There is a lot of money in cardio. Almost every gym owner is willing to trade free weights for a bunch of treadmills in order to create a playground for the local fatsos. In case you do not know gym owners make most of their money from fatsos. The fatter you are the more gym owners love you. There are two main reasons for that. First, most people are fat. Second, fat people have more money than poor starving people do. However, this rule only works up to about 300 – 350 lbs. After that, you are more of a danger to the equipment than a money cow.
The result of the cardio mafia are walls of treadmills and all other kinds of “hi-tech” equipment.
The gym owner counts the paper while the unaware overweight warriors are pedaling hard and dreaming of Brad Pitt’s ripped and sexy body from Fight Club. To make the experience more complete some people read celebrity gossip magazines during their cardio sessions. You see it in the movies all the time. And when something has been seen in the movies, it slowly comes to life in the real world.
Monkey see, monkey do.
Cardio a.k.a. conditioning is not bad at all. It has many benefits for your overall health, physique and shape. You can even build some muscle if you do high-intensity cardio such as sprinting. The problem with cardio comes from high expectations. People think that 1 hour of cardio gives them the right to cheat and usually reward themselves with a protein bar full of enough sugar to be considered diabetes in a box. The average person would burn 350-550 kcal after an hour of cardio. When you reward yourself with a waffle that contains 450 kcal, your cardio session goes down the drain as far as caloric deficit is concerned. However, all other benefits stay and even this practice is better than sitting on the sofa, daydreaming about candy bars.
There are many forms of cardio, but they all fall into two main categories – lazy cardio a.k.a. slow-paced cardio and high-intensity cardio. Obviously, the first type includes light activities such as walking or slow running. The benefit of this method is that it is easier on the joints and you recover faster. I would even say that you could do this type of cardio every day, maybe even two times a day. The negative side is that slow-paced cardio does not really preserve muscle mass since it’s a slow twitch dominant activity similar to a marathon. You do not need big muscles to walk for 2 hours a day. Thus, you do not get them.
The other form of cardio is called High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and a good example of it would be sprinting. You have periods of really fast and explosive work followed by short rest. This method targets the fast twitch fibers and actually builds muscle. There have been many studies and articles showing that HIIT leads to better improvements in less time. Some also say that it keeps your heart rate elevated for long periods after you have finished exercising. It is all nice, but there are two main problems with this type of cardio. If you are truly fat, you may end up putting a lot of stress on your joints.
In the end, the best cardio for weight loss have always been dieting. It is not really a cardio unless we count the running to the fridge after a period of food restriction. Dieting is what makes you lose fat, not cardio. If you count on cardio to negate the damage of weekly McDonald’s parties, you will have to perform as much work as one of those bunnies powered by a Duracell battery. It is not very practical and in most cases it’s even impossible because the schedule of the modern slave man does not allow it. We have to work very hard so that other men can enjoy nice vacations and be interviewed by Oprah or something. Never forget that!
If anybody claims that a special form of cardio, will be able to make you ripped faster than dieting, he is a liar.
Unfortunately or not, cardio sessions are not a ticket to the land of processed food loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners, aspartame, soy protein and whatever else was found on the floor that day.