CARDIO - Should You Even Bother With Cardio? Who needs it and who doesn't

14. 6. 2018

I want to get slimmer, I am going to do more cardio...

There are many options (bike, treadmill, rowing machine, ...) - but which one is the right one, which machine is the best choice. At what moment do I really burn the fat when doing cardio? We'll answer all the above questions in the following summary.

Let me google it for you ...

As Google writes: "Cardio is a classic and fairly reliable way of losing weight and getting closer to your ideal figure. But this may not be true at all unless you follow a few fundamental principles. Very easily said: If a person wants to lose weight, the energy value taken must be less than the energy that is being issued ...therefore it should be inferred that = The more cardio a person does, the more energy emits, the more fat is being burnt...? Well, basically yes.

When it actually is cardio and when it is not!

Cardio is an aerobic (aero - air) activity. This is an activity where the work of the muscles and the metabolic processes in them take place in the presence of oxygen. This means that you are able to perform the activity for a long time (eg a running marathon) without being in the so-called oxygen debt. This is best explained by the activity of the run. For example, sprint does not rank among aerobic activities, because during such a rapid and intense movement, the organism simply does not supply the necessary amount of oxygen to the muscles and all working organs. And the body in such conditions is simply not able to function for a long time. There is a build-up of lactate in the muscles, which then severely restricts their functioning. Such an activity is called anaerobic.


Do I even have to do the cardio?

As far as cardiovascular health is concerned (ACSM recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week), it can be achieved just by strength training! But as far as burning fat is your goal and if you no longer plan to increase the volume and intensity of your workout and reduce your caloric intake, the addition of "cardio" activity is essential.

Cardio is appropriate to include into training if:

Cardio is not necessary for you if:

I'm going to do more cardio because I want to get slimmer!

It is important, however, to realize that the body tends to get used to everything very quickly and adapt. Therefore, it is not a good idea to spend hours and hours on the cardio... First (with the same amount of food), the body reacts to a large energy outtake by getting slimmer. If you go to cardio regularly and constantly ... your body gets used to monotonous activity and adapts itself. It stops responding by getting slimmer ...If, after a long period of the same activity, you have to eliminate monotone cardio (whether due to illness, not enough time or any other reasons), the body immediately begins to realize that you have less movement and will start to evaluate the situation that intake (the same amount of food) is suddenly bigger than the outtake...Nothing, of course, is black and white. Some types of cardio exercises are better than others.

In general, however, the body is rapidly becoming used to monotonous activity, so it is highly recommended to use an explosive HIIT cardio that is much less time-consuming and much more effective. This cardio type may be included in your training for a long run. You can read more about the HIIT cardio  HERE and HERE

"The more joints you use during the cardio, the more effective the training will be"

From this sentence, it must be clear to you that type of motion such as walking on the treadmill when you put your hands on the handles in front of you will definitely not have such an effect as exercising on an elliptical machine or a rowing machine. YES, the person uses the whole body while moving, so the activity is not as pleasant as walking on the treadmill with a speed number 4, while reading a book, calling someone or giving likes on Instagram ...

But that's what it is!

For most people, the treadmill is a number one choice ... Unfortunately, using a speed of 4 or 5, this person during one hour burns, with exaggeration, a croissant. Research that focused on patients doing cardio walking slowly on a treadmill for 90 minutes found out that during this time no fat was burnt. There was no fat oxidation. It is also a very common mistake, that these "treadmill walkers" would drink a "sports drink" during the cardio session, which does a perpetual mobile effect as they actually zero their whole calorie-burning activity.

There are also those who set the treadmill to walk at least uphill. However, in order for this activity to be more demanding for the body and engaging the muscles more, it is necessary to use the upper body to move, not holding the handles on the treadmill, lean back and being dragged.

Walking is one of the least effective activities at all BUT it is one of the most basic ones, so use it whenever it is possible for you (rather than driving a car) but when being in the gym, rather choose a more effective way how to move.

Nevertheless, the treadmills are always fully occupied in each gym. It's a comfortable activity - but the changing body shouldn't and isn't comfortable and easy- neither should be the activity to reach the results...If it was easy, we all would look perfect.

Instead of walking on the treadmill, use the elliptical trainer for 25 minutes, increase the resistance, pull the handles against the resistance and not only you will burn more, but also strengthen the body at the same time.

Fat burning can be divided into two parts

You need to realize that all organs in the body store fat. But the fat we see and want to get rid of is called subcutaneous fat.
The first step is lipolysis, which is the process where fat stored in fat cells is decomposed into the bloodstream in the form of fatty acids. This process occurs immediately after starting physical activity, such as running on the treadmill. But it is still not it!
The second part is oxidation (burning), where the washed fatty acids (lipolysis) are delivered to different organs such as the heart, the liver, but also the muscles. Oxidation is the fat burning step. The fat that will not be oxidized will go back and stay unburnt in the body.

Here's the summary: How to maximize fat loss by doing the cardio?

As you can read above, it is important to maximize fatty acid oxidation. Here comes a series of HIIT, which causes higher fatty acid oxidation compared to the classic LISS (low-intensity steady state) of cardio.

Other benefits of cardio:

Here are some other examples of activities and the energy value that you use roughly during them:

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ACSM. 2011. ACSM. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 June 2018].

Substrate metabolism when subjects are fed carbohydrate during exercise. Horowitz JF1, Mora-Rodriguez R, Byerley LO, Coyle EF.. 1999. Substrate metabolism when subjects are fed carbohydrate during exercise.. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 June 2018].

University of Texas Medical Branch, Department of Surgery and Shriners Burns Hospital, Metabolism Unit, Galveston, TX 77550, USA. 2006. The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease.. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 14 June 2018].

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