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For women, cardio exercise is touted as the holy grail of weight loss.  We’ve heard it all our adult lives. Want to lose weight?  Do cardio!  Want to lose more weight faster?  Do MORE cardio!  There are enough creative, colorful cardio class options to fill a candy store…dance, kickboxing, aerobics, hoola hooping, you name it.  And if you don’t like those, there’s good old fashioned running and cardio machines at the gym.  We LOVE cardio because it’s exercise we don’t really need to think about.  With cardio, it’s possible to ‘forget’ you’re exercising, whether that means watching TV while on the elliptical or doing a class where you just follow the instructor’s moves.

The surprising and sad truth, despite what we’ve always heard, is that cardio really isn’t ideal for weight loss, especially long cardio sessions in the ‘fat burning zone’.  Some women do as much as two hours of cardio per day in an attempt to lose weight.  And many of those same women find that despite the extra cardio, it’s really tough to lose the weight.   How can this be?  Let’s look at some of the reasons why cardio isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.


1) Cardio Makes You Hungry

Long cardio sessions may help to burn some calories, but they’ll also make you REALLY hungry.  We can experience a drop in blood sugar after a long cardio session that can lead us to look for quick sustenance, and in our ‘starving’ state we may end up consuming enough extra calories to cancel out the ones we just spent all that effort burning.


2) Cardio Causes Injury

Are you the type that runs or does an hour or more of high-impact cardio every day?  If so, it’s likely that you’ve experienced injury at some point – a muscle pull, tendonitis or joint pain, or even a stress fracture.  Cardio creates a lot of impact, but doesn’t really build much muscle to support your bones and joints, so it’s a recipe for injury.  Overtraining cardio is the best way to get injured, and an injury will prevent you from doing cardio until it’s healed.


3) Weight Loss is 70% – 80% Diet

If your goal is to lose weight, long cardio sessions without a change in diet won’t do the trick.  The experts say that weight loss is 70 – 80% diet, and 20 – 30% exercise.  But, it’s not just the amount of calories that are important, but the quality of the food you eat.  Calorie restriction can slow your metabolism and halt weight loss, so choose healthier foods rather than starve yourself.  The best diet for weight loss includes lots of lean protein, as many veggies and fruits as you can pile in, healthy fats, and slow-burning non-refined carbohydrates like whole grains and potatoes.  If you’re looking to learn exactly how and what to eat for best weight loss results, our Athlean-XX for Women nutrition plan will help.  We’ve got a day-by -day meal plan you can follow if you like, OR lists of foods you can choose from to create your own meals.


cardio bad for weight loss4) Cardio Does Little for Building Muscle

To help with weight loss, it’s important to build lean muscle, because muscle will help you burn additional calories all day long and while you sleep.  Lean muscle mass will also give you the shapely, sculpted look you’re going for.  Cardio doesn’t do much to build lean muscle at all, and too much cardio can sometimes cause muscle break down.  Instead of all those long cardio sessions, try shorter 30 circuit strength workouts like those we do at Athlean-XX for Women.  Circuit strength workouts involve doing challenging strength training exercises with body weight and dumbbells, but with no 60 – 90 second break between sets.  This type of workout gives you effective strength training and cardio at the same time.  You may be surprised to see how much this type of strength training gets your heart rate up – considerably more than traditional ‘weight loss’ cardio.  In fact, our Athlean-XX for Women leg and glute workouts can raise your heart rate as much as a HIIT workout.

Are you looking to get a lean, strong and athletic body?  Quit putting in those long hours on the cardio machines.  Give Athlean-XX for Women a try.  You can get the results you’ve been wanting with just 30 minute workouts each day (trust me, they’re challenging) and a healthier diet.  Join us on Team Athlean and we’ll show you how!

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