Choosing the right kind of cardio can be the key component to ensuring that you burn fat as efficiently and quickly as possible
I have been running for years but I don’t seem to lose any weight. Why is this?
Low-intensity cardio training, such as jogging, is one of the most popular tactics for weight loss but it’s far from the best. Long-duration, steady-state cardio isn’t an efficient way to burn fat – if fat loss is your primary objective, you’d be better off doing other activities.
Why isn’t this form of cardio best for fat loss?
Slow cardio training can lead to an increase in your levels of the stress hormone cortisol because of the stress this type of training puts on your system. Cortisol encourages the storage of abdominal body fat – in other words belly fat, the very fat most men want to lose – and also lowers testosterone, which is vital for building muscle and burning fat. Training like this is often also accompanied by the desire to eat a lot of carbs and not enough protein, which will also lead to fat storage.
What type of training should I do then?
Lift weights and do high-intensity cardio training. Lifting weights helps to promote the release of growth hormones that burn fat and you’ll also add more muscle, which has the effect of making your body burn more calories, even at rest. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is also great because it has the same effect on your body as weight training and doesn’t stress your body too much.
What is HIIT?
Short, intense bursts of sprinting, cycling or any other type of traditional cardio. Typically it’s a short period of all-out effort followed by slower periods to recover before repeating this pattern. Like weightlifting, it creates an oxygen debt that your body must balance afterwards, which has the effect of burning far more calories and releasing more growth hormone.
How do I create a HIIT plan?
Due to the nature of this training and level of intensity, you don’t want to be doing it every day. Done daily, it will quickly cause excess fatigue on your nervous system, at which point it stops being effective. Instead, do two or three workouts a week in which, after a thorough warm-up, you alternate between 20-30 seconds of all-out effort and 45-60 seconds of recovery. Repeat this eight to 12 times and finish with a warm-down. The beauty is that the exercise you do can be sprinting, cycling, swimming, rowing, punching – whatever your favourite activity is. As you get fitter, increase the length of the work period and reduce the recovery period.
Should I still do longer, slower cardio sessions?
If you love getting outdoors and going for a long run or ride, then definitely still do so occasionally because the benefits to your sense of health, wellbeing and mood are undeniable and shouldn’t be ignored. However, treat it as a recovery session and …read more