Working out is a great start but some things can reduce or block your progress. Are you making these 5 biggest cardio workout mistakes?
You might be doing a lot of cardio without a lot of weight loss results. Or maybe you plan to incorporate a lot more cardio to lose some extra body fat. In both cases you want to avoid these mistakes. Cardio can be beneficial for your results if you do it right.
1. More cardio always equals more fat loss
It might sound crazy that it’s a mistake to use this principle in your workouts.
The thing is that exercise puts stress on your body. This is a good thing as long as you do it right. The stress triggers processes in your body that help you become stronger. This way your body is better able to deal with the exercise next time.
The problems start when you overdo it.
The first possibility is that you get injured. When this happens you are not able to do any exercise. No more calorie burning from exercise in that case.
The second consequence is that certain stress hormone levels rise too much. These hormones influence your body negatively for weight loss. It might think you are in a very dangerous situation. In that case it doesn’t want to lose fat. It wants to store energy.
This stress on your body can also increase the amount of hunger you have.
By doing too much cardio you might find yourself hungrier. This is not just directly after your cardio sessions. It can increase hunger long after you’re done. Unfortunately unlike weight training cardio does not continue burning extra calories after you’re done.
Due to the increased hunger you might eat more. You might even eat more than you burned. This way cardio can actually negatively impact your weight loss if you overdo it.
Diminishing returns on exercise
There is another thing you need to keep in mind. You will see less and less calorie burning for the same amount of exercise.
A big factor in how many calories you burn with exercise is the amount you weigh. Once you start losing weight, your body will need to move around less weight. This makes it so your workout routine doesn’t burn as many calories as before. This is the reason for a lot of weight loss plateaus.
You can solve this by building muscle to increase the amount of calories you burn or by doing longer and more intense cardio sessions. Keep in mind that at some point more cardio won’t be better.
2. Cardio burns the most calories
It’s a common belief that cardio and HIIT (high intensity interval training) are the best kind of workouts to burn as many calories as possible.
This is true if you’re looking to burn as many calories as possible in the next 60 minutes. However, if you want the most long term weight loss for the least amount of time, building muscle is for you.
Your body uses energy to do all kinds of things. Keeping your heat beating, digesting food, sleeping,…
As mentioned, your body uses more energy the heavier you are. A way you can weigh more in a healthy (and better looking) way than gaining fat is with more muscle. The efforts of weight lifting pay dividends a long time after you’re done.
More muscle will also increase the calories you burn with your cardio workouts. You can combine the two for extra fat burning. But if you’re on a tight time schedule you might want to stick to weight lifting.
Do keep in mind that the most efficient calorie burning exercise isn’t always the best. If you absolutely hate weight lifting you probably won’t stick to it. If you love your cardio workouts a lot more they might be the way to go for you.
3. Not boosting cardio results
You can boost the amount of calories you burn with your cardio workouts.
The first way is to build more muscle. Because of the increased mass you carry around, your body uses more energy. You could also do this by gaining fat but that’s the unhealthy and less good-looking way.
The second way is to do your cardio sessions in a fasted state.
Fasting will help you reduce your insulin levels. This will make it easier for your body to convert body fat into energy during your cardio sessions.
4. Only doing one form of cardio
You can get more out of your cardio workout sessions if you switch up the kind of cardio you do.
Cardio isn’t really meant to build muscle but you will inevitably grow certain muscles or at least preserve them better by using them regularly.
The muscles you use for one kind of cardio workout are not the same as others. By changing it up you will activate different muscles and promote more calorie burning.
You can swap running for swimming or bicycling or other cardio workouts.
5. Trying to stay in the cardio “fat burning heart rate zone”
The last of these biggest cardio workout mistakes for weight loss is trying to stay in the “fat burning heart rate zone”.
This weight loss heart rate supposedly is the heart rate at which you burn the most fat. This phenomenon is a stubborn myth some people still believe in.
The idea was that if you are in this zone you burn more of a % of calories from fat rather than carbohydrates in the form of stored glycogen. This may be true however this theory does not take into account that more intense exercise above 70% of your maximum heart rate burns significantly more overall calories.
The source of calories, whether glycogen from your muscles or fat from your belly doesn’t matter since excess glycogen gets stored as fat anyway.
Higher intensity workouts will almost always burn more calories than lower intensity workouts.