I get asked quite a bit about cardio, and we have written on it before. Cardio can be a trap. Especially if you get your body to the place where you can ONLY see results when you do more of it.
I was there a couple years ago, and it is scary when you are doing 2 hours of steady-state cardio a day, and nothing is changing. Huh? How is that possible? Burning hundreds and hundreds of cals, eating 90% clean and still not losing inches! The answer is because when it comes to exercise, oftentimes it is about HORMONAL signals, not just calories. So you can be burning cals like crazy and despite a caloric deficit, you look the exact same.
The “cardio look” is also a high cortisol look (a “puffy” look). Like Charles Poliquin calls, “The Fat Aerobics Instructor” look. Lots of exercise, especially in the moderate-intensity zone can leave us with chronically high cortisol levels, which can eventually interfere with our insulin metabolism. When this is broken, the thyroid can be affected, the adrenals too. And before we know it, our metabolism is simply not responding despite more and more exercise. Like I said, a TRAP.
So, when I get asked about cardio, and “how much should I do?” my answer is always: As little as possible.
The more you do, the more you have to continue to do to get results. So it is always ideal to do less if you can get away with it. Use weight training as your primary form of exercise to help build muscle and shape the body. Do metabolic conditioning if you want a little higher breathless component. Add 1-2 days of sprints to your routine. 100-200m, resting as long as needed in between and doing 6-10 of them. But keep the moderate duration, steady-state stuff to a minimum.
Like my friend Jen Sinkler says, “I lift weights. For cardio, I just lift weights faster.”
In the video below, I give my full answer to the question about cardio. See what you think!
Related: 4 Cardio Myths