Don’t kid yourself. Cardio isn’t as great as you think.

We all want that killer body with the perfect stomach, but most of us are wasting precious time. If you think those cardio machines are the ticket, you’d better guess again.

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Cardio. Feels like a dirty word. Like cursing in a church. It is also the bane of my, and many other weightlifters, existence. If you’ve ever stepped foot in a gym, the first thing you’ve probably noticed is the plethora of cardio equipment. There are so many options to choose from. You have stair climbers, tall bikes, short bikes, treadmills, elliptical, and row machines. You can get an intense cardiovascular workout without ever having to leave the comfort of your local gym. That is of course after you’ve driven there or taken public transit, because who would consider getting their cardiovascular kick by walking/running/cycling to the gym? They have that meme with the escalator leading to the gym entrance for a reason. If you are one of those who’ve forked out the cash to buy your own cardio equipment, congratulations. You can now bypass those pricey gym memberships just to get your cardio fix, because I swear more people go to the gym just to do cardio than actually weight train. But for the rest of us, we are unlucky enough to get to use the machines at the gym that nobody ever wipes their sweat off of.

So what is about cardio that the modern gym-goer finds so annoyingly attractive? Cardio isn’t fun. It is so unbelievably boring. I cannot stand doing it. I am one of those typical gym rats that nearly never sets foot in the cardio section unless it’s to find some benches to do some ab work. I would rather play some football with my mates than do cardio. What makes playing sport, and running outside in general, even better than the bland gym cardio is that not only is it better for your cardiovascular health, it’s also better neurologically. You get fresh air (unless it’s an indoor sport), to see nature, it’s motivating, it’s more challenging, with sport you’re constantly thinking and exercising your mind, plus sport is more rigorous with the constant stop and go. Clearly, sport is so much better than mindlessly plodding along on a treadmill. I will admit that as a teenager, I would jog (yes outside) and found myself slimming up nicely, not to mention bettering my breathing as I am asthmatic. Doesn’t mean I liked it. In fact, I put cardio up there with my hate of onions, which I hate a lot. Yeah, I do/eat it when I have to, but otherwise I avoid them like the plague.

Sorry for all the hate for the world’s most favourite option for fat loss. I mean, if everyone enjoys doing it (which I highly doubt people actually do) then it has to be good right? Actually, no. It isn’t. Depending on your aim that is. If you are training for a marathon, or are on the rowing team, or something like that, cardio is perfect for you since it is first and foremost meant for training. But if you are in training, it’s better to do it in the conditions in which you’ll be competing. Makes more sense. If you aren’t training and are doing it for the excuse of weight loss, sorry but cardio isn’t your best option. Sure it’s great when they have the TVs playing all the mind-rotting cable shows we all robotically watch, but avert your gaze from the boob tube and all of the sudden you are thrust back into the painful reality that you’ve been running/climbing/cycling/rowing/whatever-it-is-you’re-doing for the last who knows how long and have still gotten nowhere. Disheartening yeah? At least if you were doing the same thing outdoors you could have a slightly more enjoyable experience. Even swimming is better because it is cardio coupled with practically a full body workout.

So why are these people torturing themselves? Because somewhere in the last few decades, people have created this belief that cardio=fat loss and weight training=weight gain. Do a ton of cardio and you can have the body you’ve always dreamed of, but be careful with pumping iron because you will totally bulk up. Yeah, it isn’t true. Shannon Clark, a personal trainer and writer at Bodybuilding.com said, ‘It’s time to break free from the thinking that cardio equates to fat loss and weight training equates to building muscle and weight gain. It’s simply not as clear cut as that and often the biggest difference between fat loss and muscle building is more related to diet than anything.’ I do agree that there are some benefits to doing cardio, but I agree more that it is by far the least effective method to achieving your weight loss goals.

During a gym induction at Gold’s Gym, the trainer/sales guy drew a triangle and wrote down three words: Nutrition, weight training, and cardio. He looked at me and said, ‘which of these three do you think is the most important?’ This had to be a trick question. I mean, yeah of course it’s important to eat healthy, and well if you want to build muscle and gain weight (since muscle weighs more than fat) then you should weight train more, but if you’re trying to lose weight then cardio is most important. So I guess it really just depends on your goal? Right? Wrong. The guy explained to me that nutrition is the number one most important aspect of a healthy lifestyle. Sure you can work out and do cardio till the cows come home, but if you aren’t eating healthy, and the right amounts, then all that training will amount to little.

The second most important was weight training. This also surprised me. Yeah I hate cardio, but it was a bit hard to believe that it isn’t as effective as everyone thinks. Yes, cardio is in actuality less affective at fat loss than simply hitting the weights. Kind of puts a dampener on all that effort you put just to go to the gym to run on a stationary object to get to a goal that would have been reached sooner had you jumped off the cardio train and picked up some dumbbells. Cardio should actually only make up a small portion of your total workout. I see people running on those machines for seriously like an hour and I want to die for them. If only they knew that a weight lifting workout can actually boost the metabolism for up to 36 hours after, which you won’t necessarily get with cardio. You’d have to be sprinting in order to see results similar to that and if you are anything like me, that isn’t going to happen. Honestly, do yourself a favour. Get off that cardio machine. Don’t think about it, just do it. If you really feel the need, do enough to get your heart rate up, then get off and go hit those weights. Your new you will thank you for it.

2 Comments


  1. Unless you live in a zombie apocalypse. Then all of those cardio nuts will have the last laugh. I think this was perfectly described in the movie Zombieland.

    Reply

    1. good thing we don’t live in a zombie apocalypse. but have you watched people running on a treadmill. most aren’t going fast enough to even survive a zombie attack. those suckers can move pretty fast for being undead 😉

      Reply

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