The exact amount of hours of cardio you need to do each week for optimal body composition is …
In case you think that’s a typo … it’s not. That’s a big fat zero.
For some, that’s a cause for celebration.
For others, that’s a cause for getting butthurt.
Before I explain, yesterday I announced that this week only we’re offering 10% off our 6 month coaching program.
If you’ve been on the fence about coaching, now is the time to hop over that bitch.
Or at least a chance for some due diligence to make an informed decision.
All you have to do is schedule a call for this week and see if it’s a good fit on both sides.
Anyway, let’s talk about why cardio is completely useless in improving your body composition.
Now, I’m making a bold assumption here.
I’m assuming that you don’t want to look skinny fat.
Why cardio won’t help improve body composition
If your goal is to lose weight in the form of muscle and to have zero definition, then cardio absolutely is effective for that.
However, I’m assuming you want to lose fat, build muscle, get leaner, look toned, more fit, or however the fuck you want to describe it … you know what I mean.
Not only is cardio ineffective for accomplishing that look … it can actually make it more difficult.
Why? Because of how your body and metabolism adapt to cardio.
Yes, cardio burns calories.
However, it’s a very manual process. And often times, two things happen …
Either your body compensates by making you move less throughout the day, subconsciously.
Or, it increases your hunger signals so you accommodate for the calories you burned during your cardio session.
The other thing that happens is that you become very efficient with calories.
In other words, when you do cardio, you burn less and less calories doing the same amount of exercise.
For example, let’s say you start with a couple of runs per week. And let’s say each time you run you burn 300 calories.
As you keep running, that exact same distance will start burning say 250 calories. Then 200. Then 150. etc., etc.
It’s not that linear but over time, the manual burn from cardio gets less and less.
What do I mean by manual burn?
I mean that you are putting in a lot of effort for a small calorie burn and then it stops after your cardio session. You go back to your baseline level.
How is lifting weights different?
When you lift weights, you probably burn less calories during the same amount of time as cardio. However, you keep a higher calorie burn after your workout is over.
When you break down muscle tissue as you do during resistance training, your body goes into repair mode. Your metabolism stays elevated and you burn more calories at rest.
Some research shows this can last up to 72 hours, although it’s likely more like 24 hours for most.
With strength training, you become more inefficient with calories.
Plus, when you lift weights and eat enough protein, your body holds onto muscle mass.
So when you lose weight, it comes in the form of body fat (which is what I’m assuming you want).
The popular school of thought when it comes to cardio for fat loss is with regards to the energy out side of the equation.
Meaning, if I start with a little bit of cardio and gradually increase it over time while keeping my calorie intake consistent, then I’ll increase calories out and lose weight.
Maybe. But as I mentioned above, your body will try to compensate by subtly moving less to account for the extra burn.
However, that’s not the main point for why cardio is largely irrelevant for body composition.
In my opinion, the main point is this …
Why not implement something that accomplishes the exact same goal with some added benefits?
That thing is walking.
Both improve cardiovascular health, both have hormonal benefits, both can improve your mood.
However, walking lowers cortisol and improves insulin sensitivity.
Cardio increases cortisol and is a stressor.
Walking is a stress reliever.
I’ll take the option that tilts the stress balance equation in my favor, thank you very much.
Now, before you write off cardio forever …
It absolutely has a time and place.
Cardio is quite effective if your goal is to get better at … well … cardio.
It does have health benefits, as I mentioned, and then there’s the other key ingredient here …
What do you enjoy doing and what can you stay consistent with?
If you love cardio, I don’t understand you 😉
But seriously, if you love cardio, do it.
If it helps you clear your mind, if you can stay consistent, if you want to get better at cardio, if you do it for health reasons … amazing.
I just want to clear the air about cardio for body composition.
It’s not necessary and sometimes can make things more difficult in that area.
Remember, the basics of walking, lifting weights, eating enough protein, eating the right amount of calories based on your goals, and managing stress / sleeping will always be the main drivers for your physique goals.
Cardio is kind of like the toppings you put on ice cream. Some people love the toppings, some people don’t. But the ice cream is just fine without it.
Dammit, now I’m hungry.
Time to eat.
Hope this helps.