Is Cardio Effective for Fat Loss?

three running machines and two exercise bikes in the gym facing a window with a view of trees

If you’ve taken part in any type of fitness, whether that’s going to your local gym in the Ribble Valley or heading with your friends to do some fitness classes, you’ve no doubt done some cardio.

Lots of people believe (and have done for years) that cardio is one of the best forms of exercises to lose weight and burn that fat off your body.

They’re both right and wrong.

Cardio in the form of steady state, which is when you jump on an exercise bike or running machine for 15-20 minutes and don’t vary much in your speed or tempo (incline doesn’t really count), isn’t too great at burning fat in the long-term.

Yes, it will help you burn some fat just like any form of movement will (like walking the dog). But, if you chose to do some HIIT (high intensity interval training) like what you might do in a metafit class or boxing cardio camp then you’ll burn a lot more.

High intensity cardio has a bigger impact on your body and muscles because it has both an aerobic and anaerobic effect on them: meaning for the duration of the exercise there’s a clear effect on your muscles, but the increased metabolism and fat burning led by the anaerobic effect will help you burn fat more effectively.


Why should I do cardio?

Cardio is great for cardiovascular output. Everyone should be doing some kind of cardio during the week to improve their overall cardiovascular response and health.

That can be through one HIIT session a week, going for a 45-minute jog or coming to one of our popular local fitness classes. Lots of our group exercise sessions do have other elements in, such as strength training in circuit training and HIIT in our boxing classes.

Cardio can be fun, but remember not to do too much LISS isn’t great as it won’t have the prolonged impact that you want it to (fat loss).


Should I lift weights?

Lots of people ask us whether they should lift weights as well as cardio or whether it’ll have negative impact: lots of women think they’ll get “bulky” from lifting weights, which just isn’t true.

It takes a lot of work and effort to become bulky and develop muscle shape. If you want to “tone” your muscles and look slender with a little bit of muscle definition when you tense your muscles then you most definitely should lift weights.

Doing strength training also has other effects: it helps you burn fat long after you’ve been doing the activity (lots of times cardio [mostly LISS] has a strong impact when you’re doing it, but quickly diminishes once you stop).

One of the main reasons why people lift weights in the gym is because it helps your body burn more fat AFTER you workout: you can be sleeping and your body will still be using some of your fat stores to fuel the body’s nightly repairs.


So, which should I choose? Cardio or Strength Training?

You should choose both.

Low intensity cardio is good if you’re starting out.  If you’re embarrassed to go to the gym then going for a walk in the Ribble Valley will be a great start.

Then, you should transition to going to the gym and doing some strength training sessions. You might find that you’re a little resistant at first, but once you’re over that initial bump in the road you’ll be on your way to losing weight and feeling happy about it.

If you want to lose weight effectively then choosing a combination of strength training and HIIT will serve you the best.

As long as you’re seeking the right advice from an experienced fitness professional you should be able to make some really great progress to ensure you’re effectively burning the most fat off your body.

They’ll also help keep your exercise routine fresh and with different elements in it to keep things interesting. Boredom is one of the main reasons people give up exercising.

Want some help and advice? Don’t forget to reach out and we can have a chat about your goals and where you want to be: contact us here.

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