To Cardio or Not to Cardio?

The belief that aerobic training (cardio) is the only way to effectively lose fat, stems from a long-held belief that long, slow cardiovascular activity at a low intensity is superior to other forms of exercise for fat loss. It is also a well known cliché that bodybuilders dread cardio as they don’t want to lose muscle mass, and runners shy away from resistance training as they believe it will make them “bulky” and slow. Spoiler alert: neither of those beliefs, like most fitness “truths,” fully represent the truth. This thinking is much too simplistic and doesn’t align with the latest scientific evidence on training for fat loss.

For example, high-intensity interval training has shown to yield fantastic results for fat loss. Interval training COMBINES components typical of aerobic and anaerobic training (weight lifting) alike and takes advantage of the synergistic bond they share to produce superior fat loss to traditional long, slow, low-intensity cardiovascular training. In fact, interval training can yield 9 times the fat loss that long, slow cardio produces.

You may be thinking, “ok, so how do I incorporate HIIT into my routine?”
There are many ways to incorporate interval training into a training program to expedite fat loss.  One of my favorites is barbell complexes. Barbell complexes consist of 5-7 different exercises, mostly compound exercises, with 5-8 repetitions of each exercise, performed consecutively, with 1-3 minutes rest between complexes. This is a wonderful way to incorporate training that yields positive aerobic dividends to a bodybuilders training program and, conversely, to incorporate anaerobic elements into a runners training schedule. In many ways, it is the perfect compromise between aerobic and anaerobic training that produces significant fat loss.  Many people will enjoy this type of training as it allows for shorter workouts and avoids long, boring hours slogging away on a treadmill or other cardio machine. Intervals can also be performed with kettlebells, jump rope, and battle ropes. Due to the many different ways to perform interval training it allows for excellent creativity and variety so that programs never become stagnant and boring.

Another way to produce fat loss for weight lifting enthusiasts that is not simply aerobic training is to shorten the rest periods during your anaerobic training. The shortened rest increases the metabolic stress on your muscles to stimulate hypertrophy, while also keeping heart rate in a proper range for fat loss. The shortened rest will also increase intensity and excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) which will enable you to burn fat AFTER training.

IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE that these training methods are taxing on the CNS (central nervous system) and can be very taxing on the muscular system, so interval training should not exceed 3-4 times weekly, MAXIMUM without an . The knowledge of many different effective forms of fat loss training will be crucial to helping clients reach their goals. My main goal as a trainer is to help clients reap the wonderful benefits of both aerobic and anaerobic training and show that they are not mutually exclusive. Bodybuilders and runners alike can both benefit from different types of fat loss training and it is my job as a trainer to debunk the long held myths surrounding aerobic training.

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