In any gym across India or maybe around the globe, you will find 80% of overweight men and women locking their horns with one of the cardio machines. It’s a global assumption that cardio is the only way to loss that extra baggage. The mind-set or rather misconception that prevails across fitness enthusiasts is that to loose fat do loads of cardio and to build muscle or gain weight do weight training, if you are also the one with a similar thought process then it’s about time to change your workout routine because most probably the fitness path you are walking on will not only hinder your transformation process, but will leave you not quite what you wanted to look like for which you had started your fitness journey.
I am not asking you to stop cardiovascular exercises completely, it surely helps you strengthen your heart, lowers blood sugar and blood pressure and no doubt burns calories, all I am asking you to mix your cardio routines with resistance/strength training which will give you a complete calorie burning and muscle toning workout. A combination of fat burning and muscle toning will give you a lean muscular look along with a firm physique. Cardio is indeed helpful in weight loss, but should not be used as the only means for your complete weight loss target. Here are some of the disadvantages of adapting cardio as the only medium to achieve your fitness goals:
1. Cardio doesn’t sculpts your body
With cardio you can lose weight, but bringing down the body fat percentage to get rid of those love handles completely or the formation of most desired six packs are not possible with cardio alone. Cardio will make your BMI (Body Mass Index) look good because of all the weight loss, but won’t give you a toned muscle. The muscles will still be soft and shapeless and most probably the bulge on your waist will remain intact. The reason for this is that while losing all the weight in cardio you also lose your precious lean muscle tissue which helps in toning the body. If you include weight training, your weight loss will be a combination of body fat and the unwanted flab and it will save you from losing the precious lean muscle mass. This will help you build a much more attractive physique henceforth lead to a better transformation.
2. Cardio kills body composition
Too much of cardio disturbs the lean muscle to fat ration of the body which results in complete loss of muscle. The best examples are the long distance runners who literally have almost nothing in the form muscle left on their body, on the other hand a sprinter or a 100m runner whose fitness routine includes strength training does possess a good portion of lean muscle along with a low body fat percentage. Almost all the sprinters have six packs which is a proof of their low body fat. So choice is up to you, look like a marathon runner or look like a 100m runner. Many research studies have found that long endurance activities like marathon running can cause muscle catabolism, or the breakdown of muscle tissue. Muscle catabolism can sometimes last up to 7 days after the endurance activity takes place. So a continuous running on treadmill for 30 minutes will do no good to your body if your goal is to build good lean muscle.
3. Hormonal Differences
Weight training and cardio training promotes different kind of hormonal environment. Weight training put the body in an anabolic state and encourages muscle mass gain. Cardio training, on the other hand, promotes higher levels of cortisol release which is the primary hormone that does encourage lean muscle mass loss, as well as fat accumulation around the abdominal region.
4. Metabolism Slowness
Another major problem of only doing cardio is that with time your body will get efficient at it and thus it will burn lesser calories. When this happens one will need to continually lower their food intake to keep losing weight, and there is only a point till which you can lower your food intake before you start starving and your health starts worsening. Eventually your metabolism slows down and you may reach a point when you will lose no weight even after doing hours of cardio. Adding a weight training increases your lean body mass which in turn increases your metabolism as your body will require more calories to maintain those increased lean muscle mass.
5. Traditional cardio kills your immune system
Study of long-distance runners have proved that after a workout, the condition of the blood levels got worse. It’s also discovered that prolonged running disrupts the balance of blood thinners and thickeners which elevate other factors including clotting levels, a sign of heart problems.
Traditional cardio kills your joints. If you repeatedly do the same style jogging over and over again, the pounding of the pavement or the treadmill floor puts stress in bad places. On the other hand lifting weights will help you build and maintain strong bones and will help you prevent the gradual loss of muscle that comes with aging.
7. Popularity of Cardio is market driven
Next time when you look at the advertisements for exercise equipments in a magazine or a newspaper, take a note of what equipments you see most. Invariably you will find that 80-90% of the equipments displayed will be cardio equipments. Why? This is because the cardio equipments are the high end costly products that bring the maximum profits to the seller and thus he advertises and markets them as the most beneficial for health and fat.
Unarguably Cardio is rarely a good long term weight loss or fat loss solution. A good mix of a healthy diet, weight training and cardio is your best bet to lose all those unwanted pounds and keep them off in the long run. If your aim is low body fat with maximal muscle toning then strength training with some intense cardio like high intensity interval cardio is your best killer formula that your excess body fat cannot survive.