Dec 05 2012

Why Your ‘Cardio’ Workout Is Making You Fat (Part 1/2)

I know this statement will rile some of you, but I’ve never met a lean or vaguely ‘in shape’ person who participates mainly in cardiovascular exercise. This ‘cardio’ training, more specifically slow, long-distance training or low-medium intensity exercise classes is making people either overweight, injured or look emaciated. Just walk…

I know this statement will rile some of you, but I’ve never met a lean or vaguely ‘in shape’ person who participates mainly in cardiovascular exercise. This ‘cardio’ training, more specifically slow, long-distance training or low-medium intensity exercise classes is making people either overweight, injured or look emaciated. Just walk through the cardio suite and you’ll see these people panting away, generally bored, counting down the minutes until they can get off their machine, perform a circuit round the weights machines & get back to work.
I don’t have anything against true runners, cyclist or swimmers who compete, pushing themselves to their limit; if anything I admire these people. Having run for many years as part of my Parachute Regiment training I can appreciate the commitment required. But for those who jog along, cycle to work or participate in aerobic based classes and hope to lose fat, this blog should either make you up your game, or get off the hamster wheel. Read on to find out why…

 

No.1 ‘Cardio’ is a highly ‘inefficient’ form of fat burning
When attending your aerobics class your body will burn calories. BUT, not all calories are stored as fat. The majority of those calories you burn will be glycogen (stored in form of carbohydrate) and the rest, your muscle mass.
But wait, ‘Ive heard there’s a special fat burning zone that I must stay in to attain my ideal Mo Farah’esque body!’ Unfortunately this theory doesn’t hold up. The theory states that 50% of the calories burned in ‘the zone’ are fat calories. So lets say you trudge along for 30 minutes on the treadmill burning 300 calories, that comes to 150 calories in fat, just enough to cancel out 1 biscuit! Now let’s compare this to 20 minutes of hard intervals, kettlebell training, or intense resistance training, e.g 20 minutes of kettlebell training burns 500 calories, that comes to 250 calories in fat and in less time!

No.2 ‘Cardio’ is injurious
Have you ever met a runner who hasn’t suffered an injury? The answer is “no”; Even the elite generally have to retire due to long term injuries. Remember Paula Radcliffe? An injury isn’t directly going to expand your waistline, but 12 weeks on the couch nursing shin splints will. The constant pounding or grinding of joints over prolonged periods of time leads to proven detrements, declassification of bone, decreased bone mass, an increase in risk of stress fractures & spinal problems (Sapolsky 2004).

No.3 ‘Cardio’ is highly catabolic
Anabolic (like anabolic steroids) means building, whilst catabolism is to breakdown.  If you were to assess the body of a distance runner or cyclist you would see that they aren’t slender but lack any muscle mass.  Indeed, a recent study showed the average body fat content of jogging club members was 22 percent in one study, which is 3% off being overweight!  When you expose your body to repeated long-duration excursions, your body wants to weigh less in order to become more efficient at doing what you’re asking it to do. And the easiest way for your body to weigh less is to catabolize muscle (which of course, weighs more than fat).  So why is this making your fat?  Your metabolism is directly linked to the amount of muscle mass you have, more muscle mass equals a supercharged metabolism, less muscle slows your metabolism.

Next week find out three more reasons why your ‘cardio’ is making your fat.  If you have any questions about the post please post them below and as always please feel free to share

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Salman