Cardiovascular exercise (Cardio) can be used to describe any activity that requires large muscle groups to continuously act for long enough to increase the volume of blood through the cardiovascular system. The benefits of regular Cardio far exceed fat loss or the ability to run faster or further. Those who complete Cardio regularly will be bigger, stronger and healthier than non-athletes. This article will address some of the misconceptions that surround Cardio to help maximise your time in the gym and your results beyond.
Cardio & the ‘Fat Burning Zone’
It is a common sight to see in most gyms people who are reading a magazine whilst on an exercise bike or strolling along happily on a treadmill hardly breaking a sweat. It must be acknowledged that anything is better than nothing when it comes to Cardio but if you are looking to maximise results and minimise the time it takes to get them then these are not productive means to attain your goals. One of the underlying beliefs surrounding Cardio is the alluring ‘Fat Burning Zone’ that is displayed on most pieces of equipment and speaks to a level of activity that moderately increases the heart rate. This ‘Zone’ plays to the attractive belief that training at a low intensity will be more productive than training at a higher intensity. This is particularly attractive to the majority of people because most people want the results with a minimum of effort. Unfortunately, the simple answer is that time spent in the ‘Fat Burning Zone’ on Cardio equipment will not result in greater fat loss than time spent in the other ‘Zones’ that indicate higher heart rates.
Cardio & Low Intensity Exercise
The belief that the heart rate associated with ‘Fat Burning Zones’ are the sweet spot for body transformation are underpinned by the fact that fat is the preferred fuel for our bodies during low-intensity exercise. This sounds great – unfortunately, the amount of time that needs to be dedicated to low intensity exercise to make substantial changes far exceed the amount of higher activity exercise, additionally any results must be supported by a strict diet to increase effect. This is the reason why any body transformation by those undertaking low intensity Cardio is painfully slow and potentially de-motivating.
Cardio & High Intensity Exercise
High intensity exercise uses glucose and glycogen for energy. Therefore fat metabolism during this type of exercise is reduced when compared to moderate or low intensity Cardio. However, the higher the intensity of the exercise the more calories will be burned which greatly increases the likelihood of creating the calorific deficit required for overall fat loss.
Cardio: The Simple Truth
As with most training and exercise variations every type of Cardio will have its evangelists and its success stories. However, fat loss is primarily accomplished through the creation of a calorie deficit. Simply, the body must require more fuel than is being put into it to require fat stores to be accessed as an alternative fuel source.
Cardio Intensity and Fat Loss Summary
- The Higher the Intensity the greater the likelihood of Fat Loss.
- Combining Diet and Exercise are Key.
- There are no Short Cuts to Great Results.
- Work Hard and Smart to Attain Results Quickly.