIT, which I strongly recommend you look into HERE


This will give you literally everything you need to know about doing cardio the right way.


But, as a general overview, adopt the mind-set of being a cardio minimalist.


This means including as little as you need to lose fat.


You can get 90% of the fat loss you need through lifting and diet. Add in a couple of short, really tough interval sessions per week, and you’re well on your way to an awesome physique.


There you go – you thought you had to slave away for 10 hours a week on the treadmill to torch fat, in reality, you’ll get BETTER results with less than 1 hour, provided you do it right.




Mike Samuels is a diet coach and online trainer based in the UK. He is the owner of Healthy Living Heavy Lifting –

Mike is a huge proponent of flexibility, both with diet and training. He loves talking about all things nutrition and lifting-related, reading fiction, drinking good coffee, and just generally having fun. You can grab his flexible dieting home study course here –