We already know that cardio is good for fat burning and definitely important for keeping our heart healthy. Not to mention it’s been proven for effective stress relief. My personal favorite is HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and anything that involves bodyweight movements. HIIT allows me to get in a quick intense workout in a shorter amount of time than if I were to run on a treadmill or get on the elliptical.
So there are many benefits to incorporating cardio in your fitness routine, but here are a few of the biggest cardio myths that might be causing you a havoc in your fitness progress…
MYTH #1: Doing a lot of cardio is the trick to fast weight loss.
FACT: Yes, cardio will help you burn fat and lose weight. However, it may not be the weight that you want to lose. Cardio alone burns away both fat and muscle! (Yeah, those little baby biceps you just worked so hard for? They’re vanishing as you stride on that treadmill.) Of course I’m not telling you to stop doing cardio. Simply, just integrate strength workouts into your routine. Remember that weight training builds lean muscle mass, which helps to elevate your metabolism and burns more fat, even hours after your workouts!
MYTH #2: You’re wasting time if you can’t get in at least an hour of cardio during a workout.
FACT: Doing anything is better than doing nothing! You are still burning calories no matter how little time you spend on cardio. The trick is to control the intensity. If you’re battling with time, I suggest you do HIIT instead of getting on the cardio machines. (Hey, you can even do HIIT workouts at home, no equipment needed!) By doing high-intensity interval training, you incorporate intense periods of work with short recovery time. Your metabolism will be elevated and you’ll be burning calories for up to 38 hours after your HIIT workout. But if you’re a cardio bunny and can’t give up your beloved treadmill or elliptical, make sure your short workout includes plenty of hills, cranked up intervals, and maybe even a few sprints in between the hilly walks/jogs.
MYTH #3: Doing cardio on an empty stomach burns more body fat.
FACT: Not only will your body be more fatigue (not being able to do your reps), you can actually suffer something called “muscle catabolism” (muscle loss) if you workout on an empty stomach. Ultimately, your body really needs energy to perform and energy comes from food. I’m a fan of eating a high protein pre-workout snack.
MYTH #4: You can skip “leg day” if you ran or biked.
FACT: Don’t we all wish that was true. Unfortunately, you CANNOT skip your leg day just because you had a cardio day that involved your legs. Unless you’re doing full-on sprints uphill or cranking the bike’s resistance to the max, you’re not doing much muscle-building at all even though you may feel like your legs and glutes are about to fall off. You need strength training moves like squats, lunges and dead lifts to build up your muscles!
Go on! Have a blast with cardio while keeping these things in mind. Don’t forget to hit the weights though!