By now you are well aware that increased activity burns calories and fat. Exercise is essential to your health and well being, but could you be taking part in too much of a good thing? The old adage, more is not always better, is a good rule to live by.
When it comes to fat loss, you need to be in tune with your body and learn how to listen to it. The idea behind fat loss is to manipulate the body often. As long as you are a step ahead of your body’s actions, you will be on top of the fat loss game.
What exactly does that mean? How do you stay a step ahead of your body? Let’s explore this concept a little further.
Megan is an e-client of mine. When she began her fat loss endeavor she started cardio six days a week for forty-five minutes and saw great results in a matter of weeks. Her new cardio program was exhilarating. It pumped her up mentally and physically and gave her a newfound energy she hadn’t felt in years.
It wasn’t long before she extended her forty-five minute ritual to an entire hour for six days a week. With the extended time, she saw even more results. She was delighted.
Eventually, the daily hour cardio chore was wearing on her. Her changes ceased, she was constantly fatigued, and began to hate cardio with an intense passion.
To combat the plateau, she added yet…more cardio on top of fatigue and hatred for exercise. Her grueling hour sessions turned into an hour and fifteen minutes to even longer, an hour and a half.
Nothing is more aggravating than putting all your time and effort into something that takes you no where.
Her fat loss results stalled dead in their tracks and even seemed to reverse. How could something once so productive now be destroying her weight loss efforts?
What may surprise you is that excess cardio can be counterproductive. Any cardio or weight training session lasting over a continuous hour does more harm than good.
Keep Cardio Productive
Cardio is heart healthy and it’s a great exercise, but if your goal with cardio is to burn fat, you need to take it with a stride and make it fat burning productive.
I come across many ladies who are quite active. This is all fine and dandy, but when they are active and top that with teaching spinning classes, kickboxing, high energy videos, and general cardio machines, this can be a recipe for disaster, setting your further back than when you started.
Don’t go overboard with cardio. Keep it simple, yet effective.
Cardio intensity is a factor to keep fat burning beneficial. This does not mean to do an all out killer cardio routine that leaves you crawling from the gym in a near death status, but to simply shake things up a bit to force the body to respond.
A good way to master cardio is with HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). There are many variations of HIIT and my favorite is the 2/2 ratio.
Example of 2/2 Ratio HIIT
Minutes 1-2 – Warm up
Minutes 3-4 – Low intensity
Minutes 5-6 – High intensity
Minutes 7-8 – Low intensity
Minutes 9-10 – High Intensity
Minutes 11-12 – Low intensity
Minutes 13-14 – High intensity
Minutes 15-16 – Low intensity
Minutes 17-18 – High Intensity
Minutes 19-20 – Low intensity
Minutes 21-22 – Cool down
With HIIT, your body never falls in a rut because you are constantly changing the intensity to prevent cardio adaptation.
Another successful cardio tactic to use is Progressive Cardio. Your body can adapt to anything in a short amount of time and Progressive Cardio can stop adaptation before it occurs. Progressive Cardio is simply increasing your cardio each week by either the numbers of day or the amount of time to invite change and prevent staleness, provided you don’t overdo it.
Example of Progressive Cardio
Week 1 – 4 times a week for 20 minutes
Week 2 – 4 times a week for 25 minutes
Week 3 – 5 times a week for 25 minutes
Week 4 – 5 times a week for 30 minutes
You will notice how each week is a step advanced from the previous. This is how you make cardio work in your favor to burn fat.
Adopt Weight Training
Have you even seen someone in the gym doing endless hours of cardio and still look soft and unfit? That is because she is lacking lean muscle, which is built from weight training and excessive cardio burns muscle.
Weight training builds lean muscle mass. The more muscle you add to your frame, the less you need to rely on cardio. Muscle is metabolically active and allows you to burn more calories at rest and at play. Of course, this does not mean to kick cardio to the curve, but having a balance of both in your program will keep things interesting and will give much better body transformation results.
Once you understand how you can manipulate cardio, you will be able to master the fat burning game. Realize that you don’t need three or four different cardio methods stacked on top of one another. Just use cardio wisely and you will have the advantage. Remember, cardio is a fat loss tool, not the determining factor.
Karen Sessions has been in the fitness industry since 1988. She embarked on weight training to overcome an eating disorder, Anorexia Nervosa in its early stages. She overcame the eating disorder, received her personal training certificate, competed in many local bodybuilding contests, and qualified for Nationals. Since then she’s went on to write six e-books (weight loss, female bodybuilding, contest preparation, leg training, figure/fitness secrets, and cellulite removal). She writes articles for several fitness websites, as well as her own, www.theelitephysique.com, and also distributes a monthly e-newsletter. She has a very active and lively forum, filled with positive and supportive people with informative content. Karen’s sole goal is to educate others and help them apply that knowledge.