By Chris Martinez
Time and time again, I hear this question, so it doesn’t surprise me to hear it again. What is the right amount of cardio to lose weight? Answer is…None! You’re probably saying what the heck is this guy talking about. Well, let me explain. When people talk about losing weight, what they really mean is they want to lose body fat. In order to do this, your nutrition must be in check! I will talk about nutrition another time, so let’s focus on this question.
From my experience, when people talk about cardio, what they tend to explain is low to moderate cardio or low intensity cardio for a sustained amount of time. An example of this would be walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike for 45 min to an hour. If fat loss is your goal, in my opinion, this is not the optimal way of reaching your goal. If your goal is to lose weight, which most of the time includes losing muscle tissue, bone tissue, water, basically anything that’s not fat, then by all means walk on that treadmill for several hours!
Over the past decades research has taught us that doing low to moderate intensity cardio for 45 min to an hour was the best way to burn calories. This is certainly true and this is why you see so many people at your gym doing it. This is fine during that bout of exercise, but what if I told you there was another form of cardio that would lead to greater fat expenditure?
This is where anaerobic training takes the place over this typical boring hour cardio we all have been so immune to. Anaerobic simply means “without air,” so most activities that get you winded quickly would be considered anaerobic. Anaerobic training is probably one of the most effective ways to burn body fat, improve your metabolic rate, improve body composition, and it’s fun!
A few examples of anaerobic training would be sprint intervals where you sprint for 15-20 seconds and then continue with a brisk walk for 40-45 seconds and keep repeating. Some other examples are: kettle bell swings in Tabata intervals, kick boxing intervals, box jumps on a tall box and even weight training intervals. For example, do a set of squats followed by step ups or a set of leg presses followed by lunges. You could even jump rope in between your sets, or keep your rest periods to 30 seconds. This form of cardio is much more effective for fat expenditure, spares times, it’s more intense, and it will keep your metabolism at its highest potential several hours after your work out so that your body will be in a fat burning mode.
Studies prove that high intensity interval training (anaerobic) is “10 times” more effective at burning fat then low to moderate intensity long duration cardio. Anaerobic training also preserves muscle tissue as you drop body fat too. Just look at the difference between a long distance runners body versus a sprinters body and you will see exactly what I’m talking about. I’m not saying that low intensity cardio doesn’t have its place, because it’s a great supplement to a hard resistance training session. But, if you want to skip the treadmill, elliptical or bike, then try some high intensity training. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it!