Dec 12 2012

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

I’ve had a lot of comments about part 1 of this blog.  The main comment has been along the lines of… “joggers / cyclists / swimmers are really fit and thin, so how can what you are saying be true!”  To which I answer what does ‘fit’ mean?  There are…

I’ve had a lot of comments about part 1 of this blog.  The main comment has been along the lines of… “joggers / cyclists / swimmers are really fit and thin, so how can what you are saying be true!”  To which I answer what does ‘fit’ mean?  There are five components to fitness: 1. Cardiovascular endurance (like a marathoner would exhibit), 2. muscular endurance (like a boxer would have), 3. muscular strength (e.g. a powerlifter), 4. flexibility (e.g. a martial artist), and 5. body composition (e.g. a bodybuilder).  Each is ‘fit’ in their own right but poor in the other arenas i.e. I don’t think Wiggo will be winning any bodybuilding competitions any time soon!  Let me also clarify that thin does not mean you have a low body fat percentage, being lean does.  If you look at the photo of the lady on the left, she is thin but not lean, hence her saggy bum.  The lady on the right is lean with a lower body fat percentage – which looks better and which is healthier?

#3 cardio raises your stress hormone levels
All forms of exercise are a stress, and release a hormone response in the form of cortisol.  Research shows that cortisol is chronically higher in endurance athletes as it is highly effective at breaking down muscle tissue.  Cortisol also increases insulin sensitivity, encouraging your body to store a higher percentage of your consumed food as visceral belly fat. It has been proven that men with more belly fat produce far more cortisol throughout the day and have decreased insulin sensitivity when compared to those with less belly fat.  This means that no matter how much you exercise or eat healthy, you won’t lose weight if your cortisol is elevated.

Other forms of exercise such as resistance training also release cortisol, but with it anabolic hormones such as testosterone.  These counter the effects of cortisol reducing muscle loss & fat gain.

#4 cardio will make you look dreadful naked
Cardio is great for someone looking to increase their lung function or strengthen their heart, but the majority of wobbly bellied runners this is an outcome not a goal.  Compare the bodies of an ultra marathon runner to that of a rugby player – who would you rather look like?  Endurance athletes tend to look emaciated and drawn. Sprinters, on the other hand, generally partake in short bursts of intense anaerobic activity followed by relatively long recovery periods and have the muscular definition that many wish to emulate.  Paul Chek (2004) points out that aerobics instructors who taught three or more hours a week had comparatively high levels of body fat given their volume of work.  Alarm bells should be going off if your instructor who generally performs +20 classes per week (10 x more than the average class participant), isn’t rocking a jaw dropping physique.

The Final Word
If you are looking to only improve your cardio-repertory system, or perform active recovery after a hard weeks training then long, slow duration cardio training is the way to go.
However, it is estimated that optimal dose of aerobic exercise necessary to lose belly fat appears to be 3,780 calories per week. This would require 1 hour of moderate intensity cycling 7 days a week (burning 550 calories a day) so that you could lose even a pound a week!

If this is you and you need some guidance on how to improve you training for the better.  Why not call us for a FREE personal training consultation on 02081665110 or visit us a www.salecca.co.uk/blog to find out more or leave a comment

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Salman